Archive for February 2016

Perek Shirah - Rain Says

Saturday, February 13, 2016 · Posted in ,

גְּשָׁמִים אוֹמְרִים - Rain Says:
Tehillim 68:10
גֶּשֶׁם נְדָבוֹת תָּנִיף אלוקים נַחֲלָתְךָ וְנִלְאָה אַתָּה כוֹנַנְתָּהּ
geshem nedavot tanif Elokim nachalatcha venila atah chonanta

A generous rain did You pour down, O G-d; when Your inheritance was weary, You did establish it strongly.
Some explain that the entire verse pertains to Matan Torah. At Sinai, when the Benei Yisra'el grew faint in the Presence of G-d, "a generous rain did You pour down, O G-d." Like one spraying water on a person who has fainted, it was if You had poured down a generous rain upon them to revive them.

"When Your inheritance" - Your people Yisra'el - "was weary" to exhaustion from the bondage of the Egyptian exile; when they were fainting in terror at the trembling and shaking of the earth and the thunderous sounds at Sinai; "You did establish it strongly" and revived their souls.

Rashi explains: This, too, You did for us. Whenever we needed rain, You would always send us rains of generosity and blessing. When the Land of Your inheritance was weary with thirsting for water, You established it firmly.

Perek Shirah - Dew Says

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טַל אוֹמֵר - Dew Says:
Hoshe'a 14:6
אֶהְיֶה כַטַּל לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, יִפְרַח כַּשּׁוֹשַׁנָּה; וְיַךְ שָׁרָשָׁיו, כַּלְּבָנוֹן
ehyeh chatal leYisra'el yifrach kashoshana veyach sharashav kaLvanon
I will be to Yisra'el like the dew; he will flower (blossom) like the lily, 
and strike his roots like the (as) Levanon.

Because the Jewish people, collectively and individually, will have repented, their source will not become dry and their spring will not be dried up. On the contrary, "I will be to Yisrael as dew."

Even as the dew does not cease coming down every morning, so My benevolence towards the Jewish people will not cease. As a result, "he will blossom like the lily." The lily blossoms, not during a fierce rain, but when moistened by the dew at night. Yisrael is likened to a lilly, and it will merit the "dew" of G-d's blessing.

Yisra'el is likened to the lily, as it says, "a lily among thorns" (Shir HaShirim 2:2). The comparison is not fully adequate. The lily has no roots, but Yisra'el's roots are "like the Levanon." The cedars of Levanon have extensive roots below ground. Rain tends to destroy the lily, but the dew causes it to blossom. Nor does it harm its fragrance.  The lily opens upward, and even so the little moisture provided by dew is helpful. Regarding the Jewish people, similarly, the Sages teach that whoever gazes upward will in the end come to the path of life. As it says, "They looked to Him, and are radiant" (Tehillim 34:6).

The Jewish people have no roots in exile. Eventually, however, they who are now rootless will strike roots, and "his roots" will be "as Levanon." Future generations of the Jewish people - "his branches" - will be living in the Land of Yisra'el, and these branches "will spread out far." Then "his beauty will be as the olive tree, and his gragrance as Levanon" (v14:7).

This will take place in the End of Days. Even as the olive tree gives rise to olive oil, which then provides light, their fruit will also give light. At that time, the Holy Spirit and the spirit of purity will rest upon Yisra'el in the Land of Yisra'el - place of purity and holiness.

Perek Shirah - Lightning Says

בְּרָקִים אוֹמְרִים - Lightning Says:
Tehillim 135:7
בְּרָקִים לַמָּטָר עָשָׂה מוֹצֵא-רוּחַ מֵאוֹצְרוֹתָיו
berakim lamatar asa motze-uach me'otzrotav
He makes lightnings for the rain; He brings forth wind from His treasuries.

King David depicts the wonders of rain. "He raises the vapor-clouds" from the sea at "the ends of the earth; He makes lightnings for the rain." After G-d has caused the clouds to ascend on high, "He brings forth wind from His Treasuries." He draws the winds from their place of confinement, and they move the clouds over the surface of the earth.

King David also depicts here the redemption of Yisrael, which he likens to rainfall. At first the clouds obscure the light, and at times there is wind and storm. But after the rain has fallen, the skies clear and everyone benefits from the rain. The redemption comes in a similar fashion. At first there is the darkness of bondage, but then there is a great light. That is what King David says: "He raises the vapor-clouds from the ends of the earth; He makes lightnings for the rain:; He also "brings forth wind from His treasuries." But in the end everything brightens.

G-d's might is evident when He does two opposite things at once. Fire and water are opposites, and yet "He makes lightning for the rain." The water does not extinguish the fire.

"He brings forth wind from His treasuries" to scatter the clouds, or else to drive them to the designated location, everything in accordance with His will. To scatter and to bring to a designated location, are also opposites.

Rains are a sign of Divine supervision. This it says "For I know that Hashem is great, and that our G-d is above al gods. Whatsoever Hashem wants, He has done, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and in all depths. He raises the vapor-clouds from the ends of the earth; He makes lightnings for the rain; He brings forth wind from His treasuries."

Perek Shirah - Wind Says

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רוּחַ אוֹמֵר - Wind Says:
Yeshayahu 43:6
 אֹמַר לַצָּפוֹן תֵּנִי וּלְתֵימָן אַל-תִּכְלָאִי הָבִיאִי בָנַי מֵרָחוֹק וּבְנוֹתַי מִקְצֵה הָאָרֶץ
omar latzafon teni uleteiman al-tichlai havii vanai merachok uvenotai miktze haaretz
I shall say to the North, "Give forth!" and to the South, "Hold not back!" 
Bring back My children from afar, My daughters from the ends of the earth!

Fear not that you may lose your status due to the exile, for I shall gather you from all over the earth.  I shall bring back the lost Ten Tribes exiled to the East, and the Judeans exiled to the West.

I will bring back not only those who are distant geographically, at the "ends of the earth," but also those who are distant spiritually, "from afar."  Those who were forced to abandon Jewish practice but kept it secretly in their homes, and even those who had only kept the faith in their hearts.

When G-d spoke to the prophet about the return of the exiles, He said: “…bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth” (Yeshayahu 43:6). According to our Sages (Menachot 110a), “My sons” refers to the exiles in Babylonia, who were like sons, since their minds were settled and composed, while “My daughters” refers to the exiles in other countries, who were like daughters, since their minds were not settled and composed. 

Perek Shirah - Clouds of Glory Say

עַנְנֵי כָבוֹר אוֹמְרִים - Clouds of Glory Say:
Iyov 37:11
אַף-בְּרִי יַטְרִיחַ עָב יָפִיץ עֲנַן אוֹרוֹ
af-beri yatriach av yafitz anan oro
Af Beri burdens the cloud; he scatters His rain cloud

(Af Beri is the name of the angel who is appointed over the clouds, 
and he scatters the Omnipresent’s rain cloud)

Also translated as...

Also He burdens the thick cloud with an overflow; the thin cloud scatters its light

The "clouds of glory" refers to thin clouds that do not rain but instead have only the effect of scattering the sun's light, thereby forming beautiful and glorious patterns in the sky. Even if they only absorb a tiny amount of sunlight, scattering it evenly and thereby appearing to be white, they present a spectacular contrast to the blue skies; when they refract the light unevenly and produce striking shades of red and orange, they are all the more magnificent.

The commentaries on Perek Shirah explain that the lesson contained therein is as follows. The rain contained by the thick clouds, albeit a blessing, blocks out the sunlight. Rain is called geshem in the Torah, the source of the word gashmiyus, physicality. Rain represents the material blessings of this world. Immersion in the material pleasures of this world can obscure the light of the heavens. One can forget about the ultimate source of life and light -- Hashem. (Rabbi Nosson Slifkin)

“And the night will be dark about me” Heb. אור, literally "light." And the night will darken before me. This אוֹר is an expression of darkness, like (Iyov 37:11) “he spreads his clouds of darkness (אור) ” 

During the forty years in the wilderness, Yisrael  was protected and given light by the Clouds of Glory.  The Talmud teaches that they had no need for sunlight because the holiness of the clouds gave them all the light they needed.  Also, when the earth needs rain, G-d thickens the clouds with moisture and gladdens the dry earth. (Tanach; Rabbi Scherman)

Perek Shirah - Thick Clouds Say

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עָבִים אוֹמְרִים - Thick Clouds Say:
Tehillim 18:12
יָשֶׁת חֹשֶׁךְ | סִתְרוֹ סְבִיבוֹתָיו סֻכָּתוֹ חֶשְׁכַת מַיִם עָבֵי שְׁחָקִים
yashet choshech sitro sevivotav sukato cheshchat-mayim avei shechakim
He made darkness His hiding place, His pavillion round about Him; 
darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.

Now David describes the fifth form of divine retribution, by water and torrential rain, as happened to the Flood Generation.

"He made darkness... thick clouds of the skies."  G-d put darkness round about His pavilion, to be at hand for use against His enemies.  "Darkness of waters" (cheshchat-mayim) means an accumulation of clouds; "thick clouds of the skies" (avei shechakim) means clouds that cover the sky.

Some explain that the verse refers to David himself.  G-d "made darkness" - placed upon him a cover of darkness - as "his hiding place," that is, to conceal him from his enemies.

Some commentaries emphasize the link between the present verse and what came before.  Because G-d's wrath flamed forth against His enemies, and out of His mouth came burning coals and hailstones that devoured (v18:9), they pierced through the thick clouds.  The "darkness of waters" did not extinguish the coals and lightning bolts that flamed from His mouth.

Here cheshchat is appropriately translated as "darkness."  Elsewhere we find the expression chashrat mayim, which means a gathering of waters.  That is to say, waters gathered from everywhere in the form of vapors to form clouds.  Darkness ensued as a result of the clouds - cheshchat-mayim.

Then again, "He made darkness His Place" alludes to the profound difficulty of knowing G-d, just as it is impossible to know what is inside a dark place.  For our material aspect keeps us separated from knowledge of the Almighty.

The "darkness of waters" that are in the thick clouds of the skies are the darkness that is about Him. Lest you say that within the darkness there is no light, Scripture tells us: From the brightness before Him, and from within His partition, His thick clouds that are about Him are split, and hail and coals of fire pass through them. (Rashi)

"He made darkness His hiding place", referring to the spiritual source of darkness which in truth is loftier even than the revealed light and is therefore (called darkness, for it is) too intense to be perceived by any mortal, seeing creature (Likutei Sichot vol. 11.p.132) 

Concerning this it is stated, “He reveals deep things from the darkness” (Iyov 12:22) The “darkness” is the essential hiddenness of the Ein Sof which is known as “His hidden darkness” (Tehillim 18:12) the level at which He is “hidden from all the hidden.” And out of this darkness is the above point revealed. After the contraction and concealment referred to as “the deep things” of “His hidden darkness” there is a revelation of light; yet this revelation is only a point, and is still concealed in relation to the hishtalshelut of [the development of] the worlds. For even though at this stage the point which remains of the light is still considered concealed in relation to the hishtalshelut of the worlds, its ultimate revelation for the sake of this hishtalshelut can take place only after the point’s expansion. As a “point” it is still beyond revelation. It is called ayin (“nothingness”) relative to both G-d’s essential Being and to the worlds; to Atzmut (Essence) because it is insignificant in comparison, and to the worlds because it is not yet revealed.

The attribute of Netzach is the inner dimension of Keter which is referred to by the phrase: “He made darkness His hidding place [concealment]," [i.e., it is a quality] above revelation.

Perek Shirah - Stars say

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כּוֹכָבִים אוֹוֹמְרִים - Stars say:
Nechemiya 9:6
אַתָּה הוּא יְהֹוָה לְבַדֶּךָ אַתָּה עָשִׂיתָ אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם שְׁמֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם וְכָל צְבָאָם הָאָרֶץ וְכָל אֲשֶׁר עָלֶיהָ הַיַּמִּים וְכָל אֲשֶׁר בָּהֶם וְאַתָּה מְחַיֶּה אֶת כֻּלָּם וּצְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם לְךָ מִשְׁתַּחֲוִים
atah-hu HASHEM levadecha atah asita et-hashamayim shemei hashamayim vechol-tzevaam haaretz vechol-asher aleiha hayamim vechol-asher bahem veata mechayeh et-kulam utzeva hashamayim lecha mishtachavim
You alone are HASHEM; You made the heavens, the heavens of the heavens and all their host, 
the earth and all that is upon it, the seas and all that is in them, 
and You give life to them all, and the heavenly host bow down before You.

"The heavenly host bow down before You" – the Gemara sees the rising of the celestial bodies in the east and their movement toward the west as daily worship of G-d. The celestial bodies, of course, lack free choice, and in this sense, a person who serves in the Temple is sort of a prayer leader on behalf of all of creation; as if every day he bears the sun, the moon, and the stars, and prostrates himself westward, toward the Shechinah in the Holy of Holies.

The idea that man in his daily service of G-d gives expression to all of creation's yearning for the Divine follows also from the Gemara in Berachot 9b, which proposes as an asmachta (support) for the custom of the prayer of vatikin (ideal time, which was the time that the meticulous men of old would recite the Shema, is just before sunrise so that their silent Amida prayer would commence with the rising sun) the verse, "May they fear You with the sun" (Tehillim 72:5).

Every star and sphere has a soul and is endowed with knowledge and intellect. (Rambam, Laws of Fundamental Principles 3:9)

So why does the sun race across the heavens?

The explanation expounded in those Chassidic discourses present the movement of the sun as a form of terribly self-nullifying genuflection and prostration. The sun has matter and form, body and soul. The body — the sun orb — circles the heavens in bowed reverence, because its spiritual soul is in a state of spiritual prostration.

Scripture describes this phenomenon in the following manner, on the one hand:

"The host of the heavens bow before You" (Nehemiah 9:6)

This is the physical state. On the other hand:

“When the morning stars sing together.” (Iyov 38:7)

This is the Spiritual bowing (singing).

"You give life to them all", G-d's energy in every created being not only gives it life and vivifies it, but continuously brings it into existence ex nihilo. The verse is thus interpreted, for the phrase "to give life" does not necessary imply "to create" -- as, for example, the soul which gives life to and vivifies the body, yet does not bring it into being. Whereas in Creation the energy not only vivifies but also creates and must continuously flow into the created being, for without it, it would revert to nothingness; by giving life, He actually creates it ex nihilo. Hence, He constantly renews the existence of the world and all the creatures, creating them anew from nothing at every moment, just as in the beginning of Creation. So, in reality, "to give life" and to "bring into being" are identical.

Perek Shirah - Moon Says

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יָרֵחַ אוֹמֶרֶת - Moon Says:

Tehillim 104:19
עָשָׂה יָרֵחַ לְמוֹעֲדִים שֶׁמֶשׁ יָדַע מְבוֹאוֹ
asah yareach lemoadim shemesh yada mevo'o
Who appointed the moon for seasons; the sun knows its setting.

Scripture begins to speak of the creations that came into being on the fourth day (Bereishit 1:14-16).  It begins with the moon, though it is the smaller luminary, because the night of the fourth day came before the day.  The preceding night was served by the moon and stars, and the sun shone on the morning of the fourth day.

"Who appointed the moon for seasons."  The waning and waxing of the moon divide the year for us into twelve months, and so establish the calendar.

The moon does not have its own light, it shines in conjunction with the sun.  But "the sun knows it setting."  Its rising and setting are fixed because it shines by its own light.

Then again, G-d "appointed the moon for seasons" in the sense that the moon has two monthly seasons: the first part of the month its light increases, and the second part of the month its light decreases.  This has an effect on the seas and rivers (tides).

G-d created the moon in such a way that it is renewed at the end of each month, when it is in conjunction with the sun.  This is not so for the stars.  In accordance with its increasing and decreasing light, there is a corresponding renewal for minerals, plants and animals.  In accordance with the inclination of the sun, towards the north or towards the south, seasonal changes take place in all locations of human habitation.

"Who appointed the moon for seasons."  A homiletical interpretation says that the burgeoning and waning of moonlight symbolizes human life.  Until his middle years, a person continues to increase, therefore after he continues to decrease, until he reaches the appointed place of all living things.

The moon represents Klal Yisrael and each individual Jew.  The sun represents Hashem.  In this world Hashem is in hiding.  We don't have our own light, our task is to reflect Hashem's hidden light on the world and make it a brighter place.  

As much as we'd love to shine bright all the time, this is not in our control.  Sometimes we are afforded the opportunity and resources to do great things and make a tremendous Kiddush Hashem.  We also go through tougher periods where we try to stay afloat ourselves and have no opportunity to shine Hashem's light elsewhere.  This all depends on Hashem's will and we must accept it happily.

The Moon sings (Tehilim 104:19), "Asah yareach lemoadim" (Who appointed to the moon for seasons) the moon is made to shine at unpredictable intervals.  "shemesh yada mivo'o" (the sun knows its setting), only the sun knows when the moon will shine.  The moon doesn't ask, it takes advantage of every opportunity afforded it without question.  Either way it sings a happy tune, eagerly awaiting the sun's bright light so that it can light up the darkness of the night. (Revach)

Benei Yisrael are traditionally symbolized by the moon. The generations from Avraham are likened to the cycle of the moon. David and Shlomo were the 14th and 15th generations from Avraham Avinu. It was during their reign that Benei Yisrael was at its pinnacle. They conquered their enemies, stretched out their borders and built the Beit HaMikdash. This is just like the moon which is biggest on days 14 and 15. After Shlomo, national stability began to deteriorate and Benei Yisrael lost their splendor, just as the moon wanes after the 15th day.

There are many insights to be taken from this symbolism. The gemara (Rosh HaShanah 25a) quotes the pasuk (Tehillim 104:19) “Shemesh yada mevo’o,” the sun knows its setting (path). The gemara comments that the sun knows its path but the moon does not. The relative path of the sun as it changes from season to season is quite predictable and easy to figure out. The path of the moon, however, is erratic in nature and seems not to follow a specific pattern. We may understand this as analogous to the way in which the world is run. The nations of the world, traditionally symbolized by the sun, are governed, to a certain degree, by the laws of nature. There is a less focused Divine Providence that guides their everyday events. This is akin to the predictable path of the sun. One need not delve too deeply to realize that Benei Yisrael are governed in quite a different manner. The great miracles that adorn our history, as well as the day-to-day twists and turns that befall our nation to this day are clear indications that there is nothing haphazard about the course of events that befall us. There are no patterns or laws of nature to rely on, just as the moon follows an unpredictable path.
The gemara (Sukkah 29a) tells us that when there is an eclipse of the sun, it is a bad sign for the gentiles. When there is an eclipse of the moon, it is a bad omen for Benei Yisrael because we follow the lunar calendar and they follow the solar calendar. There is an intriguing insight that lies beneath the surface here as well. An eclipse of the moon happens when the moon moves into a position behind the earth such that the light of the sun cannot reach it. One might say that it is “the moon’s fault” that it was eclipsed. This is the way we must view calamities that befall us. We must search within for the causes and realize that it is our own deeds and actions that have brought them about.

An eclipse of the sun happens when the moon moves in front of the earth in such a way that it blocks the sun’s light from reaching certain spots on the earth. Here, too, we see that it is path of the moon that has caused the eclipse. The sun and earth are insignificant players in a solar eclipse. The lesson learned from this gemara is that everything that happens in this world is, in some way, connected to Benei Yisrael. Despite our relatively insignificant size, like that of the moon to the sun, the world was created for us and continues to be governed according to our actions. This is not something to take advantage of but rather, a great responsibility that we must bear on our shoulders at all times. (Astro Torah)

This aspect of change present in the moon counters the regularity we experience in everyday life. It causes a person to reflect on who placed the moon in the sky, who made the moon come and go in a cycle of change from night to night. The differing appearance of the moon gives us a glimpse of G-d by presenting us with a visible manifestation of His presence. Because, monthly, the change starts anew, we take the opportunity to recognize His presence, we bless Him accordingly and thereby greet G-d Himself. (Rabbi Yehudah Prero)

Perek Shirah - Sun Says

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שֶׁמֶשׁ אוֹמֵר - Sun Says:

Chavakuk 3:11
שֶׁמֶשׁ יָרֵחַ עָמַד זְבֻלָה לְאוֹר חִצֶּיךָ יְהַלֵּכוּ לְנֹגַהּ בְּרַק חֲנִיתֶךָ
shemesh yareach amad zevula leor chitzeicha yehalechu lenoga berak chanitecha.
Sun and moon stood still in its habitat; at the light of Your arrows as they go, 
at the brightness of the gleam of Your spear.

The prophet recalls the wars waged by Yehoshua, when "Sun and moon stood still in their habitat."  The heavens came to a standstill for the Benei Yisrael, "until the nation had avenged themselves of their enemies" (Yehoshua 10:13).

In the course of the battle, the Almighty cast lightning bolts and hailstones upon their enemies, who fled before the Benei Yisrael.  The lightning bolts are referred to as "arrows of G-d" and as "Your spear."

Both the sun and the moon are mentioned, yet the singular form of "stood" appears עמד (amad).  For in the future to come, the sun and moon will enjoy the same stature.  The Sages teach that they will shine with equal brightness, just as they did at the time of their creation.  It will happen after the Third Temple is built.

I am the sun, the mighty king of the sky
The most powerful man, can't look me straight in the eye
People think I am the source of all light but I wonder why
I am simply a humble servant of my master on high

To conceal His brilliant light, Hashem made me His mask
To see through this ruse, is your life's ultimate task
I yearn for the day when people will not question or ask
Together in Hashem's light, you and I will both bask 

Perek Shirah - Night Says

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לַיְלָה אוֹמֵר - Night Says:
[Night at Haifa Bay, Israel]

Tehillim 92:3
לְהַגִּיד בַּבֹּקֶר חַסְדֶּךָ וֶאֱמוּנָתְךָ בַּלֵּילוֹת
Lehagid baboker chasdecha ve'emunatcha baleilot
To relate Your loving-kindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness in the nights.

Why do we focus on "kindness" in the morning but on "faith" at night? Daytime represents clarity, when one can see and comprehend with certainty; things are "clear as day", as the saying goes. This refers to the kindnesses and miracles that He performed for us. Nighttime, however, indicates the doubt and uncertainty we may have as to when and how we will be extricated from our communal and personal challenges. As such, nighttime is a time to draw upon one's faith that redemption- geulah will come.  Even when it is darkest, we believe that G-d is faithful to us. This is one of the tests with which G-d tries us. Despite everything, we continue to cling to G-d.

The night, in relation to the day, is like the preparation in relation to the goal. The rest we have at night prepares for the work of the day. So too, emuna (belief) prepares for the completeness of true knowledge regarding Hashem’s kindness. Without belief one would not fulfill mitzvot and all the attributes that eventually lead to recognition of the truth. Therefore, belief is considered like preparation, which night represents, in regard to what the intellect and senses grasp. It is necessary for one who is to grasp as he reaches the heights of intellect to be properly led in the path of belief. He certainly cannot reach true knowledge without being prepared by belief.

A person also will not have flashes of truth at all times, as the Rambam says. His intellect may work well, and he will independently realize the truth of the Torah views. Yet, even as one who is in the light of day, he still must always be armed with the ammunition of belief. This enables his completeness to find a place to give light even when the intellectual inspiration subsides, a time that can be compared to night. That’s why day is mentioned before night, because often, even during the times of “intellectual daylight,” some “dark of night” lingers. Therefore, one always needs to be ready to hold on to belief, which is the eternal light. This is also hinted at regarding the moon, about which it says: “Go and rule in the day and the night” (Eretz Hemdah; Chulin 60b).

Perek Shirah - CHAPTER TWO: Day Says

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Chapter Two

Song of the Day, Night and the Legions of Heaven

G-d proclaims that all of Creation is for His glory, "Everyone who is called by My Name and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have fashioned, even perfected" (Yeshyahu 43:7)

יוֹם אוֹמֵר - Day Says:

Tehillim 19:3
יוֹם לְיוֹם יַבִּיעַ אֹמֶר וְלַיְלָה לְּלַיְלָה יְחַוֶּה-דָּעַת
Yom leyom yabia omer velaila lelaila yechave-daat
Day to day utters speech and night to night expresses knowledge.

The works of Creation are renewed day by day.  In the evening the sun sets and in the morning it rises, which inspires men to words of praise.  It is as if by teaching man to utter songs of acclaim and thanksgiving, the days and nights themselves "utter speech."

Renewal of Creation every day makes it plain that this pattern cannot be due to chance, and every man perceives this manifestation of G-d's might.

This chapter in Tehillim continues by comparing the rising of the sun with a groom who emerges from his chamber in the morning. The Midrash Tehillim 19 explains the comparison. Just as a groom enters in purity and emerges impure so too the sun goes from purity to impurity. The physical in relation to the spiritual realms is called impure because it cannot exist without the spiritual much like a body is dead without the soul. Each day G-d renews the workings of the Creation and draws new life from the source of life to all the creations. In this context purity represents life that comes from the source of life whereas impurity is the physical Creation without the spiritual.

Perek Shirah - Streams Say

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מַעְיָנוֹת אוֹמְרִים - Streams Say:
[Nahal Farod, Israel]

Tehillim 87:7
וְשָׁרִים כְּחֹלְלִים כָּל-מַעְיָנַי בָּךְ
vesharim kechollim kal-mayanai bach
And singers and dancers; all My fountains (thoughts) are in you (You).

Included among the excellent features of Tziyon is that it has many "singers and dancers."  For this reason, "all My thoughts" and providence "are in you" - in Tziyon.

Another interpretation says: "All My fountains" of wisdom "are in you."  All the fountains of wisdom that I draw from, are found "in you" - in Tziyon.  Similarly it says, "Therefore with joy will you draw water out of the wells of deliverance" (Yeshayahu 12:3).

In Tziyon are to be found people of many talents, among them singers and dancers.  A related reading says: Even as they dance, they compose songs.

What will both the dancers and singers chant?  They will sing, "All My fountains are in you."  They will declare that I have sealed off all My fountains to prevent their waters from spreading to the gentiles.  Everything should be only "in you."

This also alludes to, "A garden locked is my sister, O bride, a fountain locked, a spring sealed up" (Shir HaShirim 4:12).  The Jewish people have fenced themselves off from becoming assimilated among the nations.

Not only do we acclaim Tziyon, but so do the singers and musicians, and the flute players, who proclaim to everyone that G-d said, "All My" providence and directed "thoughts are in you."  As it says, "A land which HaShem your G-d cares for; the eyes of HaShem your G-d are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year" (Devarim 11:12).

The Midrash says: Said Rabbi Yehudah bar Simon in the name of Rabbi Meir:  Just as the wellspring brings forth new waters every moment, so the people of Yisrael chant songs every moment.  Thus it says, "And singers and dancers; all my fountains are in You."  The Chachamim say: Just as the men chant songs, so do the women chant songs.

A person has to check to see whether or not he is connected to HaShem. “And singers and dancers alike shall say, All my interest is in You.” (Tehillim 87:7) Divine service is attachment to G-d. 

Rashi and Radak both note that "wellsprings" (fountains) represent the outpouring of the inner dimension. Wellsprings bubble with fresh water all day and night. Yisrael, too, never ceases to praise G-d for His goodness and for giving us the privilege of serving Him. Our music is the wellspring embodied in Torah and good deeds.

Perek Shirah - Rivers Say

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נְהָרוֹת אוֹמְרִים - Rivers Say:
Tehillim 98:8
נְהָרוֹת יִמְחֲאוּ-כָף יַחַד הָרִים יְרַנֵּנוּ
neharot yimchau-chaf yachad harim yeranenu
Let the floods (rivers) clap hands; let mountains rejoice in song together.

The Scripture refers here to the Messianic Age, of which it says, "May he have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth" (v72:8).  At that time, the sea will "roar" out of much gladness, and so will "the world, and they who dwell therein."

"Let the rivers clap hands." Those who dwell by the rivers will clap hands out of great happiness.  Similarly, the Scripture says, "They clapped their hands, and said: 'Long live the king!'" (Melachim Bet 11:12).

"Let the mountains rejoice in song together."  If until now some trees were barren and only the fruit-bearing trees rejoiced in song (cf. v96:12), at the time of the Redemption all trees will bear fruit.  Even barren trees on the "mountains" will "rejoice in song together" with other trees.

It says, "The earth is HaShem's, and the fullness thereof, the world and they who dwell in it.  For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the rivers" (v24:1,2).  Hence the Scripture says here, "Let the seas roar, and its fullness; the world, and they who dwell in it.  Let the rivers clap hands; let mountains rejoice in song together."  This corresponds to, "He sends forth springs into the valleys; they run between the mountains" (v104:10).

The rivers symbolize the multitudes and the mountains are their leaders.  When the people and their leaders are united in serving G-d, they justly clap their hands and sing for joy, for they serve the world and their Creator.

Perek Shirah - Sea Says

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יַמִּים אוֹמְרִים - Sea Says:
Tehillim 93:4
מִקֹּלוֹת מַיִם רַבִּים אַדִּירִים מִשְׁבְּרֵי-יָם אַדִּיר בַּמָּרוֹם יְהוָה
mikolot mayim rabim adirim mishbereiyam adir bamarom HASHEM
Above the voices of many waters, the mighty breakers of the sea, HaShem on high is mighty.

G-d dwells "above," beyond human perception, in a lofty realm that is higher than man's comprehension.  However, due to the "voices of many waters, the mighty breakers of the sea," it is made known to everyone that "HaShem on high is mighty."  G-d is overwhelmingly powerful in His realm on high.

A story is told about the Roman emperor Hadrian who wanted to know the secret of the ocean.  He cast ropes into the water for three years, and then he heard an echo-voice proclaim, "Cease, Hadrian!"  He also wanted to know how the waters praise G-d.  He made glass chambers, placed hem in them, and lowered them into the ocean.  They reported hearing the ocean sing in praise, "HaShem is mighty on high."
This also alludes to the nations generally, who are likened to an immense quantity of "mighty waters."  From their roaring it becomes clear to all that You are "mighty on high," and You can annihilate them in an instant.  Yet You show forbearance and let them be.  Thus our Sages have taught: Those things, yes, those very things are His mighty acts and His wondrous deeds.

Adir BaMarom Hashem - the sea reveals the power of HaShem, whose word cannot be denied.

This is the Sea's song: "O mortal man, always remember the only True Source of power, HKB"H!"

Perek Shirah - Waters Say

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מַיִם אוֹמְרִים - Waters Say:
Yirmeyahu 51:16
לְקוֹל תִּתּוֹ הֲמוֹן מַיִם בַּשָּׁמַיִם וַיַּעַל נְשִׂאִים מִקְצֵה-אָרֶץ 
lekovl titov hamovn mayim bashamayim vayaal nesiim miktze-aretz
When His voice sounds with great masses of water in the heavens, 
and He raises vapors from the ends of the earth;

The Daat Sofrim states that this prayer is related to the emotions aroused in Yisrael by the sight of the many bodies of water which they saw in Babylon.  Water is the symbol of life and of Torah, too.  For Torah, like the clouds, combines earthly effort with Heavenly largess to give spiritual life and nourishment to Creation.

Perek Shirah - Fields Say

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שָׂדוֹת אוֹמְִים - Fields Say:
Mishlei 3:19
יְהוָה בְּחָכְמָה יָסַד-אָרֶץ כּוֹנֵן שָׁמַיִם בִּתְבוּנָה
HASHEM bechachma yasad-aretz konen shamayim bitvuna

HASHEM founded the earth by wisdom; He established the heavens by understanding.

The Sage begins in praise of wisdom.  How great is her excellence!  For behold: "HaShem founded the earth by wisdom," and He "established the heavens by understanding."

G-d called upon wisdom by imbuing it with the power to create heaven and earth.  By understanding "He created the heavens," for, behold, the heavenly bodies have not strayed from their paths since the day they were created.  When a man erects an edifice, after a time it is in need of repair.  But their function remains unimpaired.

Wisdom is mentioned first, for it pertains to the beginning stage.  Then comes understanding, which is set forth by inferring one thing from another.  "Knowledge" (v3:20) is established through careful thought which involves holiness, the fear of G-d and familiarity with the knowledge taught by the Sages.  Those three aspects go together.  For when there is no knowledge, there is no understanding; and when there is no understanding, there is no knowledge.

Wisdom - compare it to a drowning man who is thrown a piece of wood to grab a hold of.  The present verses pertain to people who have fallen down and require a "tree" to hold them up (cf. 3:18).  Principally it means to repent and turn back to G-d through the power of the Torah that is called "a tree of life" (ibid.).

Just as a tree brings life into the world, so does the Torah.  Just as a tree undergoes changes yet does not cease to live, so the person who devotes himself to Torah study is not cut off even after departing from this world.  In the World to Come he continues to live an external life.

When G-d created the world, He first consulted the Torah; as it says, "HaShem founded the earth by wisdom."  Accordingly, commenting on "In the beginning G-d created (Bereishit 1:11), the Targum Yerushalayim says: G-d created with wisdom.

The field is metaphor for man.  If untapped, wisdom remains wasted potential. Our mission is to nurture the G-d-given spark of wisdom and to make of it a crop that will gladden the heavens.

Perek Shirah - Desert Says

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מִדְבָּר אוֹמֵר - Desert Says:

Yeshayahu 35:1

 יְשֻׂשׂוּם מִדְבָּר וְצִיָּה וְתָגֵל עֲרָבָה וְתִפְרַח כַּחֲבַצָּלֶת
yesushoum midbar vetziya vetagel arava vetifrach kachavatzalet
The desert and the wasteland shall rejoice; the wilderness shall exult and blossom like a lily.

Yerushalayim and Tziyon, which were "desert and wasteland" throughout Jewish exile, shall rejoice upon Jewish Redemption - they shall blossom, prosper and flourish.  

Deep in the heart of Yisrael, the seed of Its essence will always remain alive, awaiting the breath of repentance and hope.  redemption would come.  The Torah was given in a wasteland and it gave life to a people.  So, too, the people will give life to the wasteland of Tziyon, and Eretz Yisrael will blossom like a lily.

Perek Shirah - Gehinnom Says

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גֵּיהִנֹּם אוֹמֵר - Gehinnom Says...

Tehillim 107:9

כִּי-הִשְׂבִּיעַ נֶפֶשׁ שֹׁקֵקָה וְנֶפֶשׁ רְעֵבָה מִלֵּא-טוֹב
ki-hisbia nefesh shokeka venefesh reeva mile-tov
For He has satisfied the longing soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with good.

Concerning thirst the Scripture speaks of "longing," for the craving of the thirsty person for drink is stronger than the craving of the hungry person for food.

Through suffering the soul is filled with praise and thanksgiving to G-d.  The human being receives instruction and becomes complete through suffering.

When man's days on earth are over, his soul longs for the infinite spiritual delights and rewards of the World to Come.  But the years on earth are not free of sin, and sin comes at a price.  There must be atonement.  The blemished soul must be purged and purified in Gehenna before it can be welcomed to the bliss of Paradise above.

Perek Shirah - Gan Eden Says

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גַן עֵדֶן אוֹמֵר - Gan Eden Says...

Shir HaShirim 4:16

עוּרִי צָפוֹן וּבוֹאִי תֵימָן הָפִיחִי גַנִּי יִזְּלוּ בְשָׂמָיו יָבֹא דוֹדִי לְגַנּוֹ וְיֹאכַל פְּרִי מְגָדָיו
uri tzafon uvoi teiman hafichi gani yizlu vesamav yavo dodi legano veyochal peri megadav
Awake from the north and come from the south!  
Blow upon My garden, let its spices flow.  
Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its precious fruit.

In Talmudic symbolism, the "north wind" represents the human desire for physical pleasure and gratification; the "south wind" represents the soul's longing for spiritual fulfillment.  Man's mission is to sublimate the succulence of the earth's gardens and elevate it to server the highest spiritual calling.  Adam and Chavah were given the Gan Eden, the perfect setting for this task.  They failed and were banished.  But the Garden remains in G-d's plan, and we will yet combine the two winds and enjoy the ultimate aroma and fruit of holiness. (Rabbi Nosson Scherman)

“Let those whose service is in the north (the non-Jews who can offer only an Olah whose slaughter took place only in the north part of the Sanctuary) be removed from their prominence in favor of those whose service is in the south (the Jewish nation who may also offer Shelamim which may be slaughtered
even in the southern part.)” 

This transfer of importance from the nations of the world to the Jewish nation, Rashi points out, refers to the welcoming of the Mashiach as redeemer.

What is the significance of this distinction between Olah and Shelamim?  The Olah represents a total offering of an earthly possession to Heaven, a universal concept which even those without Torah are capable of appreciating. Shelamim, however, comes from the word “Shalom” - peace - because its offering
effects peace between the altar, the Kohanim and the owner who all share in its parts. This sublime concept that even through his eating of sacrificial flesh a man participates in the service of his Creator is limited to the nation whose multitude of Torah commandments trains it to comprehend such a challenge and opportunity.
(Zevachim 116a)

Allegorical reading of Shir HaShirim 4:16 following Rashi:

"Awake from the north and come form the south!  Like the winds let My exiles return to My garden, let their fragrant goodness flow in Yerushalayim.  Let but my Beloved come to His garden and enjoy His precious people."

Allegorically, Yisrael's host nations will be so overwhelmed by the miracles preceding the Redemption that they will bring Jews to Eretz Yisrael. (Yeshayahu 66:20)

In the Temple, Jews will say to G-d..."Let but my Beloved come to His garden and enjoy His precious people."  If You are there, all is there.

Perek Shirah - Earth Says

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אֶרָץ אוֹמֶרֶת - Earth Says...

Tehillim 24:1
לַיהוָה הָאָרֶץ וּמְלוֹאָהּ תֵּבֵל וְיֹשְׁבֵי בָהּ
L'HASHEM haaretz umeloa tevel veishevei va
The earth is HaShem's, and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell in it.

And it says...

Yeshayahu 24:16
מִכְּנַף הָאָרֶץ זְמִרֹת שָׁמַעְנוּ צְבִי לַצַּדִּיק וָאֹמַר רָזִי-לִי רָזִי-לִי אוֹי לִי בֹּגְדִים בָּגָדוּ וּבֶגֶד בּוֹגְדִים בָּגָדוּ
miknaf haaretz zemirot shamanu tzevi latzadik vaomar razi-li razi-li oi li bogdim bagadu uveged bogdim bagadu
From the end of the earth, songs do I hear - glory for the righteous!  
But I say, this is my secret, this is my secret!  
Woe is me, for traitors will betray, a treacherous betrayal will they betray!

The Zohar says that the Holy Spirit first rested upon David and only then he uttered this song.  This song makes clear that the purpose of Creation is to establish the kingship of G-d in the world.  David composed this psalm for the occasion when the Aron would be placed in the Holy Temple - "His sanctuary" (24:3)

David goes on to describe the qualities that a man must possess before he can enter the Beit HaMikdash, and he concludes the psalm with the verses that will be recited when the Aron will be brought into the Temple.  They begin, "Lift up your heads, O you gates, and be lifted up, you everlasting doors; so the King of glory may enter." (24:7).

Yeshayahu hears in his prophetic vision the songs to be sung in the Future - from the "end of the earth," from the End of Days, those songs can be heard throughout time.  The time will then come when the righteous will reign and G-d will give them glory.  When will this be?  Yeshayahu knows, but cannot say - he is sworn to secrecy.  But this much he can say, much suffering will pass, much treacherous betrayal of the Jewish people.  And Yeshayahu wails repeatedly, over the betrayal of his people and over the fate of those who betray them.

Perek Shirah - Song of the Universe - CHAPTER ONE: Heavens Say

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Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi said 

Whoever is engrossed in Perek Shirah in this world, 
will merit to learn, teach, observe, perform, and fulfill; 
and his Torah learning will remain with him, 
he will be rescued from the Evil Inclination,
from an evil occurance, from jostling in the grave, 
from the judgment of Gehenna, and from the birthpangs of Mashiach.  
And he will live long and merit to live 
in the days of Mashiach and to the life of the World to Come.

Chapter One

Song of Heaven, Earth, and their Legions

Rabbi Eliezer said, "If man's hearts were not stopped up and their eyes sealed, they would be unable to bear the sound of the melodies coming from the solar sphere when it glorifies and praises HaShem!"

שָׁמַיִם אוֹמְרִים - Heavens Say...
Tehillim 19:2
הַשָּׁמַיִם מְסַפְּרִים כְּבוֹד-אֵל וּמַעֲשֵׂה יָדָיו מַגִּיד הָרָקִיעַ
hashamayim mesaprim kevod-Kel umaase yadav magid harakia
The heavens declare the glory of G-d, and the firmament proclaims His handiwork.

King David declares that the glory of G-d is revealed in His world in two ways:  

1. by looking closely at the wonders of the world that He created.
2. and through Torah.

He makes it known, in fact, that the glory of G-d can be discerned more by reading through the Torah than by peering at the sun and the moon and the host of heaven.

Chazal teach that when at the Creation of the sun was first established in its orbit, it raised is voice in sweet melody and sang, "Give thanks to HaShem, proclaim His Name, declare His doings among the peoples" (Yeshayahu 12:4).   

To what can this be compared?

A man was passing through a forest and beheld a house.  He went inside and found a table set with beautiful dishes that were arranged in a most orderly pattern.  He spent a few moments in the house and expressed a great desire to dine.  But he departed in the meantime, and when he returned, he found the table covered with a great variety of foods.  So he was certain that someone lived in that house, although he could not be seen. 

Similarly, "The heavens declare the glory of G-d; and the firmament proclaims His handwork."

"Raise your eyes on high and see Who created these!" 
(Yeshayahu 40:26)

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