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Key Concepts of Mizmor 119-023 (Gimel 7) – Detachment
As the king of a great nation David lived a complicated life with many worries and distractions. Despite everything he learned to free his mind from his concerns so that he could immerse himself in learning the Torah.
Among the distractions that he faced were criticisms and attacks by important people of his day, including the aristocracy of other nations and even members of his own extended family. Some of these critics prided themselves on their nobility and occupied themselves with pastimes and pleasures. They lived what they thought of as the good life and mocked David for his commitment to a demanding way of life. They frequently met together to plot against David’s rule, threatening the stability of his kingdom.
In order to make himself indifferent to the disturbing accusations and arguments of the aristocrats David found it necessary to withdraw from time to time into a state of detachment in which he could more easily disregard anything that did not contribute to strengthening his bond with Hashem. In this state he was able to immerse himself in the wisdom of the Torah and mitzvos.
Exploring the Mizmor
(כג) גַּם יָשְׁבוּ שָׂרִים בִּי נִדְבָּרוּ עַבְדְּךָ יָשִׂיחַ בְּחֻקֶּיךָ:
Though aristocrats sit together and speak against me, Your servant meditates upon Your decrees.
In his tefillah to Hashem, David bewails the challenging situation in which he finds himself. The aristocrats, who are a constant source of trouble, continue to meet and speak against him. Despite everything David has managed to immerse his mind in the Torah, even the decrees for which the reasoning is not apparent. The aristocrats have questioned David’s spending his time on something so difficult, but David sees himself as Hashem’s devoted servant and so is confident that their arguments have no basis.
Learning the Mizmor
(כג) גַּם יָשְׁבוּ שָׂרִים בִּי נִדְבָּרוּ
עַבְדְּךָ יָשִׂיחַ בְּחֻקֶּיךָ:
Though the aristocrats continue to sit together and speak against me — גַּם יָשְׁבוּ שָׂרִים בִּי נִדְבָּרוּ , Your servant is indifferent to them and meditates upon Your statutes — עַבְדְּךָ יָשִׂיחַ בְּחֻקֶּיךָ .
A series of interpretations illuminating this pasuk are presented here. The numbers identifying the interpretations refer to the listing of sources below.
(1) The aristocrats ridiculed David for his devotion to the Torah. (rashi)
(2) Alternately, the aristocrats ridiculed the decrees of the Torah since they couldn’t understand the rationale. (Malbim).
(3) Some aristocrats take pride in their intellectual achievements, which put them above the lower classes. But this didn’t stop them from ridiculing David’s immersing himself in the intellectual exploration of Torah concepts. (Ben Ramoch) .
The primary sources used for the additional insights illuminating this pasuk are listed below.
(1) – רש”י
(2) – מלבי”ם
(3) – בן רמוך