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 119-021 (Gimel 5) – Hypocrisy
Unfortunately there are people who choose to deliberately violate some aspects of Hashem’s mitzvos for their own convenience and comfort. As bad as that is, they aggravate the effect of their behavior by making a pretense of being fully observant. They do this by publicly distorting the meaning of the mitzvos so that they can claim to be in full compliance.
The hypocrisy of such people has a tragic effect on weak-minded individuals who are ready to accept a spurious interpretation of the halachah. For this reason, David condemns the hypocrites as being accursed ( אֲרוּרִים ). The effect of their hypocrisy can be far-reaching and David calls attention to it so that others will be forewarned and will guard themselves against the danger of being corrupted
Exploring the Mizmor
(כא) גָּעַרְתָּ זֵדִים אֲרוּרִים הַשֹּׁגִים מִמִּצְוֹתֶיךָ:
You have rejected the accursed deliberate sinners who deviate from [the intent of] Your mitzvos.
In this pasuk David calls down Hashem’s rebuke upon the hypocrites who distort His Torah for their own ends. In effect, he warns his listeners to avoid falling into the trap of intentional distortions in the law.
Learning the Mizmor
(כא) גָּעַרְתָּ זֵדִים אֲרוּרִים
You have rejected — גָּעַרְתָּ the accursed deliberate sinners — זֵדִים אֲרוּרִים who consciously deviate — הַשֹּׁגִים from the intent of Your mitzvos — מִמִּצְוֹתֶיךָ because of an erroneous interpretation of what Hashem has declared.
A series of interpretations illuminating this pasuk are presented here. The numbers identifying the interpretations refer to the listing of sources below.
(1) The word הַשֹּׁגִים refers to a deviation from the right path based on an erroneous interpretation of what that path really is. It is based on the root שגה and differs from words based on the root שגג that imply an error through carelessness. The deliberate sinners justify their sins using an erroneous interpretation of Hashem’s will. As bad as their sins are, they are not as pernicious as the erroneous interpretation that they use to justify it. That is why David calls them אֲרוּרִים .
(2) Another way of understanding this pasuk is that it refers people to who deliberately neglect the study of the halachah because they don’t want to put in the effort that it requires. As a result of that conscious neglect they fail to perform the mitzvos properly. This failure cannot be ascribed to innocent error because it is owed to their deliberate failure in learning the Torah as they should.
The primary sources used for the additional insights illuminating this pasuk are listed below.
(1) – רשר”ה
(2) – רד”ק, מצודות