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19.04.2017 13:43    Comments: 0    Categories: Weekly Parashah      Tags: torah  shabbat  parasha  shemini  

"That my whole being might sing hymns to You and never be silent" (Ps. 30:13)

Psalm 30 begins with the words:  "A psalm of David.  A song for the dedication of the House," and was written for reciting at the dedication of the Temple.[2] If we presume that David wrote Psalms and bear in mind that he knew the Temple would not be built by him, but by his son, this raises the question of what moved him to write this psalm.

In his commentary on this verse, Ibn Ezra cites Rabbi Moshe ha-Cohen ibn Gikatila, whose interpretation is as follows:  "David mourned when Nathan told him that he would not build the House of the Lord, but when he told him that his son Solomon would build the House, then he found strength to rejoice instead of mourn, for his son was like himself."

In the light of this we can understand the conclusion of the psalm:  "that [my] whole being might sing hymns to You and never be silent; O Lord my G-d, I will praise You forever."  David must have recalled the dedication of the Tabernacle by the Israelites in the wilderness.  The eighth day, following seven days of ordination—a day that should have been full of rejoicing—turned to a day of mourning when Aaron's sons offered "alien fire, which He had not enjoined upon them" (Lev. 10:1).  Two verses later we read:  "Then Moses said to Aaron, 'This is what the Lord meant when He said:  Through those near to Me I show Myself holy, and gain glory before all the people.'  And Aaron was silent" (Lev. 10:3).  When the Holy One, blessed be He, "executes judgment upon the righteous He becomes feared, and exalted and praised."[3] When Aaron heard the Lord's words, "he was silent."  This is interpreted as meaning that "he had been crying aloud, but then he became silent."[4]

When David wrote the psalm for the dedication of the House, apparently he recalled Aaron and his sons, and he prayed that when his son should build the Temple, the Lord would be honored by the House being built, not by His executing judgment.  Then in the House there will be songs of thanksgiving, not the silence of mourning.  David requested that the same tragedy not repeat itself.  "All the days of my life I will give thanks to You for having forgiven me."[5] I will rejoice with my son in building the House, not like Aaron and his sons in the wilderness:

You turned my lament into dancing;

You undid my sackcloth and girded me with joy,

That [my] whole being might sing hymns to You and not fall silent;

O Lord my G-d, I will praise You forever.

Translated by Rachel Rowen

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