Tehillim (Psalms)

Avraham Tzvi Schwartz

The verses of the Tehillim, the psalms, contain a powerful depth. Reciting them with this in mind allows us to access this depth and grow from it. One way we do this is by repeating individual psalms. A second way is by studying them intensively in a thorough, penetrating way. Concerning this second way, the Rabbis teach, a person could spend his entire life simply learning one verse.

Here is an example of a single verse together with an interpretation that takes it a little beyond its simple meaning:

שׁוּבָה ד'...

Come back Hashem…

“Where am I? When did it become so dark, so dismal, so depressing? Why are You not holding my hand, Hashem? Come back. Please. Now. Come back to me.”

Hashem is Your father. Hashem is Your friend. Still, when you walk away from the ideals He wants you to live by, when you walk away from what He wants you to be, you forget this. You lose your ability to see Hashem. You cannot feel Him. You even almost forget that He exists.

Like a child in a dark room, you need to clutch that adult hand. You need to feel once again that Hashem is with you. Call Him. Call for that comforting closeness, that Divine presence. Attach yourself to Him now.

חַלְּצָה נַפְשִׁי...

release my soul…

In truth, the world is all black and white, all dark or light. While you think you see many shades of gray, many shades of pink, blue and orange, they are all illusions, fantasies of your perception.

The test of this world is to see the good and the evil, and to separate between the two. For most times evil dresses itself with a cloak of righteousness and virtue. Also, it slanders and besmirches goodness, painting it over, soiling it with ugly streaks and hideous stains. This fault, this mistake darkens your world. It colors it. It tilts it. It turns your soup-bowl upside down. Because of this you make mistakes; you pursue what is wrong, what is false. Because of this you strive for that which leads only to your own death.

Pray to Hashem to release you from this darkness. Ask Him to free your thoughts from that which is false, from that which does not exist. Beg Him to loosen the chains of ignorance and illusion, that stop you from seeing the truth.

... הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי לְמֲעַן חַסְדֶּךָ

…save me with Your powerful kindness

To live in Hashem’s world is a gift. To see every one of life’s problems as a challenge is a wealth. To understand that every hardship is only a test, is a treasure. For the entire world is about climbing ladders. It is about bettering yourself. It is about enriching your soul. It is only this that fills your life with sunshine and smiles.

This is what you need from Hashem. This is what you ask of Him when you cry out to Him to save you from your troubles, when you beg Him to remove you from your worries. This is what you really want when you pray for release from your misery, from your agony. This is Hashem’s great kindness.


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