(א) שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת לְדָוִד, הִנֵּה מַה טּוֹב וּמַה נָּעִים שֶׁבֶת אַחִים גַּם יָחַד:
(1) A song of the steps, by David. See now, how good and how pleasant it is, brothers dwelling together in unity.
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev. 2]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 133 – Brotherly Love
In this mizmor David speaks for Klal Yisrael, joyfully visualizing a future time when the Bais Hamikdash (Temple) has been rebuilt and the people have come up to Yerushalyim to serve Hashem. The mizmor celebrates the feeling of brotherly love which the people now share and which has created the framework for the flow of Hashem’s blessings to all. It was this unity and love which had been missing in previous generations and which had prevented the Geulah that has finally come.
Not only are the people united by being born into the family of Yisrael, they are united by brotherly love. None looks down upon the other because of the other’s apparent failings; on the contrary, each appreciates the other’s individual qualities. And each is secure in the knowledge that the other is not seeking to gain advantage at his expense.
Navigating Tehillim (1). This is the fourteenth in the series of 15 mizmorim to be sung by the Leviim in the Beis HaMikdash while standing on the 15 steps leading up from the women’s courtyard to the men’s courtyard.
Navigating Tehillim (2). Mizmorim 133 and 134 complete the cycle of the 15 Shirei Hamaalos on a note of exaltation. Both of these mizmorim visualize a time when the Geulah is here and the people have come to Yerushalayim to serve Hashem. The two mizmorim are linked by the theme of an unending flow of blessings from Hashem. In Mizmor 133 the people demonstrate their worthiness for the Geulah by the spirit of love and goodwill in which they receive Hashem’s blessings. In Mizmor 134 the people show their gratitude to Hashem by closing the virtuous circle and giving Him their blessing in turn. They do so through their tefillos and mitzvos.
Exploring the Mizmor
THE FLOW OF BLESSINGS. The mizmor visualizes the flow of blessings as comparable to the flow of anointing oil over the head of Aharon HaKohen when he was anointed as Kohen Gadol. Aharon was the first person ever to be anointed. His anointing marked the inauguration of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), which was the precursor to the Bais HaMikdash. The anointing of Aharon was done publicly in the presence of the people. This is how the future Mashiach (Messiah) will be anointed. In contrast, the anointing of David had taken place in secret.
Furthermore, Aharon was the model for the flow of blessings since his love of fellow Jews influenced them to join with him in his devotion to Hashem. Aharon demonstrated selfless love for his brother Moshe. Even though he was older than Moshe, he did not resent Moshe’s being designated to the role of King over the nation.
(א) שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת לְדָוִד, הִנֵּה מַה טּוֹב וּמַה נָּעִים שֶׁבֶת אַחִים גַּם יָחַד: (ב) כַּשֶּׁמֶן הַטּוֹב עַל הָרֹאשׁ יֹרֵד עַל הַזָּקָן זְקַן אַהֲרֹן שֶׁיֹּרֵד עַל פִּי מִדּוֹתָיו: (ג) כְּטַל חֶרְמוֹן שֶׁיֹּרֵד עַל הַרְרֵי צִיּוֹן כִּי שָׁם צִוָּה ה’ אֶת הַבְּרָכָה חַיִּים עַד הָעוֹלָם:
(1) A song of the steps, by David. See now, how good and how pleasant it is, brothers dwelling together in unity. (2) Like the fine oil on the head, flowing down upon the beard, the beard of Aharon, flowing down over his garment. (3) like the dew of [Mount] Chermon, which descends upon the mountains of Tzion, for there Hashem has commanded the blessing. [May there be] life forever.
Learning the Mizmor
THE FLOW OF BLESSINGS.
(א) שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת לְדָוִד
This is the 14th song of the steps — שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת . It was composed by David — לְדָוִד .
הִנֵּה מַה טּוֹב וּמַה נָּעִים
שֶׁבֶת אַחִים גַּם יָחַד:
See now — הִנֵּה , how good and how pleasant it is — מַה טּוֹב וּמַה נָּעִים – that the people of Yisrael, who are brothers, dwell together in unity — שֶׁבֶת אַחִים גַּם יָחַד . Even if one has a special blessing, such as having been anointed the King or Kohen Gadol, there is no envy because the blessings of Hashem flow to all.
(ב) כַּשֶּׁמֶן הַטּוֹב עַל הָרֹאשׁ
יֹרֵד עַל הַזָּקָן זְקַן אַהֲרֹן
שֶׁיֹּרֵד עַל פִּי מִדּוֹתָיו:
The blessings of Hashem flow like the fine sweet-smelling oil that was poured on the head — כַּשֶּׁמֶן הַטּוֹב עַל הָרֹאשׁ – of Aharon Hakohen when he was anointed, flowing down abundantly upon the beard — יֹרֵד עַל הַזָּקָן , the beard of Aharon — זְקַן אַהֲרֹן , flowing down over the edges of his garment — שֶׁיֹּרֵד עַל פִּי מִדּוֹתָיו .
(ג) כְּטַל חֶרְמוֹן שֶׁיֹּרֵד עַל הַרְרֵי צִיּוֹן
כִּי שָׁם צִוָּה ה’ אֶת הַבְּרָכָה
חַיִּים עַד הָעוֹלָם:
The blessings of Hashem flow from the Kohanim down to the people like the dew from the high peak of Mount Chermon, which descends upon the people who have come to Yerushalayim in the mountains of Tzion — כְּטַל חֶרְמוֹן שֶׁיֹּרֵד עַל הַרְרֵי צִיּוֹן , for there Hashem has commanded the blessing — כִּי שָׁם צִוָּה ה’ אֶת הַבְּרָכָה . May there be life forever — חַיִּים עַד הָעוֹלָם , extending into the World to Come!
Living the Mizmor
Listed below are some of the thoughts you might have in mind when you say the words of the mizmor as a tefillah to Hashem.
Lessons for Life – Your Behavior.
[133:1] PEACE. – הִנֵּה מַה טּוֹב וּמַה נָּעִים שֶׁבֶת אַחִים גַּם יָחַד – “See now, how good and how pleasant it is, brothers dwelling together in unity.” Make a conscious effort to promote peace and goodwill among Jews.
Tefillos for Life – Your Berachah.
[133:2] FLOW. – כַּשֶּׁמֶן הַטּוֹב עַל הָרֹאשׁ יֹרֵד עַל הַזָּקָן – “Like the fine oil on the head, flowing down upon the beard.” Ask Hashem to grant you and your loved ones a continuing flow of blessings.
[133:3] – כְּטַל חֶרְמוֹן שֶׁיֹּרֵד עַל הַרְרֵי צִיּוֹן כִּי שָׁם צִוָּה ה’ אֶת הַבְּרָכָה – “like the dew of [Mount] Chermon, which descends upon the mountains of Tzion, for there Hashem has commanded the blessing.”
[133:3] LIFE. – חַיִּים עַד הָעוֹלָם – “[May there be] life forever.” Ask Hashem to grant you and your loved ones eternal life in the World to Come.
This mizmor speaks of the flow of Hashem’s blessings (berachos) as being comparable to the flow of anointing oil. A thoughtful reader has brought to my attention the relationship between the root נזל , meaning “flow,” and the word “mazal.” So when we wish someone Mazal Tov, we are offering a tefillah that the flow of berachah from Hashem to that person should continue, get stronger and wash over them, and that it should continue to spread to all those around them. The contellations of stars are also referred to as מזלות , because the flow of blessing to the Jewish people is directed by Hashem from on high. Of course, that flow is not arbitrary, but reflects His will and our own deeds. It is surely not a matter of “luck”.
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this mizmor are listed below.
א – מצודות, נר לרגלי, מזמור לתודה
ב – רש”י, אבן עזרא, רד”ק, המאירי, ספורנו, נר לרגלי, מזמור לתודה
ג – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, המאירי, נר לרגלי