NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev 0]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 019-010 (Beis 2)
Having introduced us to the young man who is concerned about doing the right thing (Beis 1), David now recalls his own experience in the complex world of mitzvos. David immediately focuses on the most important point: The purpose of doing mitzvos is to serve Hashem and to be close to Him.
This means that despite the challenge presented by what may seem to be a bewildering complexity, the dominant thought in doing mitzvos must be a feeling of devotion to Hashem. Every mitzvah that a person does should actively be perceived as an act requested by Hashem. The person doing the mitzvah is consciously aware that he depends on Hashem’s help to successfully complete the task in which he happens to be engaged. As a servant of Hashem he knows that it is only through his devotion to Hashem that he has a hope of doing what Hashem expects of him.
Exploring the Mizmor
David addresses Hashem directly in a tefillah that recalls the human experience of devotion in doing mitzvos. In the tefillah David effectively acknowledges that no man can be sure of doing everything that Hashem expects of him. The best he can do is throw himself at Hashem’s mercy, declaring his devotion and his plea to know Hashem’s wishes.
(י) בְּכָל לִבִּי דְרַשְׁתִּיךָ אַל תַּשְׁגֵּנִי מִמִּצְוֹתֶיךָ:
I have searched for You with all my heart, do not let me go astray from Your mitzvos.
David’s tefillah describes his sincere quest to do what is right. He has searched for the presence of Hashem in his own heart and he asks Hashem not to let him go astray from what Hashem wants him to be doing. The wisdom and physical ability that David needs to perform mitzvos correctly are granted to him by Hashem. Therefore, it is only Hashem Who can be counted upon to cause the mitzvos to be executed properly.
Learning the Mizmor
(י) בְּכָל לִבִּי דְרַשְׁתִּיךָ
אַל תַּשְׁגֵּנִי מִמִּצְוֹתֶיךָ:
אַל תַּשְׁגֵּנִי מִמִּצְוֹתֶיךָ:
With all my heart — בְּכָל לִבִּי I have searched for You — דְרַשְׁתִּיךָ in my heart and in Your Torah. Do not let me get distracted by the pressures of life to go astray from correctly observing all Your mitzvos — אַל תַּשְׁגֵּנִי מִמִּצְוֹתֶיךָ .
Three insights illuminating this pasuk are presented below. The numbers identifying the insights refer to the listing of sources at the end of the segment.
(1) David devotes his entire heart to his quest, meaning that his entire purpose in learning the Torah is to fulfill the mitzvos and the entire purpose in doing the mitzvos is to serve Hashem.
(2) David asks Hashem for the wisdom and insight to understand the meaning of the mitzvos.
(3) In searching and studying the meaning of mitzvos, David sees the risk of misinterpreting the requirements of a mitzvah based on an erroneous understanding of its meaning. He asks Hashem to keep him from such an error.
(4) David is devoting his whole heart in searching for the true meaning and method of mitzvos. He search for meaning is not motivated by any other agenda, such as finding opportunity to minimize the requirements of the mitzvos.
(5) David asks that Hashem preserve him from circumstances (such as extreme wealth or extreme poverty) which may distract him from his full devotion in performing mitzvos.
The primary sources used for the additional insights illuminating this pasuk are listed below.
(1) – רד”ק
(2) – מצודות
(3) – מלבים
(4) – אלשיך
(5) – בן רמוך