Archive for April 2014

Tehillim 119:19

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 · Posted in , , , , , , ,

Tehillim 119:19
גֵּר אָנֹכִי בָאָרֶץ אַל-תַּסְתֵּר מִמֶּנִּי מִצְו‍ֹתֶיךָ
ger anochi vaaretz al-taster mimeni mitzvoteicha
I am a stranger on the earth; do not hide Your commandments from me.

The main obstacle to achievement is the brevity of human life.  For no man can accomplish enough in his short span to encompass all necessary knowledge in every part of the Torah.  Hence the King David pleads that at least he should understand the practical mitzvot. "I am a stranger on the earth," so "do not hide Your commandments from me." As the Scripture indeed says elsewhere, "and keep His commandments, for that is the entire man" (Kohelet 12:13).

"I am a stranger on the earth" and my days are few, so "do not hide Your commandments from me."  Let them not stay hidden so that I may implement them.  If I fail to keep them now, when shall I keep them?

"I am a stranger on the earth," and do not know the day of my departure.  So, "do not hide Your commandments from me."  I am like a passing stranger who requires that provisions for the road be at hand in case he must depart suddenly.

King David felt that since a man's stay in this world is only temporary, he must equip himself with Torah learning and the observance of mitzvot.

The story is told about a certain province in India where the inhabitants would elect a king to rule over them for one year.  Once, they crowned a fool who was unaware of this time limitation to his reign, and he built palaces for himself.  At the conclusion of his year-long reign, he was separated from all his wealth.  He was succeeded to the throne by a sage, who soon found out that his reign would last only a year.  He then invested much effort to amass a great deal of money, which he deposited in another country.  At the end of the year he had everything, and he rejoiced in both places.

"I am a stranger "גר" (ger) on the earth." The Midrash says, "Was, then, David a stranger? He said, rather, just as one who today becomes a convert (ger) is ignorant of Torah, so a man's eyes are open and yet he may be unable to distinguish between his right hand and his left hand in Torah knowledge.  If David, who composed all these songs and psalms, said, 'I am a stranger on the earth' and know nothing, it is assuredly true of us that we know nothing!"

We are both strangers and settlers (cf. v. 39:13), like all our forefathers (cf. Bereishit 23:4). "For our days on earth are a shadow" (Iyov 8:9). Just as this shadow passes, so the human being passes away.  However, our days are like a shadow only when we do not study and apply the Torah.

Thus our Sages teach, "The day is short, the work is abundant, and the workers are lazy; the reward is ample and the master urges."

Accordingly, it says, "I am a stranger on the earth; do not hide Your commandments from me."

I ask, "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things from Your Torah" (v119:18).  Profound secrets are not revealed to those not sufficiently deserving, but I am a stranger here on earth.  My soul is carved from on high.

"I am a stranger on the earth; do not hide Your commandments from me." King David is telling us that his entire existence in this world is like that of an alien in a strange land. He is here only for one purpose: to collect Torah and mitzvot to bring to the World to Come. Therefore he beseeches Hashem: "Do not hide Your mitzvot from me." Indeed, every Jew should try to emulate the behavior of King David. A person should strive to make Torah his primary occupation.

The Chofetz Chaim related an excellent parable to illustrate this idea:

When a person wants to build a house, he doesn't plan it himself. Rather, he hires a professional architect to draw up a blueprint of his future home. This blueprint provides the builder with an exact model, showing the size and location of each room.

A wealthy man hired a prominent architect, and told him, "I have a certain piece of property, and I want to build the most spectacular mansion in town on it. I hear you do superb work, and I'd like to hire you to draw up a blueprint. Put special emphasis on making a large and luxurious living room. However, don't scrimp on the foyer either, because I want my guests to have a good impression as soon as they enter the house."

The architect's first step was to measure the size of the property. Realizing that there was a major problem, he immediately returned to the owner to report back.

"Listen, I measured your property down to the inch. Unfortunately, there just isn't enough room for both a spacious living room and a large foyer. If you want a luxurious living room, you'll have to make the foyer smaller, because whatever you add to the one will detract from the other. I'll do whatever you wish, but if you want my advice, I think you should choose a small entrance-way and a luxurious and spacious living room. Besides, this is the normal way people build houses. They put the accent on the beauty and comfort of the living room, and make the foyer secondary. If you do the opposite, you'll be the laughing-stock of the whole community. People will say to themselves, 'Look at that fool! He sits his guests in a cramped salon and puts their jackets in a luxurious coatroom!'"

The Chofetz Chaim concludes: The purpose of our time in this world is to build a mansion for ourselves in the World to Come. Yet what do we do? We invest most of our efforts in enlarging and decorating the foyer! We don't realize that this only makes our real, eternal home that much smaller. What foolishness!

"I am a stranger on the earth; do not hide Your commandments from me."  If one views each day as a fountainhead of burgeoning opportunities - if he sees the events in his life as true occasions for eternity, if one actively looks to uncover and achieve new sources for his soul’s satisfaction - then he is taking the teachings of King David to heart.  The Chayei Adam devotes an entire Chapter (Chapter 68) to appreciating and accomplishing Mitzvot.  If possible, one should study it, and even review it again from time to time.   Hashem has given and continues to give us gifts of immense proportions daily--let us try hard to appreciate, to rejoice in, and make the most of these Heavenly gifts.

Tehillim 119:1 - Tehillim 119:2 - Tehillim 119:3 - Tehillim 119:4 - Tehillim 119:5 - Tehillim 119:6 - Tehillim 119:7 - Tehillim 119:8 - Tehillim 119:9 - Tehillim 119:10 - Tehillim 119:11 - Tehillim 119:12 - Tehillim 119:13 -  Tehillim 119:14 - Tehillim 119:15 - Tehillim 119:16 - Tehillim 119:17 - Tehillim 119:18

Tehillm 119:18

Tehillim 119:18
גַּל-עֵינַי וְאַבִּיטָה נִפְלָאוֹת מִתּוֹרָתֶךָ
gal-einai veabita niflaot mitoratecha
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things from Your Torah.

The second obstruction in one's limited grasp of profound matters.  Accordingly, David prays, "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things from Your Torah."

According to the Midrash, King David said to the Holy One, "Master of the world!  It is Your will that I "keep Your word" (v119:17).  So, "open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things from Your Torah."  If You will not open my eyes, how shall I know?  Although my eyes are open now, I know nothing.

Come and see! Although Shmuel was a prophet, he did not know until the Holy One revealed to him; as it says, "Now Hashem has revealed to Shmuel a day before" (Shmuel Alef 9:15).  We also find the same thing in the case of Daniel (Daniel 2).

Our Sages have expounded further:  Everyone is presumed blind until G-d opens their eyes.  For there is outer vision and there is inner vision.  To see with the inner eye, it is necessary to remove the partition.  That is what David asked for here, "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things from Your Torah."

The Scripture also says elsewhere, "For they will see eye to eye, Hashem returning to Tziyon" (Yeshayahu 52:8).  This refers to the eye within the eye.

Regarding outer vision, it says, "And that you do not follow after your own heart and your own eyes" (Bamidbar 15:39); and regarding vision internal to the eyes, it says, "that you may look upon it (Him)" (ibid.).  Hence David says here, "Open my eyes, that I may behold" in depth "wondrous things from your Torah."

This indicates that King David wanted to possess all fifty gates of understanding, notwithstanding that Moshe acquired only forty-nine gates.  The Mashiach ben David will possess all fifty.

Everything is from the mouth of the Mighty One; everything is the Torah of G-d: whole, pure, holy, [and] true…every letter of the Torah contains wisdom and wonders for him whom G-d has given to understand it. Its ultimate wisdom cannot be perceived as it is said,  "Its measure is greater than the earth and broader than the sea" (Iyov 11:9)  A man can only follow in the steps of David, the anointed of the G-d of Yaakov, the most pleasant singer of hymns of Yisrael, who prayed, singing, "Open my eyes, thatI may behold wondrous things from Your Torah."

Tehillim 119:1 - Tehillim 119:2 - Tehillim 119:3 - Tehillim 119:4 - Tehillim 119:5 - Tehillim 119:6 - Tehillim 119:7 - Tehillim 119:8 - Tehillim 119:9 - Tehillim 119:10 - Tehillim 119:11 - Tehillim 119:12 - Tehillim 119:13 -  Tehillim 119:14 - Tehillim 119:15 - Tehillim 119:16 - Tehillim 119:17

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