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Mizmor 015 - Who is Worthy?

(א) מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד ה' מִי יָגוּר בְּאָהֳלֶךָ מִי יִשְׁכֹּן בְּהַר קָדְשֶׁךָ:
(1) Hashem, who is worthy of being in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy mountain?
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev. 8]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 015 - Who is Worthy?
In this mizmor David gives us a unique summary of the entire Torah. As the Gemara points out (Makkos 24a), David reduces the 613 mitzvos of the Torah to 11 fundamental principles. Here he introduces these principles, explaining that this is what it takes for a Jew to be worthy of serving Hashem in the Mikdash, the place where the Shechinah dwells.
Hashem placed mankind in this world together with the lower creatures, but He charged man with the duty of rising above his circumstances and distinguishing himself from the other creatures. However, as long as man remains immersed in the pleasures of this world, he is unworthy of being in the vicinity of the Shechinah, even for a short while.
Navigating Tehillim (1). In Mizmor 008 David describes man’s special place in the universe as being superior to that of all other creatures. However, he is given this exalted position on condition that he remains worthy.
Navigating Tehillim (2). A common feature of many mizmorim is the importance of developing a closeness with Hashem, which is described as dwelling in His house or His tent. Here in Mizmor 015 (15:1) David examines himself and asks, “Who is worthy of being in Your tent?” In Mizmor 026 the desire to dwell in Hashem’s house became part of David’s spiritual development as he said, “I love the shelter of Your House” (26:8). In Mizmor 027 he incorporates that desire into his tefillah when he says, “there is one thing I have asked of Hashem, and it is this that I will seek, that I dwell in the House of Hashem all the days of my life” (27:4).
Exploring the Mizmor
PART 1. WHO IS WORTHY? David states the purpose of the mizmor in the form of a question:
(א) מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד ה' מִי יָגוּר בְּאָהֳלֶךָ מִי יִשְׁכֹּן בְּהַר קָדְשֶׁךָ:
(1) Hashem, who is worthy of being in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy mountain?
The holy mountain was initially Har Tzion, which was where David kept the aron (Ark) of Hashem. Later the aron was moved by Shlomoh Hamelech to Har HaMoriah, the site which was revealed to David as the location of the future Bais Hamikdash.
PART 2. THE 11 PRINCIPLES. David answers the question with a list of 11 fundamental principles, identified here as [1] through [11].
(ב) [1] הוֹלֵךְ תָּמִים [2] וּפֹעֵל צֶדֶק [3] וְדֹבֵר אֱמֶת בִּלְבָבוֹ: (ג) [4] לֹא רָגַל עַל לְשֹׁנוֹ [5] לֹא עָשָׂה לְרֵעֵהוּ רָעָה [6] וְחֶרְפָּה לֹא נָשָׂא עַל קְרֹבוֹ: (ד) [7] נִבְזֶה בְּעֵינָיו נִמְאָס [8] וְאֶת יִרְאֵי ה' יְכַבֵּד [9] נִשְׁבַּע לְהָרַע וְלֹא יָמִר: (ה) [01] כַּסְפּוֹ לֹא נָתַן בְּנֶשֶׁךְ [11] וְשֹׁחַד עַל נָקִי לֹא לָקָח . . .
(2) [1] He walks in perfect innocence. [2] He does what is right. [3] He speaks the truth in his heart. (3) [4] He has no gossip on his tongue. [5] He does no harm to his fellow. [6] He does not embarrass his close relative. (4) [7] In his eyes, a person who is contemptible [because of his sins], is repulsive. [8] He honors those who fear Hashem. [9] He takes an oath to his own [physical] detriment and he does not retract it. (5) [10] He does not lend his money at interest. [11] “[If he is a judge] he does not take a bribe to favor an innocent [party].
PART 3. CONCLUSION. David concludes the mizmor (in the latter part of posuk 5) by assuring his listeners that those who practice these principles will have Hashem’s support:
. . . עֹשֵׂה אֵלֶּה לֹא יִמּוֹט לְעוֹלָם:
The one who does these [things] will never falter.
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. WHO IS WORTHY?
(א) מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד
mizmor composed by David.
ה' מִי יָגוּר בְּאָהֳלֶךָ
מִי יִשְׁכֹּן בְּהַר קָדְשֶׁךָ:
Hashem, who is worthy of being in the courtyard of Your tent  ה' מִי יָגוּר בְּאָהֳלֶךָ , which is the holy Mikdash, where Your Shechinah resides? Who may dwell on Your holy mountain — מִי יִשְׁכֹּן בְּהַר קָדְשֶׁךָ , where Your Mikdash stands.
PART 2. THE 11 PRINCIPLES.
(ב) הוֹלֵךְ תָּמִים
[1] He walks in the path of perfect innocence, observing the mitzvos of Hashem whole-heartedly and sincerely, without consciously interpreting their meaning to suit his own convenience.
וּפֹעֵל צֶדֶק
[2] He does what is right towards othersHe is careful that all his actions will be done with fairness, so that he does not cause harm or pain to another person against the halachah.
וְדֹבֵר אֱמֶת בִּלְבָבוֹ:
[3] He speaks the truth not only with his mouth but in his heart, which is the essential part of a person. Not only do his actions in financial dealings conform to his verbal commitments, they also conform to the thoughts that he has in his heart.
(ג) לֹא רָגַל עַל לְשֹׁנוֹ
[4] He has no gossip on his tongue. He is not like a spy who is eager to uncover secrets about people. He knows that even the truth can cause great harm.
לֹא עָשָׂה לְרֵעֵהוּ רָעָה
[5] He does no harm to his fellow. He faithfully observes all the prohibitions against harming another person, even when he himself has been the victim of deceptive practices.
וְחֶרְפָּה לֹא נָשָׂא עַל קְרֹבוֹ
[6] He does not insult or embarrass his close relative or anyone else with whom he comes in contact.
(ד) נִבְזֶה בְּעֵינָיו נִמְאָס
[7] In his eyes, a person who is contemptible  נִבְזֶה בְּעֵינָיו  because of his sins, is repulsive  נִמְאָס , even if the wicked person is rich and powerful.
That applies even if the sinner is his own father. King Chizkayah irreverently dragged the remains of his dead idol-worshipping father Achaz on a bed of ropes — Makkos 24a.
וְאֶת יִרְאֵי ה' יְכַבֵּד
[8] He honors those who fear Hashem. In contrast to his feeling of disgust towards the rare wicked person with whom he comes in contact, he respects all those many who are occupied with learning Torah and doing good deeds.
נִשְׁבַּע לְהָרַע וְלֹא יָמִר
[9] He takes an oath to his own physical detriment  נִשְׁבַּע לְהָרַע  to fast, desist from material pleasures, and give money to charity. He stands firmly behind his oath and does not retract it — וְלֹא יָמִר . The reason that he takes an oath is because he knows he is commiting himself to something difficult and he uses the power of the oath to prevent his yetzer hara from discouraging him.
(ה) כַּסְפּוֹ לֹא נָתַן בְּנֶשֶׁךְ
[10] He does not lend his money at interest, even when the borrower is fully agreeable to paying it. Nevertheless he knows he would be taking the money of his fellow unjustly.
The reason that David places great emphasis on this sin is because the world views it as a common practice and it does not have the negative connotation of robbery and theft. However, David does not add to the severity of the Torah’s requirement, and therefore he does not object to taking interest from a non-Jew. The reason is that the restriction against taking interest is based on the principle of doing chesed to a fellow Jew. That requirement does not apply to a non-Jew unless the non-Jew also practices chesed with the Jew.
וְשֹׁחַד עַל נָקִי לֹא לָקָח
[11] If he is a judge he does not take a bribe to favor an innocent party, all the more so to favor a guilty party. He also does not take advantage of an innocent party who wants to pay a bribe as insurance against an unfavorable verdict. Even though the bribe is not affecting the judge’s ruling, it is wrong for him to accept it.
PART 3. CONCLUSION.
עֹשֵׂה אֵלֶּה לֹא יִמּוֹט לְעוֹלָם:
The one who does these things — עֹשֵׂה אֵלֶּה , including all the relevant positive and negative commandments, will never falter  לֹא יִמּוֹט לְעוֹלָם . Not only will he be eligible to be in the presence of the Shechinah, Hashem will support him whenever he is threatened with harm since he is fulfilling the purpose of his being in this world.
Living the Mizmor
Listed below are some of the thoughts that you might have in mind when you say the words of the mizmor as a tefillah and some of the lessons that you can draw from this mizmor.
Tefillos for Life - Your Relationship with Hashem.
[15:1] A PLEA FOR GUIDANCE. – ה' מִי יָגוּר בְּאָהֳלֶךָ – “Hashem, who is worthy of being in Your tent?” Ask Hashem to guide you in doing what is needed to please Him and maintain an ongoing closeness with Him.
Lessons for Life - Your Behavior.
[15:2] SINCERITY. – הוֹלֵךְ תָּמִים – “[1] He walks in perfect innocence. Observe the mitzvos of Hashem whole-heartedly and sincerely, without consciously interpreting their meaning to suit your convenience.
[15:2] FAIRNESS. – וּפֹעֵל צֶדֶק – “[2] He does what is right.” Act charitably toward your fellow man and make sure not to cause him harm or pain.
[15:2] TRUTH. – וְדֹבֵר אֱמֶת בִּלְבָבוֹ – “[3] He speaks the truth in his heart.” Let your spoken words conform to what is in your heart.”
[15:3] NO GOSSIP. – לֹא רָגַל עַל לְשֹׁנוֹ – “[4] He has no gossip on his tongue.” Don’t reveal private information, even if true, and even if seemingly innocent.”
[15:3] NO HARM. – לֹא עָשָׂה לְרֵעֵהוּ רָעָה – “[5] He does no harm to his fellow.” Avoid actions that cause financial or emotional harm to others.”
[15:3] NO INSULT. – וְחֶרְפָּה לֹא נָשָׂא עַל קְרֹבוֹ – “[6] He does not embarrass his close relative.” Don’t insult another person or embarrass him in any way. Treat him as though he were your close relative, with whom you want to maintain a long-lasting friendly relationship.”
[15:4] NO FLATTERING. – נִבְזֶה בְּעֵינָיו נִמְאָס – “[7] In his eyes, a person who is contemptible [because of his sins], is repulsive.” Don’t flatter a sinful person, even if he is rich and powerful.”
[15:4] RESPECT. – וְאֶת יִרְאֵי ה' יְכַבֵּד – “[8] He honors those who fear Hashem.” Be respectful towards individuals who are occupied with learning Torah and doing good deeds.”
[15:4] STAY COMMITTED. – נִשְׁבַּע לְהָרַע וְלֹא יָמִר – “[9] He takes an oath to his own [physical] detriment and he does not retract it.” If you make a vow to desist from a material pleasure, don’t weaken your commitment.”
[15:5] NO INTEREST. – כַּסְפּוֹ לֹא נָתַן בְּנֶשֶׁךְ – “[10] He does not lend his money at interest.” If you lend someone money, don’t charge him interest.”
[15:5] NO BRIBES. – וְשֹׁחַד עַל נָקִי לֹא לָקָח – “[11] He does not take a bribe to favor an innocent [party].” If you have the duty of judging a situation don’t accept a bribe of any kind, even if you are convinced it will not affect your judgement.
Sources
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the pesukim of this mizmor are listed below.
א - אבן עזרא, מצודות, נר לרגלי
ב - [1] אבן עזרא, רד"ק, נר לרגלי
ב - [2] אבן עזרא, רד"ק, נר לרגלי
ב - [3] רש"י, אבן עזרא, רד"ק, נר לרגלי
ג - [4] אבן עזרא, רד"ק, נר לרגלי
ג - [5] רד"ק, נר לרגלי
ג - [6] רד"ק
ד - [7] רש"י, נר לרגלי
ד - [8] רש"י, נר לרגלי
ד - [9] אבן עזרא, רד"ק
ה - [01] רד"ק
ה - [11] אבן עזרא, נר לרגלי
ה - אבן עזרא, נר לרגלי