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Mizmor 119-041 (Vav) – Linkages
NOTE: The PDF version of this article will be made available at a later date. [Rev 7]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 119-041 (Vav) – Linkages
In the Vav series of pesukim David calls upon Hashem to implement the linkages inherent in the Torah and in Creation. The linkages demonstrate the wholeness and the unity that Hashem implemented in the process of creating our world. All components of Creation are designed to work with each other in carrying out the will of the Creator, Who is One. The letter vav symbolizes the linkages and so it is used used as a conjunction (“and”) that connects words with each other.
As with every other segment of this mizmor, David composed the Vav segment with a full complement of eight pesukim. However, he paired the last two of these (119:47 and 119:48) through the use of similar expressions. In this way he was teaching the importance of mitzvah observance, not only by physically performing them but by learning and understanding what one is doing.
Vav 1: Kindness and Truth
(מא) וִיבֹאֻנִי חֲסָדֶךָ ה‘ תְּשׁוּעָתְךָ כְּאִמְרָתֶךָ:
May Your kindnesses come upon me, O Hashem, Your yeshuah in accordance with Your word.
David begins by drawing upon the concept of kindness ( חֶסֶד ), because the existence of the world is in itself an act of loving kindness brought to mankind by the Creator. The concept of kindness is implemented by the many ways in which Hashem has applied His love throughout history and throughout His Creation. David refers to the infinite multiplicity of kindnesses because he sees everything that happens to him as a fulfillment of Hashem’s kindness.
There is a necessary relationship between kindness and truth (the word of Hashem). Each act of Hashem’s kindness is linked to the concept of universal truth because it contributes to the fulfillment of Hashem’s truth. This was the promise that He made in establishing Creation. It is through that truth that David was able to count upon his own personal redemption from sin and it is through that truth that David’s descendants are able to count upon Redemption in the future Geulah.
Vav 2: Truth and Self-Confidence
(מב) וְאֶעֱנֶה חֹרְפִי דָבָר כִּי בָטַחְתִּי בִּדְבָרֶךָ:
Then I will [be able to] answer the one who vilifies me, for I have trusted in Your word.
After having fervently asked for Hashem’s yeshuah, David now strengthens his plea by declaring how much it will mean to him to experience a direct demonstration of Hashem’s favor. David’s faith in himself as a servant of Hashem depends upon being convinced that he is doing what he knows to be right. That conviction is being insidiously challenged by David’s misfortunes and by the vilification of his enemies. But now with Hashem’s demonstration of favor David is confident that he will be able to resist any weakening of his faith in himself and his trust in the truth of Hashem’s promise.
This pasuk confirms the linkage between a person’s faith in himself as a man of emunah and his ability to trust in Hashem.
Vav 3: Truth and Torah
(מג) וְאַל תַּצֵּל מִפִּי דְבַר אֱמֶת עַד מְאֹד כִּי לְמִשְׁפָּטֶךָ יִחָלְתִּי:
Do not remove from my mouth the word of utmost truth, for I have aspired to [know] Your Mishpatim.
David recognized the Torah as the vehicle of perfect truth. Through his intense dedication to learning Torah he yearned to come as close as humanly possible to grasping that perfection and teach it to others. Thus, he earnestly prayed to Hashem to help him reach that goal and experience it throughout his life. Thus, he asked Hashem to preserve his link with the perfection of Torah and not to remove any part of that truth from his mouth.
Vav 4: Torah and Memory
(מד) וְאֶשְׁמְרָה תוֹרָתְךָ תָמִיד לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד:
I will take care of Your Torah constantly, forever and ever.
The mitzvah of learning Torah involves creating a body of knowledge in the mind. It is not sufficient to put that knowledge into short-term memory such as one might do if he hears a speaker or lecturer. He has to actively study what he is learning so that it forms part of his long-term memory. He has to be able to draw on that memory to guide his future actions and to teach others. To ensure that his newly acquired knowledge remains with him throughout his life he needs to review it constantly. Otherwise it is bound to slowly slip away. As he reviews each element of his knowledge he will gain new insight into how it fits in with everything else he knows. This will help him reinforce the permanence of his Torah knowledge.
One aspect of this is implied by the act of שְׁמִירָה , that is, guarding or taking care of the Torah that he has learned. David commits himself to constant שְׁמִירָה , throughout his life. His sees his life as extending through his existence in this world and even beyond in the world to come ( לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד )
Vav 5: Torah and Discovery
(מה) וְאֶתְהַלְּכָה בָרְחָבָה כִּי פִקֻּדֶיךָ דָרָשְׁתִּי:
I will walk in broad pathways, for I have sought Your Pikudim.
The Pikudim which David introduced in the fourth pasuk of the Aleph Segment, are mitzvos that we are called upon to perform through meditation and concentrated thought. This involves reviewing and exploring previously known elements of Torah knowledge to create new insights and new understanding. Even when an insight is new and fresh, it is gratifying and rewarding because it fits smoothly within the framework of past insights that were discovered by the great minds of previous generations.
Thus, the activity of learning Torah is a journey of discovery into the world of thought. It is an extremely gratifying journey because each new insight is an unexpected and surprising link from the Torah thoughts of the past. The pleasure of discovering such a link is perceived as a value added confirmation of everything a person has learned.
Vav 6: Hashem and Yisrael
(מו) וַאֲדַבְּרָה בְעֵדֹתֶיךָ נֶגֶד מְלָכִים וְלֹא אֵבוֹשׁ:
I will speak of Your Eidos before kings, and I will not be ashamed.
The Eidos which David introduced in the second pasuk of the Aleph Segment, are mitzvos that focus on the historical aspects of Hashem’s relationship with his people. These mitzvos are called the Testimonies because they provide a living reminder of Hashem’s commitment to His people and their commitment to Him.
In contrast to other nations, the entire existence of Yisrael is defined by its relationship with Hashem, the One Creator of all existence. David realized how essential it was that in dealing with other nations he had to confidently speak of the eternal bond that makes the existenence of Yisrael possible. He knew that if he lacked total faith in the validity of that bond, if he spoke of that bond apologetically or with embarrassment he would be failing his duty to his people and their G-d.
Vav 7: Learning and Doing
(מז) וְאֶשְׁתַּעֲשַׁע בְּמִצְוֹתֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר אָהָבְתִּי:
I will delight in Your mitzvos, which I love,
(מח) וְאֶשָּׂא כַפַּי אֶל מִצְוֹתֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר אָהָבְתִּי וְאָשִׂיחָה בְחֻקֶּיךָ:
and I will lift my hands [to perform] Your mitzvos, which I love; and I will study Your chukim.
Man was put on this earth to engage in meaningful activity. Only when he engages in such activity can he expect to find the gratification that is essential for happiness. The highest form of worthy activity is that which is defined by the mitzvos of the Torah – learning them, understanding them and doing them.
Although the Jew performs mitzvos as a matter of obedience to the command of Hashem, mitzvah observance can be deeply gratifying. David found intense and continued pleasure in being occupied with all aspects of mitzvah fulfillment. He was drawn to the mitzvos because of his love for them, a love that was predicated on the knowledge that the mitzvos are the direct expression of Hashem’s will, the very purpose of existence.
David paired the last two pesukim of the Vav segment to express the direct linkage between learning and doing. He was teaching us that it is not enough to perform the mitzvos, one must gain a deep and intimate knowledge of them to the best of his ability, and it is not enough to learn every aspect of the mitzvos, one most perform them conscientiously, while thinking of their meaning.
Learning the Vav Segment
Vav 1: Kindness and Truth
(מא) וִיבֹאֻנִי חֲסָדֶךָ ה‘
תְּשׁוּעָתְךָ  כְּאִמְרָתֶךָ:
May Your kindnesses come upon me, O Hashem — וִיבֹאֻנִי חֲסָדֶךָ ה‘ may Your yeshuah — תְּשׁוּעָתְךָ come upon me in accordance with Your word as You have promised to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov  כְּאִמְרָתֶךָ .
Additional Insights:
(1) The word חֲסָדֶךָ (Your kindnesses) is a plural form without the plural spelling (which would be חֲסָדֶיךָ ). This shows us that all the varied forms Hashem’s ways may take are actually expressions of the one universal Divine kindness. (רשר"ה)
(2) Because the world is founded upon the principle of kindness ( חֲסָדֶךָ ), there is a possibility of forgiveness in Creation even after man has sinned. So David understood that the word of Hashem ( כְּאִמְרָתֶךָ ), also implements forgiveness. Hashem made a commitment of yeshuah to our forefathers ( תְּשׁוּעָתְךָ ). That commitment is an expression of His truth and so it can be relied upon. But it could only be implemented through the kindness of forgiveness. ( מלבים ).
(3) David described kindness and yeshuah as belonging to Hashem (Your kindness and Your Yeshuah) just as the commitment belongs to him (Your word). This signifies that Hashem shares the experience of kindness and Yeshuah with us. When we are in Galus (Exile), He feels Himself to be in Exile with us. And so when we ask for Redemption we are not only asking for ourselves but for Him. ( טיב התהלות )
Vav 2: Truth and Self-Confidence
(מב) וְאֶעֱנֶה חֹרְפִי דָבָר 
כִּי בָטַחְתִּי בִּדְבָרֶךָ:
Hashem, when Your goodwill to me is publicly demonstrated, my self-confidence in showing my devotion to You will be strengthened. For I will then be able to answer  וְאֶעֱנֶה the one who vilifies me  חֹרְפִי דָבָר and refute his hurtful arguments. In this way You will have vindicated my ongoing commitment to You, for I have always trusted in Your word  כִּי בָטַחְתִּי בִּדְבָרֶךָ .
Additional Insights:
(1) David said the forthcoming yeshuah will demonstrate that even the vilification by his enemies was part of Hashem’s plan. It will be clear that David’s devotion was strengthened by this process. This will serve as an encouragement for any one who is suffering from the disrespect of uncouth people. That disrespect is Hashem’s doing and will ultimately strengthen you. ( טיב התהלות )
(2) David was saying that those who criticize for him for devoting his time to spiritual matters and for having trusted in Hashem will be shown how wrong they are. ( נר לרגלי )
Vav 3: Torah and Truth
(מג) וְאַל תַּצֵּל מִפִּי דְבַר אֱמֶת עַד מְאֹד 
כִּי לְמִשְׁפָּטֶךָ יִחָלְתִּי:
Keep me from speaking untruth — only words that are within the framework of Torah. Do not remove the Torah from my mouth — וְאַל תַּצֵּל מִפִּי , for the Torah word is the word of utmost truth,  דְבַר אֱמֶת עַד מְאֹד I ask this because I have always aspired to understand the truth of Your Mishpatim  כִּי לְמִשְׁפָּטֶךָ יִחָלְתִּי That has ever been my dream. Don’t take that away from me!
Additional Insights:
(1) The word מִשְׁפָּטֶךָ (Your Mishpatim) is a plural form without the plural spelling (which would be מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ ). This shows us that all the varied forms that the Torah’s teachings may take are actually expressions of the one and only Torah truth, similar to חֲסָדֶךָ (Your kindnesses) in the Vav 1 pasuk above. (רשר"ה)
(2) In speaking of his attachment to Torah truth, David was especially referring to his judicial and leadership responsibility of issueing Torah rulings. He prayed that Hashem would not let him err. ( רש"י )
Vav 4: Torah and Mindfulness
(מד) וְאֶשְׁמְרָה תוֹרָתְךָ 
תָמִיד לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד:
I will actively take care of Your Torah  וְאֶשְׁמְרָה תוֹרָתְךָ and act to preserve it in my mind. I will do so constantly  תָמִיד under all conditions in this life, and forever and ever  לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד in the World to Come.
Additional Insights:
(1) With the word וְאֶשְׁמְרָה , David was also committing himself to fully implement in practice the Torah’s teachings and all of the specific mitzvos in every detail. ( דעת סופרים )
(2). In Mishlei (6:22) Shlomo HaMelech also spoke about how a person’s Torah is preserved for him to access in the world to Come: “When you are going [in this world], [the Torah’s wisdom] will guide you; when you lie down, it will watch over you; and when you are awake it will interact with you.” ( ספורנו ) (See Mishlei Segment 6:05)
Vav 5: Torah and Discovery
(מה) וְאֶתְהַלְּכָה בָרְחָבָה 
כִּי פִקֻּדֶיךָ דָרָשְׁתִּי:
I will walk in the broad pathways  וְאֶתְהַלְּכָה בָרְחָבָה of gratifying discoveries, for I have patiently searched through my knowledge of Your Torah to find Your Pikudim  כִּי פִקֻּדֶיךָ דָרָשְׁתִּי .
Additional Insights:
(1) David said that he is constantly searching through the existing Pikudim for new insights. He counts on Hashem’s help to find gratifying and unexpected thoughts and perspectives with each exciting mental journey. (רד"ק)
(2) As David continues his search he trusts that just as Hashem has performed great wonders for his forefathers, He will perform new wonders of thought and deed that are uniquely tailored to give meaning to David’s own life. ( מלבי"ם )
(3) David trusts that the intellectual discoveries he makes will fit naturally and smoothly into his previous framework of ideas. They will not be perceived as forced, ill-fitting solutions. ( ספורנו )
(4) David trusts that when he discovers the solution to a halachic question he will find that it fits perfectly to the circumstances and he will not need to depend on artificial stringencies to compensate for his lack of knowledge. ( נר לרגלי )
(5) David intends to conduct his search for new Torah insights along paths that have been previously walked by the great minds of the past. In this way he can be confident of avoiding radical breaks with the true Torah tradition that has been passed down through the ages. ( טיב התהילות )
Vav 6: Hashem and Yisrael
(מו) וַאֲדַבְּרָה בְעֵדֹתֶיךָ נֶגֶד מְלָכִים 
וְלֹא אֵבוֹשׁ:
I will speak confidently of Your Eidos (Testimonies)  וַאֲדַבְּרָה בְעֵדֹתֶיךָ even before kings  נֶגֶד מְלָכִים and other powerful people, and I will not be ashamed or embarrassed  וְלֹא אֵבוֹשׁ because I will be speaking only what I know to be true.
Additional Insights:
(1) David was confident that if other kings challenged his statements to them he would be able to reply effectively. His confidence was based on being convinced that whatever he said was the truth. And since he knew he would successfully defend himself in any argument, there was no reason for him to fear embarrassment or shame. (רד"ק)
(2) Someone who speaks about his own ideas needs to fear that they will be proved wrong and that he will be embarrassed. But David spoke of the proven Testimonies of Hashem and had no fear of embarrassment. (המאירי)
(3) David knew that he would not be embarrassed in speaking about the Testimonies because the survival of Yisrael as a nation in spite of its numerous enemies was a clear support of what he had to say. (נר לרגלי)
(4) David was not embarrassed to speak to powerful kings because he knew that he was in Hashem’s favor, after having been forgiven for his sins. (מלבי"ם)
Vav 7: Learning and Doing
(מז) וְאֶשְׁתַּעֲשַׁע בְּמִצְוֹתֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר אָהָבְתִּי:
I will find my delight  וְאֶשְׁתַּעֲשַׁע by being totally engaged in Your mitzvos  בְּמִצְוֹתֶיךָ , all of which I love  אֲשֶׁר אָהָבְתִּי .
(מח) וְאֶשָּׂא כַפַּי אֶל מִצְוֹתֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר אָהָבְתִּי 
וְאָשִׂיחָה בְחֻקֶּיךָ:
and I will lift my hands  וְאֶשָּׂא כַפַּי to perform Your mitzvos  אֶל מִצְוֹתֶיךָ , which I love  אֲשֶׁר אָהָבְתִּי ; and I will immerse myself in the study of Your chukim  וְאָשִׂיחָה בְחֻקֶּיךָ to gain as much knowledge of their meaning as I can. :
Additional Insights:
(1) David loved the mitzvos so much that even when alone he knew of no activity that gave him as much gratification. This is implied by the reflexive form of the word וְאֶשְׁתַּעֲשַׁע , “I will find delight.” (רד"ק)
(2) The word וְאֶשְׁתַּעֲשַׁע also suggests that David found the mitzvos so fascinating that he occupied himseld with learning and doing them at every available moment, all because of his love for them. ( מצודות )
(3) The pleasure that David found in the mitzvos ( וְאֶשְׁתַּעֲשַׁע ) was especially enhanced whenever he discovered new insight into their meaning. That is why he continued to search for meaning, even in the chukim, for which the meaning is hidden. ( ספורנו )
(4) David emphasizes his love for the mitzvos in both pesukim of this segment ( אֲשֶׁר אָהָבְתִּי ) because that helps us understand his primary motivation, not out of fear but of love for the mitzvos. ( אבן יחייא )
(5) David used the phrase, “I will lift my hands” ( וְאֶשָּׂא כַפַּי ) to express the idea of willing acceptance of a duty out of love for the One Who entrusted him with that duty. ( אבן עזרא )
(6) Responding with love to Hashem’s commands David committed the strength of his hands ( כַפַּי ) and the meditations of his heart ( וְאָשִׂיחָה ) to his observance of the mitzvos. ( מצודות )
(7) With the phrase, “I will lift my hands” ( וְאֶשָּׂא כַפַּי ) David was also suggesting the eagerness with which one reaches out to take hold of a precious object before anyone else gets it. ( ספורנו )