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Mizmor 095 (The Return of Joy)
(א) לְכוּ נְרַנְּנָה לַה’ נָרִיעָה לְצוּר יִשְׁעֵנוּ:
(1) Come! Let us sing joyously to Hashem; let us cry out to the Rock of our yeshuah.
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev. 1]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 095 (The Return of Joy)
This is the sixth in the series of 11 mizmorim that were originally composed by Moshe Rabbeinu and subsequently incorporated into Tehilim by David. Like the previous mizmorim, this mizmor is addressed to a generation in Galus, such as our own. However, the mizmor diverts us from the sad thoughts of suffering in exile by portraying our present experience as a second journey through the Midbar, to which we ourselves can put an end at any time through our own efforts at observing the Torah and mitzvos.
The mizmor is presented in three parts. In the first two parts the singer reminds his listeners that they are now entering a time in which there is an opportunity for joy in the service of their Creator. He calls upon them to join him in joyful song and devotion. He ends this call with an unfinished sentence, suggesting that if they would only obey Hashem the Geluah could come this very day: Even today, if only we would heed His call ….
In the last part we hear the voice of Hashem reminding the people that their present situation is a reflection of the mistakes made by their ancestors in the Midbar.
Those mistakes carried consequences for that generation, and tragically it appears that our mistakes are following the patterns of the past. But the mizmor idraws comfort from the fact that Hashem has not given up on us. He continues to direct His attention to us, looking for us to change our ways. It is an indication that we have a renewed opportunity to bring the Geulah.
Exploring the Mizmor
PART 1. INVITATION TO JOY. The mizmor begins with an energetic appeal by the singer for his listeners to overcome their depressed mood and regain their exuberance through contemplating the greatness and goodness of Hashem. He distinguishes between the thinking of Yisrael and that of the rest of the world. We will always have a special relationship and appreciation for Him, based on the historical reality of our Redemption from Mitzrayim. However, we share with the rest of the world an appreciation of His unlimited power, as the Creator and Master of the heavens and the natural forces of our world.
(א) לְכוּ נְרַנְּנָה לַה’ נָרִיעָה לְצוּר יִשְׁעֵנוּ: (ב) נְקַדְּמָה פָנָיו בְּתוֹדָה בִּזְמִרוֹת נָרִיעַ לוֹ: (ג) כִּי אֵל גָּדוֹל ה’ וּמֶלֶךְ גָּדוֹל עַל־כָּל־אֱלֹקים: (ד) אֲשֶׁר בְּיָדוֹ מֶחְקְרֵי־אָרֶץ וְתוֹעֲפוֹת הָרִים לוֹ: (ה) אֲשֶׁר־לוֹ הַיָּם וְהוּא עָשָׂהוּ וְיַבֶּשֶׁת יָדָיו יָצָרוּ:
(1) Come! Let us sing joyously to Hashem; let us cry out to the Rock of our yeshuah. (2) Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving. Let us cry out to Him, with songs of praise. (3) For Hashem is the power of infinite greatness, above all heavenly powers. (4) For under His control are the depths of the earth and the mountain peaks are His. (5) For His is the sea and He perfected it, and His hands formed the dry land.
PART 2. CALL FOR DEVOTION. After restoring the positive mood of his listeners, the singer calls upon them to show their devotion and gratitude to Hashem by their acts. He says, it is not too late. The Geulah can come today if we would only heed His call.
(ו) בֹּאוּ נִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה וְנִכְרָעָה נִבְרְכָה לִפְנֵי־ה’ עֹשֵׂנוּ: (ז) כִּי הוּא אֱלֹקֵינוּ וַאֲנַחְנוּ עַם מַרְעִיתוֹ וְצֹאן יָדוֹ הַיּוֹם אִם־בְּקֹלוֹ תִשְׁמָעוּ:
(6) Come! Let us prostrate ourselves and bow; let us kneel before G-d, our Maker. (7) For He is our G-d and we are the nation that He tends [like a shepherd tends his sheep] and we are the flock of His charge. Even today, if only we would heed His call …
PART 3. LESSON OF THE PAST. We now hear the voice of Hashem reminding us that our present problems are the result of sinful behavior. Our forefathers in the Wilderness made this mistake and the entire generation was denied entry into the Land of Yisrael. But it is not too late. Even today, if only we would heed His call …
(ח) אַל־תַּקְשׁוּ לְבַבְכֶם כִּמְרִיבָה כְּיוֹם מַסָּה בַּמִּדְבָּר: (ט) אֲשֶׁר נִסּוּנִי אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם בְּחָנוּנִי גַּם־רָאוּ פָעֳלִי: (י) אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה אָקוּט בְּדוֹר וָאֹמַר עַם תֹּעֵי לֵבָב הֵם וְהֵם לֹא־יָדְעוּ דְרָכָי: (יא) אֲשֶׁר־נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי בְאַפִּי אִם־יְבֹאוּן אֶל־מְנוּחָתִי:
(8) [The voice of Hashem:] Do not harden your heart as at Merivah, as on the day of Massah in the Wilderness, (9) when Your ancestors put Me to the test; they tried Me, though they had seen what I did. (10) For forty years I quarreled with the generation [of the Midbar]; I said, “They are people of a straying heart.” But they still did not recognize My ways. (11) So I swore in My wrath that they would not enter My Land of contentment.
Learning the Mizmor
(א) לְכוּ נְרַנְּנָה לַה‘ 
נָרִיעָה לְצוּר יִשְׁעֵנוּ:
Come! Even though we are still in Galus, put aside your sad thoughts! Let us sing joyously to Hashem — לְכוּ נְרַנְּנָה לַה’ , let us cry out with devotion to the Rock of our yeshuah — נָרִיעָה לְצוּר יִשְׁעֵנוּ for we are confident that He will save us from this Galus and the Geulah will be rock-solid.
(ב) נְקַדְּמָה פָנָיו בְּתוֹדָה 
בִּזְמִרוֹת נָרִיעַ לוֹ:
Let us focus our hearts and minds to come into His presence with spoken words of thanksgiving — נְקַדְּמָה פָנָיו בְּתוֹדָה , thanking Him for the specific kindnesses and wonders that we have experienced, and that in spite of our physical suffering in Galus, we are blessed with the spiritual treasures of the Torah and mitzvos. Let us cry out to Him, with songs of praise — בִּזְמִרוֹת נָרִיעַ לוֹ .
(ג) כִּי אֵ־ל גָּדוֹל ה‘ 
וּמֶלֶךְ גָּדוֹל עַל כָּל אֱלֹהִים:
Our appreciation of Hashem is especially based on the historical experience of our people and the wonders He did for us. But to the world at large Hashem continues to be the heavenly Power of infinite greatness — כִּי אֵ־ל גָּדוֹל ה’ , and in the world in which we live He is seen as a King of infinite greatness, above all heavenly powers in his management of nature — וּמֶלֶךְ גָּדוֹל עַל־כָּל־אֱלֹהִים .
(ד) אֲשֶׁר בְּיָדוֹ מֶחְקְרֵי אָרֶץ 
וְתוֹעֲפוֹת הָרִים לוֹ:
For under His control are the mysterious depths of the earth — אֲשֶׁר בְּיָדוֹ מֶחְקְרֵי־אָרֶץ , and the lofty mountain peaks are His — וְתוֹעֲפוֹת הָרִים לוֹ Mankind at large does not realize that Hashem is a Judge and the fate of the world reflects their own behavior.
(ה) אֲשֶׁר לוֹ הַיָּם וְהוּא עָשָׂהוּ 
וְיַבֶּשֶׁת יָדָיו יָצָרוּ:
For His is the sea and He perfected it — אֲשֶׁר־לוֹ הַיָּם וְהוּא עָשָׂהוּ causing the waters to gather in one place, leaving dry land elsewhere, and His hands formed the dry land — וְיַבֶּשֶׁת יָדָיו יָצָרוּ He did all this to permit the flourishing of mankind in His image, which was made possible by fostering life on land.
(ו) בֹּאוּ נִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה וְנִכְרָעָה 
נִבְרְכָה לִפְנֵי ה‘ עֹשֵׂנוּ:
After the final Redemption, one Jew will say to the other: Come! — בֹּאוּ Because He is the King, let us all unite in in perfect devotion to Him, accepting His authority over us. Without denying His authority over the universe, we recognize His special authority over us because He has enabled our existence as a nation. In every situation, no matter what we are busy with, let us serve Him. Let us prostrate ourselves and bow — נִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה וְנִכְרָעָה , let us kneel before G-d, our Maker — נִבְרְכָה לִפְנֵי־ה’ עֹשֵׂנוּ .
(ז) כִּי הוּא אֱלֹקֵינוּ
For — כִּי the other nations only know Him as the One Power in control of nature, whereas Yisrael knows Him first and foremost through His special care and guidance. He is our G-d — הוּא אֱלֹקֵינוּ , Who judges us against His high expectations, for He does not allow us to do whatever comes to mind.
וַאֲנַחְנוּ עַם מַרְעִיתוֹ וְצֹאן יָדוֹ
We are the nation He tends like His sheep  וַאֲנַחְנוּ עַם מַרְעִיתוֹ , and so He monitors our daily behavior. We are the flock in His charge — וְצֹאן יָדוֹ which He guides by the movement of His Divine hand rather than by the rod. All of this obligates to continually maintain high moral and ethical standards that are acceptable in His eyes.
הַיּוֹם אִם בְּקֹלוֹ תִשְׁמָעוּ:
We would enjoy this relationship even today, if only we would heed His call — הַיּוֹם אִם־בְּקֹלוֹ תִשְׁמָעוּ Obedience is the only condition necessary for Redemption.
(ח) אַל תַּקְשׁוּ לְבַבְכֶם כִּמְרִיבָה 
כְּיוֹם מַסָּה בַּמִּדְבָּר:
The voice of Hashem, speaking tro Yisrael: My expectation of you is greater than it is of the other nations who did not experience My special attention and My special wonders. As for you, do not harden your heart as you did at Merivah — אַל־תַּקְשׁוּ לְבַבְכֶם כִּמְרִיבָה when You tested Me by complaining about the lack of waterand as on the day of testing when You challenged Me in the Midbar — כְּיוֹם מַסָּה בַּמִּדְבָּר ; …
(ט) אֲשֶׁר נִסּוּנִי אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם 
בְּחָנוּנִי גַּם רָאוּ פָעֳלִי:
when Your ancestors put Me to the test — אֲשֶׁר נִסּוּנִי אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם to see whether I could produce water for them. They repeatedly challenged Me, though they had seen what I did in Mitzrayim — בְּחָנוּנִי גַּם־רָאוּ פָעֳלִי . I have no reason to believe that your teshuvah now will be any more resolute than on the previous occasions when I have forgiven you.
(י) אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה אָקוּט בְּדוֹר 
וָאֹמַר עַם תֹּעֵי לֵבָב הֵם 
וְהֵם לֹא יָדְעוּ דְרָכָי:
For forty years I contended with the generation of the Midbar — אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה אָקוּט בְּדוֹר ; I said, “They are people of a straying heart — וָאֹמַר עַם תֹּעֵי לֵבָב הֵם so I hoped they would let themselves be cured of their error and recognize the truth. But they still did not come to recognize My ways — וְהֵם לֹא־יָדְעוּ דְרָכָי They ignored all the miracles I performed for them did not trust Me. They were afraid to enter the land of Yisrael “
(יא) אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי בְאַפִּי 
אִם יְבֹאוּן אֶל מְנוּחָתִי:
So that My displeasure grew and I swore in My wrath:,— אֲשֶׁר־נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי בְאַפִּי that they would not be permitted to enter My land of contentment — אִם־יְבֹאוּן אֶל־מְנוּחָתִי . My people, don’t delay the Redemption any further by repeating the mistake of your forefathers.
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses in this mizmor are listed below.
א – אבן עזרא, ספורנו, רשר”ה
ב – רד”ק, מלבי”ם, אלשיך, דעת סופרים
ג – מלבי”ם, רשר”ה
ד – רש”י, מצודות, מלבי”ם, רשר”ה
ה – רד”ק, המאירי, ספורנו
ו – אבן עזרא, רד”ק , מלבי”ם, רשר”ה, נר לרגלי
ז – רש”י, מצודות, מלבי”ם, בן־רמוך, רשר”ה, נר לרגלי
ח – אבן עזרא, מלבי”ם
ט – רד”ק, מצודות, אלשיך, נר לרגלי
י – רד”ק, אלשיך, רשר”ה
יא – רש”י, רד”ק, ספורנו, רשר”ה