NAFSHI

A Unique Online Torah Learning Resource

Mizmor 042 - Yearning for Redemption

(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ מַשְׂכִּיל לִבְנֵי קֹרַח: (ב) כְּאַיָּל תַּעֲרֹג עַל אֲפִיקֵי מָיִם כֵּן נַפְשִׁי תַעֲרֹג אֵלֶיךָ אֱלֹקִים:
(1) For the musician, a song of enlightenment by the sons of Korach. (2) [The nation’s soul calls out to Hashem:] As the deer cries out for springs of water, so my soul cries out for You, O G-d.
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev 7]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 042 - Yearning for Redemption
This mizmor is one of many in Tehillim that were designed to express the yearnings and tefillos of the Jewish nation in a time of Galus (Exile). The singer speaks for the nation as it appeals to Hashem to bring the Geulah (Redemption). At various points he refers to the soul of the nation, which represents the deepest feelings of the people. The yearning of the nation is visualized as the thirst for cooling water of a deer in the desert. The people recall the joy they felt in their nearness to Hashem when they came to Yerushalayim three times a year. The nation tries to console its anguished soul by expressing confidence that the long-awaited Geulah will surely come.
Historical Background
This is the first of a series of mizmorim that were composed by the sons of Korach and passed down from generation to generation by their descendants. Ultimately, these beautiful mizmorim were edited by King David and incorporated into the sefer Tehillim. The sons of Korach were Assir, Elkanah, and Aviassaf, as mentioned in Shemos 6:24. They had initially joined their father’s rebellion but they soon realized their mistake. They repented and dissociated themselves from the conspiracy. When the earth opened up, Hashem put them on a safe ledge where they were given the gift of Divine prophecy. (See Midrash Tehillim 45:1.)
Exploring the Mizmor
The form of the mizmor is a dialog between the nation and its soul. The soul is at first inconsolable, but after repeated attempts the nation is able to convince its soul that there is hope for a bright future.
PART 1. A CRY OF LONGING. The soul of the nation in exile cries out in longing for Hashem to end His estrangement. That yearning is visualized as the thirst for cooling water of a deer in the desert. The people recall the joy they felt in their nearness to Hashem when they came to Yerushalayim three times a year.
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ מַשְׂכִּיל לִבְנֵי קֹרַח: (ב) כְּאַיָּל תַּעֲרֹג עַל אֲפִיקֵי מָיִם כֵּן נַפְשִׁי תַעֲרֹג אֵלֶיךָ אֱלֹקִים: (ג) צָמְאָה נַפְשִׁי לֵאלֹקִים לְאֵ־ל חָי מָתַי אָבוֹא וְאֵרָאֶה פְּנֵי אֱלֹקִים: (ד) הָיְתָה לִּי דִמְעָתִי לֶחֶם יוֹמָם וָלָיְלָה בֶּאֱמֹר אֵלַי כָּל הַיּוֹם אַיֵּה אֱלֹקֶיךָ: (ה) אֵלֶּה אֶזְכְּרָה וְאֶשְׁפְּכָה עָלַי נַפְשִׁי כִּי אֶעֱבֹר בַּסָּךְ אֶדַּדֵּם עַד בֵּית אֱלֹקִים בְּקוֹל רִנָּה וְתוֹדָה הָמוֹן חוֹגֵג:
(1) For the musician, a song of enlightenment by the sons of Korach. (2) [The nation’s soul calls out to Hashem:] As the deer cries out for springs of water, so my soul cries out for You, O G-d. (3) My soul thirsts for G-d, for the living G-d. When will I come [again to Yerushalayim] and appear before G-d. (4) My tears have been [my] bread, day and by night, for [the oppressors] say to me all day long, “Where is your G-d?” (5) These do I remember and I pour out my soul, how I used to pass along in the [stately] throng, proceeding slowly to the House of G-d, with joyous song [of praise] and thanksgiving, a dancing multitude.
PART 2. CONSOLATION. The nation tries to console its anguished soul by expressing confidence that the long-awaited Geulah will surely come. This consolation will appear again at the end of the mizmor.
(ו) מַה תִּשְׁתּוֹחֲחִי נַפְשִׁי וַתֶּהֱמִי עָלָי הוֹחִילִי לֵאלֹקִים כִּי עוֹד אוֹדֶנּוּ יְשׁוּעוֹת פָּנָיו:
(6) [The nation tries to console itself:] Why are you downcast, my soul, and confused within me? Wait and look to G-d! For I shall yet thank Him for the yeshuos [from] before Him.
PART 3. MEMORIES. The soul of the nation renews its plea, explaining why it is so difficult to be consoled. There are so many good memories of times past and they contrast so harshly with the bitter present. The tribulations that the nation is experiencing are like repeated floodings of raging waters.
(ז) אֱלֹקַי עָלַי נַפְשִׁי תִשְׁתּוֹחָח עַל כֵּן אֶזְכָּרְךָ מֵאֶרֶץ יַרְדֵּן וְחֶרְמוֹנִים מֵהַר מִצְעָר: (ח) תְּהוֹם אֶל תְּהוֹם קוֹרֵא לְקוֹל צִנּוֹרֶיךָ כָּל מִשְׁבָּרֶיךָ וְגַלֶּיךָ עָלַי עָבָרוּ:
(7) My G-d, my soul is downcast within me because I remember [how we used to journey from] the land of Yardein and Chermon's peaks, as well as from Mount Mitzar. (8) [But now] watery deep calls out to watery deep while [there is] the [roaring] sound of Your streams. All Your breakers and Your waves have swept over me.
PART 4. A NEW CONSOLATION. The nation again tries to console its soul, this time with thoughts of the special tefillah of praise the people will sing when the yeshuah comes.
(ט) יוֹמָם יְצַוֶּה ה' חַסְדּוֹ וּבַלַּיְלָה שִׁירוֹ עִמִּי תְּפִלָּה לְאֵל חַיָּי: (י) אוֹמְרָה לְאֵל סַלְעִי לָמָה שְׁכַחְתָּנִי לָמָּה קֹדֵר אֵלֵךְ בְּלַחַץ אוֹיֵב: (יא) בְּרֶצַח בְּעַצְמוֹתַי חֵרְפוּנִי צוֹרְרָי בְּאָמְרָם אֵלַי כָּל הַיּוֹם אַיֵּה אֱלֹקֶיךָ:
(9) Hashem will [surely] command His kindness [and bring the glorious] day and [even] in the night [of Exile], His song is with me, a tefillah to the G-d of my life. (10) I will say to G-d, my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me?” Why must I walk in black gloom under the foe’s oppression?’ (11) [They taunt me] with murderous viciousness to [pierce] my bones. My tormentors have mocked me when they say to me all day long, ‘Where is your G-d?’
PART 5. CONCLUSION. The nation’s confidence has been restored and so it concludes the mizmor with final words of consolation. These final words are very similar to the earlier consolation in Part 2, but this time there is an added emphasis on the immediacy of the Geulah.
(יב) מַה תִּשְׁתּוֹחֲחִי נַפְשִׁי וּמַה תֶּהֱמִי עָלָי הוֹחִילִי לֵאלֹקִים כִּי עוֹד אוֹדֶנּוּ יְשׁוּעֹת פָּנַי וֵאלֹהָי:
(12) Why are you downcast, my soul, and why are you confused within me? Wait and look to G-d! For I shall yet thank Him for yeshuos in my own lifetime, [demonstrating to all that He is] my G-d.
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. A CRY OF YEARNING.
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ מַשְׂכִּיל לִבְנֵי קֹרַח:
For the musician — לַמְנַצֵּחַ  who will perform it, this is a maskil (song of enlightenment) composed by the sons of Korach — מַשְׂכִּיל לִבְנֵי קֹרַח .
(ב) כְּאַיָּל תַּעֲרֹג עַל אֲפִיקֵי מָיִם
כֵּן נַפְשִׁי תַעֲרֹג אֵלֶיךָ אֱלֹקִים:
[The nation’s soul calls out to Hashem:As the deer — כְּאַיָּל  in the barren desert plaintively cries out — תַּעֲרֹג  for springs of cooling water — עַל אֲפִיקֵי מָיִם – to quench its thirst, so my soul cries out for You, O G-d  כֵּן נַפְשִׁי תַעֲרֹג אֵלֶיךָ אֱלֹקִים .
(ג) צָמְאָה נַפְשִׁי לֵאלֹקִים לְקֵל חָי
My soul thirsts for G-d  צָמְאָה נַפְשִׁי לֵאלֹקִים , for the living G-d.  לְקֵל חָי – in contrast to the lifeless gods of the nation in which I am exiled. Just as a living creature cannot live without water, my soul cannot live without G-d.
מָתַי אָבוֹא וְאֵרָאֶה פְּנֵי אֱלֹקִים:
My soul is impatient. When will I come  מָתַי אָבוֹא  again to Yerushalayim and appear before G-d  וְאֵרָאֶה פְּנֵי אֱלֹקִים  on the Three Festivals as in days of old to restore my soul as fresh water restores the soul of one who is thirsty.
(ד) הָיְתָה לִּי דִמְעָתִי לֶחֶם 
יוֹמָם וָלָיְלָה
My tears have been my bread — הָיְתָה לִּי דִמְעָתִי לֶחֶם , for my weeping has displaced my appetite by day and by night  יוֹמָם וָלָיְלָה .
בֶּאֱמֹר אֵלַי כָּל הַיּוֹם 
אַיֵּה אֱלֹקֶיךָ:
I weep not only for myself but for Your honor, Hashem! For the oppressors say to me all day long — בֶּאֱמֹר אֵלַי כָּל הַיּוֹם  throughout the Exile, “Where is your G-d  אַיֵּה אֱלֹקֶיךָ ? He has forgotten you long ago! If He really is what you claim, He would surely have come to your aid and rescued you from your Exile.”
(ה) אֵלֶּה אֶזְכְּרָה 
וְאֶשְׁפְּכָה עָלַי נַפְשִׁי
The experiences of previous generations are so alive for me that I feel as though I lived through them myself. The joy that the Jewish people felt during the Festivals stands in contrast to what is happening now. These things do I remember and I pour out my soul — אֵלֶּה אֶזְכְּרָה וְאֶשְׁפְּכָה עָלַי נַפְשִׁי  in tears for what has happened to me:
כִּי אֶעֱבֹר בַּסָּךְ אֶדַּדֵּם 
עַד בֵּית אֱלֹקִים
I recall how I used to pass along  כִּי אֶעֱבֹר  in the stately throng — בַּסָּךְ , proceeding slowly  אֶדַּדֵּם  and unafraid, along with the others to the House of G-d — עַד בֵּית אֱלֹקִים  in Yerushalayim.
בְּקוֹל רִנָּה וְתוֹדָה 
הָמוֹן חוֹגֵג:
We came with joyous song of praise and thanksgiving — בְּקוֹל רִנָּה וְתוֹדָה a dancing, celebrating multitude — הָמוֹן חוֹגֵג .
PART 2. CONSOLATION.
(ו) מַה תִּשְׁתּוֹחֲחִי נַפְשִׁי 
וַתֶּהֱמִי עָלָי
[The nation tries to console itself:] Why are you downcast, my soul — מַה תִּשְׁתּוֹחֲחִי נַפְשִׁי , and why are you confused within me  וַתֶּהֱמִי עָלָי ?
הוֹחִילִי לֵאלֹקִים 
כִּי עוֹד אוֹדֶנּוּ יְשׁוּעוֹת פָּנָיו:
Wait confidently and look to G-d — הוֹחִילִי לֵאלֹקִים  for the yeshuahFor  כִּי  just as I praised Him for past yeshuos, I shall yet have the opportunity to thank Him  עוֹד אוֹדֶנּוּ  for the yeshuos  יְשׁוּעוֹת  that He will send to me directly from before Him  פָּנָיו .
PART 3. MEMORIES.
(ז) אֱלֹקַי עָלַי נַפְשִׁי תִשְׁתּוֹחָח 
עַל כֵּן אֶזְכָּרְךָ מֵאֶרֶץ יַרְדֵּן 
וְחֶרְמוֹנִים מֵהַר מִצְעָר:
My G-d, my soul is downcast within me — אֱלֹקַי עָלַי נַפְשִׁי תִשְׁתּוֹחָח because I remember — עַל כֵּן אֶזְכָּרְךָ  how we used to journey to the Beis HaMikdash (Temple) from the farthest reaches of our land, from the land of Yardein and Chermon 's peaks — מֵאֶרֶץ יַרְדֵּן וְחֶרְמוֹנִים , as well as from Mount Mitzar  מֵהַר מִצְעָר .
(ח) תְּהוֹם אֶל תְּהוֹם 
קוֹרֵא לְקוֹל צִנּוֹרֶיךָ
But now one disaster is following another. It is as though each tragedy is calling to the next to befall us. The disasters are like a series of torrential floods from below the earth with little pause in between. Thus, watery deep calls out to watery deep — תְּהוֹם אֶל תְּהוֹם קוֹרֵא  while at the same time there is the roaring sound  לְקוֹל  of Your streams  צִנּוֹרֶיךָ  of rushing waters from on high.
כָּל מִשְׁבָּרֶיךָ וְגַלֶּיךָ 
עָלַי עָבָרוּ:
Wherever I turn I am inundated by the deluge. All Your fast-moving breakers — כָּל מִשְׁבָּרֶיךָ  and Your relentless waves  וְגַלֶּיךָ  have swept over me — עָלַי עָבָרוּ .
PART 4. A NEW CONSOLATION.
(ט) יוֹמָם יְצַוֶּה ה‘ חַסְדּוֹ
My soul, don’t despair; Hashem will surely command His kindness and bring the glorious day of yeshuah  יוֹמָם יְצַוֶּה ה‘ חַסְדּוֹ .
וּבַלַּיְלָה שִׁירֹה עִמִּי 
תְּפִלָּה לְקֵל חַיָּי:
 
And although I am still in the dark night of the Exile — וּבַלַּיְלָה His song of tefillah is with me — שִׁירֹה עִמִּי  so that even now I will sing of the kindnesses that He showed my forefathers in times past and which He continues to do for me now in this night of Galus (Exile). And so I shall say tefillah  תְּפִלָּה  to the G-d of my life  לְקֵל חַיָּי  asking Him to continue to grant me life until the yeshuah is here.
(י) אוֹמְרָה לְקֵל סַלְעִי
לָמָה שְׁכַחְתָּנִי 
לָמָּה קֹדֵר אֵלֵךְ בְּלַחַץ אוֹיֵב:
I will say to G-d, Who was always my Rock, — אוֹמְרָה לְקֵל סַלְעִי , my tower of strength, Who protected me from enemies in times past: “Why have You forgotten me now in this Galus — לָמָה שְׁכַחְתָּנִי Why must I walk in black gloom — לָמָּה קֹדֵר אֵלֵךְ  under the foe’s oppression — בְּלַחַץ אוֹיֵב ?”
(יא) בְּרֶצַח בְּעַצְמוֹתַי חֵרְפוּנִי צוֹרְרָי 
בְּאָמְרָם אֵלַי כָּל הַיּוֹם אַיֵּה אֱלֹקֶיךָ:
Their taunts are like daggers that are killing me with murderous viciousness — בְּרֶצַח  that seems to pierce my very bones — בְּעַצְמוֹתַי  My tormentors have mocked me — חֵרְפוּנִי צוֹרְרָי , especially when they say to me all day long — בְּאָמְרָם אֵלַי כָּל הַיּוֹם , “If He supports you, Where is your G-d  אַיֵּה אֱלֹקֶיךָ ? How can He let you remain in Galus at the mercy of tragic circumstance? It must be that He wants you to be humiliated and we are merely doing His will.”
PART 5. CONCLUSION.
(יב) מַה תִּשְׁתּוֹחֲחִי נַפְשִׁי 
וּמַה תֶּהֱמִי עָלָי
Why are you downcast, my soul — מַה תִּשְׁתּוֹחֲחִי נַפְשִׁי , and why are you confused within me  וּמַה תֶּהֱמִי עָלָי ? Why are you allowing yourself to be affected by the taunts of your tormentors? Why do you let them shake your emunah?
הוֹחִילִי לֵאלֹקִים 
כִּי עוֹד אוֹדֶנּוּ יְשׁוּעֹת פָּנַי וֵאלֹקָי:
Wait confidently and look to G-d — הוֹחִילִי לֵאלֹקִים  for the yeshuahFor  -כִּי just as I praised Him for past yeshuos, I shall yet have the opportunity to answer the nations who have been humiliating me and I will be able to thank Him  עוֹד אוֹדֶנּוּ  for yeshuos in my own lifetime  יְשׁוּעוֹת פָּנַי , demonstrating to all that He is my G-d — וֵאלֹקָי , as He has always been.
Living the Mizmor
Listed below are some of the lessons that you can draw from this mizmor, as well as some of the thoughts you might have in mind when you say the words of the mizmor as a tefillah, expressing your devotion to Hashem.
Tefillos for Life - Your Relationship with Hashem.
[42:2] YEARNING. – כְּאַיָּל תַּעֲרֹג עַל אֲפִיקֵי מָיִם כֵּן נַפְשִׁי תַעֲרֹג אֵלֶיךָ אֱלֹקִים – “As the deer cries out for springs of water, so my soul cries out for You, O G-d.” Visualize the life-giving flow of fresh water to enhance your spiritual experience of bonding with Hashem.
[42:3] – צָמְאָה נַפְשִׁי לֵאלֹקִים לְאֵ־ל חָי – “My soul thirsts for G-d, for the living G-d.
Tefillos for Life - Your Anguish.
[42:4] TEARS. – הָיְתָה לִּי דִמְעָתִי לֶחֶם יוֹמָם וָלָיְלָה – My tears have been [my] bread, day and by night.” Ask Hashem to let the bitter experience of being taunted by wicked people serve as a penance for your sins.
[42:8] – כָּל מִשְׁבָּרֶיךָ וְגַלֶּיךָ עָלַי עָבָרוּ – “All Your breakers and Your waves have swept over me.
Lessons for Life - Your Attitude.
[42:5] PAINFUL MEMORY. – כִּי אֶעֱבֹר בַּסָּךְ אֶדַּדֵּם עַד בֵּית אֱלֹקִים – “how I used to pass along in the [stately] throng, proceeding slowly to the House of G-d.” Develop your yearning for the Geulah by visualizing the spectacle of the orderly procession through the gates of Yerushalayim in ancient times.
[42:6] COMFORT. – מַה תִּשְׁתּוֹחֲחִי נַפְשִׁי וַתֶּהֱמִי עָלָי הוֹחִילִי לֵאלֹקִים – “Why are you downcast, my soul, and confused within me? Wait and look to G-d!” Work on yourself to restore your optimism and have faith that the Geulah will surely come.
Sources
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this mizmor are listed below.
א - רש"י, המאירי, בן־רמוך, ספורנו, אבן יחייא, מצודות
ב - רד"ק, בן־רמוך, רשר"ה
ג - רש"י, רד"ק, נר לרגלי, מאיר טוב
ד - רש"י, רד"ק, בן־רמוך, באר אברהם, רשר"ה, מאיר טוב
ה - רש"י, המאירי, אבן יחייא, מאיר טוב
ו - רש"י, רד"ק ,המאירי, אבן יחייא, מצודות, נר לרגלי
ז - רד"ק, מצודות
ח - רש"י, רד"ק , בן־רמוך, אבן יחייא
ט - רד"ק
י - רש"י, אבן עזרא, ספורנו
יא - אבן עזרא, רד"ק, בן־רמוך, רשר"ה
יב - אבן עזרא, רד"ק, בן־רמוך