(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ לִבְנֵי קֹרַח מַשְׂכִּיל: (ב) אֱלֹקִים בְּאָזְנֵינוּ שָׁמַעְנוּ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ סִפְּרוּ לָנוּ פֹּעַל פָּעַלְתָּ בִימֵיהֶם בִּימֵי קֶדֶם:
(1) For the musician, a song of enlightenment by the sons of Korach. (2) G-d, we have heard with our [own] ears. Our forefathers, have related to us the deeds that You performed, in their days, in the days of old.
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev 6]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 044 – Triumph and Tragedy
This mizmor is a tefillah in which the Jewish people express the mixed emotions that we have felt during times of Exile. On the one hand there is a sense of great joy and gratitude for the miraculous events of times past when Hashem freed us from oppression and gave us our Land. But on the other hand there is a bitter lamentation for our current tragic situation. The situation has become so bad that we fear we may not be able to survive if Hashem does not come to our aid immediately. Therefore, the mizmor concludes with a heartfelt plea for Hashem to grant us a yeshuah now, even if we don’t deserve it.
Exploring the Mizmor
The mizmor is written as though being sung by the assembled Jewish people, sometimes speaking as a single national entity and sometimes speaking in the plural form as a collection of individuals. (Possibly it was intended to be performed alternately by a lead singer and a choir.)
PART 1. TRIUMPHS IN TIMES PAST. The people look back fondly on the triumphant days of times past when Hashem performed great wonders for them, bringing them from the slavery of Mitzrayim (Egypt) and the travails of the Midbar (Wilderness) to a great kingdom in the Land of Canaan.
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ לִבְנֵי קֹרַח מַשְׂכִּיל: (ב) אֱלֹקִים בְּאָזְנֵינוּ שָׁמַעְנוּ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ סִפְּרוּ לָנוּ פֹּעַל פָּעַלְתָּ בִימֵיהֶם בִּימֵי קֶדֶם: (ג) אַתָּה יָדְךָ גּוֹיִם הוֹרַשְׁתָּ וַתִּטָּעֵם תָּרַע לְאֻמִּים וַתְּשַׁלְּחֵם: (ד) כִּי לֹא בְחַרְבָּם יָרְשׁוּ אָרֶץ וּזְרוֹעָם לֹא הוֹשִׁיעָה לָּמוֹ כִּי יְמִינְךָ וּזְרוֹעֲךָ וְאוֹר פָּנֶיךָ כִּי רְצִיתָם:
(1) For the musician, a song of enlightenment by the sons of Korach. (2) G-d, we have heard with our [own] ears. Our forefathers, have related to us the deeds that You performed, in their days, in the days of old. (3) You, [with] Your own hand, drove out [seven sinful] nations and planted [our forefathers in the Land of Canaan]. You smashed the [sinful] peoples and dismissed them. (4) For not by their sword did [our forefathers] possess the land, nor did their arm save them. Rather [what saved them were] Your right hand, Your arm and the light of Your Countenance because You showed favor to them.
PART 2. A PLEA FOR HELP. The people are now in Exile and ask Hashem to grant yeshuos for the present day generation. They admit they may not be worthy of His direct intervention, so they ask that at the least He send His malachim (ministering angels) to come to their aid.
(ה) אַתָּה הוּא מַלְכִּי אֱלֹקִים צַוֵּה יְשׁוּעוֹת יַעֲקֹב: (ו) בְּךָ צָרֵינוּ נְנַגֵּחַ בְּשִׁמְךָ נָבוּס קָמֵינוּ: (ז) כִּי לֹא בְקַשְׁתִּי אֶבְטָח וְחַרְבִּי לֹא תוֹשִׁיעֵנִי: (ח) כִּי הוֹשַׁעְתָּנוּ מִצָּרֵינוּ וּמְשַׂנְאֵינוּ הֱבִישׁוֹתָ:
(5) You have been my King, O G-d, command [Your malachim to carry out] yeshuos for Yaakov. (6) With [Your help] we will stand up and attack our foes. Through Your Name we will run down those who rise up against us. (7) For I will not trust in my bow, and my sword will not save me. (8) For You have saved us [in the past] from our tormentors and You shamed those who hate us.
PART 3. GLORY AND GRATITUDE. Even if they are not fully worthy now, the people recall that historically they have always thanked Hashem for coming to their aid. In recognition of that consistent practice of gratitude they hope He will save them again.
(ט) בֵּאלֹקִים הִלַּלְנוּ כָל הַיּוֹם וְשִׁמְךָ לְעוֹלָם נוֹדֶה סֶלָה:
(9) G-d has given us a sense of glory all the days, and we have always thanked Your Name, Selah.
PART 4. THE TRAGEDY OF THE PRESENT. The people bitterly bemoan their current tragic situation, which is much worse than they first suggested. Because of the critical situation they feel they can no longer wait for a yeshuah. They know that they have sinned but they also know that the judgment of Hashem is the instrument of their suffering.
(י) אַף זָנַחְתָּ וַתַּכְלִימֵנוּ וְלֹא תֵצֵא בְּצִבְאוֹתֵינוּ: (יא) תְּשִׁיבֵנוּ אָחוֹר מִנִּי צָר וּמְשַׂנְאֵינוּ שָׁסוּ לָמוֹ: (יב) תִּתְּנֵנוּ כְּצֹאן מַאֲכָל וּבַגּוֹיִם זֵרִיתָנוּ: (יג) תִּמְכֹּר עַמְּךָ בְלֹא הוֹן וְלֹא רִבִּיתָ בִּמְחִירֵיהֶם: (יד) תְּשִׂימֵנוּ חֶרְפָּה לִשְׁכֵנֵינוּ לַעַג וָקֶלֶס לִסְבִיבוֹתֵינוּ: (טו) תְּשִׂימֵנוּ מָשָׁל בַּגּוֹיִם מְנוֹד רֹאשׁ בַּל אֻמִּים: (טז) כָּל הַיּוֹם כְּלִמָּתִי נֶגְדִּי וּבֹשֶׁת פָּנַי כִּסָּתְנִי: (יז) מִקּוֹל מְחָרֵף וּמְגַדֵּף מִפְּנֵי אוֹיֵב וּמִתְנַקֵּם:
(10) [But now] You have also cast us off and humiliated us; You don’t go forth with our armies. (11) You have turned us back [in retreat] from the tormentor. Those who hate us have plundered [our valuables] for themselves. (12) You handed us [over], like sheep to be eaten and You scattered us among the nations. (13). You sell Your nation without [even asking for] something worthwhile. You do not raise their price. (14) You have made us an object of ridicule to our neighbors. [We have become] the mockery and scorn of those around us. (15) You made us a [tragic] symbol among the nations, [a reason] among the peoples [for] shaking [their] head. (16) My disgrace is before me every day. My face is covered in shame … (17) … at the loud voice [of the blasphemer who] defies and denies. [I suffer humiliation] before the enemy the avenger.
PART 5. LOYALTY IN TORMENT. The people strengthen their argument for yeshuah: In addition to gratitude for past wonders in triumphal times, they have remained loyal to Hashem despite the torment of tragic times. They hope their faithfulness will count against the reckoning of their sins.
(יח) כָּל זֹאת בָּאַתְנוּ וְלֹא שְׁכַחֲנוּךָ וְלֹא שִׁקַּרְנוּ בִּבְרִיתֶךָ: (יט) לֹא נָסוֹג אָחוֹר לִבֵּנוּ וַתֵּט אֲשֻׁרֵינוּ מִנִּי אָרְחֶךָ: (כ) כִּי דִכִּיתָנוּ בִּמְקוֹם תַּנִּים וַתְּכַס עָלֵינוּ בְצַלְמָוֶת: (כא) אִם שָׁכַחְנוּ שֵׁם אֱלֹהֵינוּ וַנִּפְרֹשׂ כַּפֵּינוּ לְאֵל זָר: (כב) הֲלֹא אֱלֹקִים יַחֲקָר זֹאת כִּי הוּא יֹדֵעַ תַּעֲלֻמוֹת לֵב: (כג) כִּי עָלֶיךָ הֹרַגְנוּ כָל הַיּוֹם נֶחְשַׁבְנוּ כְּצֹאן טִבְחָה:
(18) All this has come upon us but we have not forgotten You. We have not betrayed Your covenant. (19) Our heart has not retreated, nor have our footsteps deviated from Your path. (20) Even when You crushed us in the territory of [nations cruel as] serpents and enveloped us in the dark shadow [of the Exile]. (21) Have we forgotten the Name of our G-d? Have we extended our hands [in prayer] to an alien god? (22) Would not G-d have detected this, for He knows the secrets of the heart? (23) For we have [willingly allowed ourselves] to be killed at all times for Your Name. We have been counted as sheep for slaughter.
PART 6. THE TIME IS NOW. The people desperately plead for an immediate yeshuah, justified by the kindness of Hashem, if nothing else.
(כד) עוּרָה לָמָּה תִישַׁן אֲדֹ־נָי הָקִיצָה אַל תִּזְנַח לָנֶצַח: (כה) לָמָּה פָנֶיךָ תַסְתִּיר תִּשְׁכַּח עָנְיֵנוּ וְלַחֲצֵנוּ: (כו) כִּי שָׁחָה לֶעָפָר נַפְשֵׁנוּ דָּבְקָה לָאָרֶץ בִּטְנֵנוּ: (כז) קוּמָה עֶזְרָתָה לָּנוּ וּפְדֵנוּ לְמַעַן חַסְדֶּךָ:
(24) Awake! Why [do You wish to] appear asleep, Hashem? bring about an awakening. Don’t forsake [us] forever! (25) Why do You hide Your face? Why do You [appear to] forget our suffering and distress? (26) For our soul has bowed towards the dust, our belly clings to the ground. (27) Arise to Help us! Redeem us because of Your kindness.
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. TRIUMPHS IN TIMES PAST.
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ לִבְנֵי קֹרַח מַשְׂכִּיל:
For the musician — לַמְנַצֵּחַ – who will perform it, this is a maskil (song of enlightenment) composed by the sons of Korach — לִבְנֵי קֹרַח מַשְׂכִּיל – through the power of nevuah (prophecy).
(ב) אֱלֹקִים בְּאָזְנֵינוּ שָׁמַעְנוּ
אֲבוֹתֵינוּ סִפְּרוּ לָנוּ
G-d, with our own ears we have heard — אֱלֹקִים בְּאָזְנֵינוּ שָׁמַעְנוּ – of the miraculous events which occurred when the Jewish people were liberated from Mitzrayim and traveled through the Midbar to enter Eretz Yisrael. Our forefathers, who were eminently trustworthy, have related these events to us — אֲבוֹתֵינוּ סִפְּרוּ לָנוּ – through a chain of faithful tradition that goes back many generations.
פֹּעַל פָּעַלְתָּ בִימֵיהֶם
Each generation passed on to their children the description of the historic deeds that You performed — פֹּעַל פָּעַלְתָּ , as witnessed originally by our forefathers in their days — בִימֵיהֶם . Although that was in days of old — בִּימֵי קֶדֶם , the chain of tradition that links us to them is so strong that it is as though we heard the testimony ourselves from the original witnesses.
(ג) אַתָּה יָדְךָ גּוֹיִם הוֹרַשְׁתָּ
You, with Your own hand — אַתָּה יָדְךָ – of judgment, drove out seven sinful nations — גּוֹיִם הוֹרַשְׁתָּ – from the land of Canaan. It was You that executed Your judgment against them. Even though Your action was also for the benefit of our forefathers, they did not find it necessary to do battle against those idol-worshipping nations.
And You planted our forefathers — וַתִּטָּעֵם – in the Land like a healthy young tree, so that they would flourish there. As for those who previously occupied Canaan, You smashed the peoples because of their sins and dismissed them — תָּרַע לְאֻמִּים וַתְּשַׁלְּחֵם – from the arena of history.
(ד) כִּי לֹא בְחַרְבָּם יָרְשׁוּ אָרֶץ
וּזְרוֹעָם לֹא הוֹשִׁיעָה לָּמוֹ
For not by their sword — כִּי לֹא בְחַרְבָּם – did our forefathers possess the land — יָרְשׁוּ אָרֶץ , nor did the might and skill of their arm save them — וּזְרוֹעָם לֹא הוֹשִׁיעָה לָּמוֹ . In any case this would have been inadequate for they were not a trained military force.
כִּי יְמִינְךָ וּזְרוֹעֲךָ וְאוֹר פָּנֶיךָ
Rather — כִּי – what saved them, Hashem, were the following three things: (1) the power of Your right hand — יְמִינְךָ , (2) the weapons of battle wielded by Your arm — וּזְרוֹעֲךָ , and (3) the light that came to them from Your countenance — וְאוֹר פָּנֶיךָ . That light was the light of the Torah and the Shechinah (Your presence), which accompanied them.
You did all this for their benefit because — כִּי – they dedicated themselves to Your will. And so You showed favor to them — רְצִיתָם – even though they were not yet worthy of miracles being done in their own zechus (merit).
PART 2. A PLEA FOR HELP.
(ה) אַתָּה הוּא מַלְכִּי אֱלֹקִים
צַוֵּה יְשׁוּעוֹת יַעֲקֹב:
You have been my King, O G-d — אַתָּה הוּא מַלְכִּי אֱלֹקִים – and performed all these yeshuos in the past without an intermediary. Now continue to be my King and come to my aid. If I am not worthy of Your direct help, at least command Your malachim to carry out yeshuos for the children of Yaakov — צַוֵּה יְשׁוּעוֹת יַעֲקֹב . Even if I don’t have the title Yisrael and I am only Yaakov, a lowly nation ground under the heels of the other nations, I ask that You keep the promise You made to me and don’t let me be destroyed by them.
(ו) בְּךָ צָרֵינוּ נְנַגֵּחַ
בְּשִׁמְךָ נָבוּס קָמֵינוּ:
Even though we are still in exile and cannot count on Your direct intervention, give us Your blessing. Then, with Your help we will stand up and attack our foes — בְּךָ צָרֵינוּ נְנַגֵּחַ – like a goring ram that scatters its adversaries. Through the power of Your Name we will run down those who rise up against us — בְּשִׁמְךָ נָבוּס קָמֵינוּ – seeking to destroy us.
(ז) כִּי לֹא בְקַשְׁתִּי אֶבְטָח
וְחַרְבִּי לֹא תוֹשִׁיעֵנִי:
But my yeshuah will be Your doing, for I will not trust in the arrows from my bow — כִּי לֹא בְקַשְׁתִּי אֶבְטָח – to keep the enemy away, and should the enemy break through my defenses, my sword will not save me — וְחַרְבִּי לֹא תוֹשִׁיעֵנִי . The power that I have comes only from Your Name with which You have blessed me.
(ח) כִּי הוֹשַׁעְתָּנוּ מִצָּרֵינוּ
We count on Your yeshuah for You have saved us in the past from our tormentors — כִּי הוֹשַׁעְתָּנוּ מִצָּרֵינוּ – and You shamed those who hate us — וּמְשַׂנְאֵינוּ הֱבִישׁוֹתָ . There were many times when their hatred made them want to destroy us, but You shamed them by demonstrating that their plans were futile. Our victory was not our doing, but Yours.
PART 3. GLORY AND GRATITUDE.
(ט) בֵּאלֹקִים הִלַּלְנוּ כָל הַיּוֹם
וְשִׁמְךָ לְעוֹלָם נוֹדֶה סֶלָה:
When You saved us in the past we always acknowledged our debt to You and we gratefully thanked You. In that zechus (merit) we appeal to You to save us again. The fact of Your being our G-d — בֵּאֱלֹקִים – has given us a sense of glory — הִלַּלְנוּ – all the days — כָל הַיּוֹם , and we have always thanked Your Name, Selah — וְשִׁמְךָ לְעוֹלָם נוֹדֶה סֶלָה .
PART 4. THE TRAGEDY OF THE PRESENT.
(י) אַף זָנַחְתָּ וַתַּכְלִימֵנוּ
וְלֹא תֵצֵא בְּצִבְאוֹתֵינוּ:
Yet, just as You saved us in the past so now You have also cast us off and humiliated us — אַף זָנַחְתָּ וַתַּכְלִימֵנוּ – by showing us up before our enemies. We told them You would save us, but instead You have rejected us. We said You would be at the forefront of our battles but You do not go forth with our armies — וְלֹא תֵצֵא בְּצִבְאוֹתֵינוּ .
(יא) תְּשִׁיבֵנוּ אָחוֹר מִנִּי צָר
וּמְשַׂנְאֵינוּ שָׁסוּ לָמוֹ:
We know that we are powerless without You and so we shrink back when an enemy approaches. By not going forth with our armies You have effectively turned us back in retreat from the tormentor — תְּשִׁיבֵנוּ אָחוֹר מִנִּי צָר – even more than we had succeeded in turning our enemies back in better times. And when we were in retreat those who hate us — וּמְשַׂנְאֵינוּ – plundered our valuables for themselves — שָׁסוּ לָמוֹ .
(יב) תִּתְּנֵנוּ כְּצֹאן מַאֲכָל
You handed us over to our vicious enemies, like sheep that are to be slaughtered and eaten — תִּתְּנֵנוּ כְּצֹאן מַאֲכָל – but not like those that are kept for breeding and wool. To murder a Jew seemed to them no more wicked than to slaughter a sheep. And You scattered us among the nations — וּבַגּוֹיִם זֵרִיתָנוּ – so that we were worse off than sheep, which are at least kept together and watched over by a shepherd.
(יג) תִּמְכֹּר עַמְּךָ בְלֹא הוֹן
וְלֹא רִבִּיתָ בִּמְחִירֵיהֶם:
The Jewish people have been Your devoted servants, but the Exile has lasted so long that it is as if You have sold them away to cruel taskmasters. You sell Your nation — תִּמְכֹּר עַמְּךָ – without even asking for something worthwhile — בְלֹא הוֹן – in return so that the buyer will want to protect his investment. It seems that whatever You get for Your people is not important to You and so You do not try to raise their price — וְלֹא רִבִּיתָ בִּמְחִירֵיהֶם .
(יד) תְּשִׂימֵנוּ חֶרְפָּה לִשְׁכֵנֵינוּ
לַעַג וָקֶלֶס לִסְבִיבוֹתֵינוּ:
After scattering us among the nations, You have made us an object of ridicule to our neighbors — תְּשִׂימֵנוּ חֶרְפָּה לִשְׁכֵנֵינוּ . We have fallen to such a low level that they don’t want us in their vicinity, even in separate ghettos. We have become the mockery and scorn of those around us — לַעַג וָקֶלֶס לִסְבִיבוֹתֵינוּ . Furthermore, it is not only we who are disrespected, but the laws and the mitzvos that we observe.
(טו) תְּשִׂימֵנוּ מָשָׁל בַּגּוֹיִם
מְנוֹד רֹאשׁ בַּלְאֻמִּים:
You made us a tragic symbol among the nations — תְּשִׂימֵנוּ מָשָׁל בַּגּוֹיִם – because we were once so high and have sunk so low. We have become a reason among the peoples — בַּלְאֻמִּים – for shaking their head — מְנוֹד רֹאשׁ – in amazement at how such a thing could have happened.
(טז) כָּל הַיּוֹם כְּלִמָּתִי נֶגְדִּי
וּבֹשֶׁת פָּנַי כִּסָּתְנִי:
There is no letup in my feeling of humiliation, knowing that I have been rejected by my Creator. Every day — כָּל הַיּוֹם – and all day long my disgrace is before me — כְּלִמָּתִי נֶגְדִּי , and so I cannot show my face. In fact, my face is covered in shame — וּבֹשֶׁת פָּנַי כִּסָּתְנִי .
(יז) מִקּוֹל מְחָרֵף וּמְגַדֵּף
מִפְּנֵי אוֹיֵב וּמִתְנַקֵּם:
I suffer public shame at the loud voice — מִקּוֹל – of the blasphemer who defies G-d — מְחָרֵף – and denies — וּמְגַדֵּף the authority of the Torah. I suffer humiliation before the enemy — מִפְּנֵי אוֹיֵב – who seeks my degradation because he resents my devotion to G-d. And I suffer humiliation before the avenger — וּמִתְנַקֵּם – who acts angrily towards me as though I have harmed him and now deserve to be punished.
PART 5. LOYALTY IN TORMENT.
(יח) כָּל זֹאת בָּאַתְנוּ
All this — כָּל זֹאת – endless hardship that has come upon us — בָּאַתְנוּ – would make it seem as if You had forgotten us and broken Your covenant with us. And yet despite our being exposed to the blasphemers that continue to defy You, we have not forgotten You — וְלֹא שְׁכַחֲנוּךָ .
וְלֹא שִׁקַּרְנוּ בִּבְרִיתֶךָ:
Despite our being continually humiliated by those who deny the authority of the Torah, we have remained faithful and have not betrayed Your covenant — וְלֹא שִׁקַּרְנוּ בִּבְרִיתֶךָ . We surely have not sought to blame You for our troubles, and have not looked for an excuse to evade our commitment to You. We have readily acknowledged our sins.
(יט) לֹא נָסוֹג אָחוֹר לִבֵּנוּ
וַתֵּט אֲשֻׁרֵינוּ מִנִּי אָרְחֶךָ:
Despite the prosperity of our enemies, our heart has not retreated — לֹא נָסוֹג אָחוֹר לִבֵּנוּ – from our emunah. We have not betrayed You in our thoughts. Nor have we betrayed You in our actions. Our footsteps have not deviated from following Your path — וַתֵּט אֲשֻׁרֵינוּ מִנִּי אָרְחֶךָ – of Torah and mitzvos, even though You have been exacting in Your demands that we adhere to the commitment we have taken upon ourselves.
(כ) כִּי דִכִּיתָנוּ בִּמְקוֹם תַּנִּים
וַתְּכַס עָלֵינוּ בְצַלְמָוֶת:
We remained faithful to You even when You crushed us and humbled us in the territory of nations who are cruel as serpents — כִּי דִכִּיתָנוּ בִּמְקוֹם תַּנִּים – and even when You enveloped us in the dark shadow — וַתְּכַס עָלֵינוּ בְצַלְמָוֶת – of the exile where we suffered in continuing anguish and fear of death.
(כא) אִם שָׁכַחְנוּ שֵׁם אֱלֹקֵינוּ
וַנִּפְרֹשׂ כַּפֵּינוּ לְאֵל זָר:
Have we become frustrated with our situation and given up on our prayers to Hashem? Have we forgotten the Name of our G-d — אִם שָׁכַחְנוּ שֵׁם אֱלֹקֵינוּ ? Have we become influenced by the prosperity of those around us and extended our hands in prayer to an alien god — וַנִּפְרֹשׂ כַּפֵּינוּ לְאֵל זָר ?
(כב) הֲלֹא אֱלֹקִים יַחֲקָר זֹאת
כִּי הוּא יֹדֵעַ תַּעֲלֻמוֹת לֵב:
If we had been attracted to a false god, even at the subconscious level, would not G-d have detected this — הֲלֹא אֱלֹקִים יַחֲקָר זֹאת , for He knows the secrets of the heart — כִּי הוּא יֹדֵעַ תַּעֲלֻמוֹת לֵב ?
(כג) כִּי עָלֶיךָ הֹרַגְנוּ כָל הַיּוֹם
נֶחְשַׁבְנוּ כְּצֹאן טִבְחָה:
The depth of our loyalty has been demonstrated by events, because we have willingly allowed ourselves to be killed at all times for the honor of Your Name — כִּי עָלֶיךָ הֹרַגְנוּ כָל הַיּוֹם . We have been counted as sheep that are held for slaughter — נֶחְשַׁבְנוּ כְּצֹאן טִבְחָה – and yet we have remained faithful to You, which could never have been if our emunah was not authentic.
PART 6. THE TIME IS NOW.
(כד) עוּרָה לָמָּה תִישַׁן אֲדֹ־נָי
Show the world that You are awake — עוּרָה ! Why do You wish to appear asleep, Hashem — לָמָּה תִישַׁן אֲדֹ־נָי ? You can see that we want to do Your will.
הָקִיצָה אַל תִּזְנַח לָנֶצַח:
Therefore, now is the time to bring about an awakening — הָקִיצָה . As time passes it becomes more and more difficult for us to be worthy of You. If You do not save us now we may never be able to come back to You. Don’t forsake us forever — אַל תִּזְנַח לָנֶצַח !
(כה) לָמָּה פָנֶיךָ תַסְתִּיר
תִּשְׁכַּח עָנְיֵנוּ וְלַחֲצֵנוּ:
Why do You hide Your face — לָמָּה פָנֶיךָ תַסְתִּיר ? You make it seem as though You don’t want to have to see our pain. We have not forgotten You, so why do You appear to forget our suffering and distress — תִּשְׁכַּח עָנְיֵנוּ וְלַחֲצֵנוּ ? Shouldn’t the history of our torment be sufficient to compensate for our sins?
(כו) כִּי שָׁחָה לֶעָפָר נַפְשֵׁנוּ
דָּבְקָה לָאָרֶץ בִּטְנֵנוּ:
For we have sunk to such a low level that we are near death in this spiritual Exile. Our soul has bowed towards the dust — כִּי שָׁחָה לֶעָפָר נַפְשֵׁנוּ – of the grave. In this physical exile, our belly clings to the ground — דָּבְקָה לָאָרֶץ בִּטְנֵנוּ – because our arms are no longer able to support it. Our only possibility of rising again is for You to help us now.
(כז) קוּמָה עֶזְרָתָה לָּנוּ
וּפְדֵנוּ לְמַעַן חַסְדֶּךָ:
Arise to help us — קוּמָה עֶזְרָתָה לָּנוּ ! Our deeds are insufficient to warrant Your favorable judgment, but we are desperate and so we ask that You redeem us from this exile anyway, if only because of Your kindness — וּפְדֵנוּ לְמַעַן חַסְדֶּךָ !
Living the Mizmor
Listed below are some of the lessons that you can draw from this mizmor, as well as some of the thoughts you might have in mind when you say the words of the mizmor as a tefillah, expressing your devotion to Hashem.
Lessons for Life – Your Attitude.
[44:2] TRADITION. – אֱלֹקִים בְּאָזְנֵינוּ שָׁמַעְנוּ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ סִפְּרוּ לָנוּ – “G-d, we have heard with our [own] ears. Our forefathers, have related to us.” Strengthen Your emunah (faith) by recalling that the events of the past did not occur in a vacuum. Their history was passed down to from father to son, from generation to generation.
[44:3] DIVINE ACTION. – אַתָּה יָדְךָ גּוֹיִם הוֹרַשְׁתָּ וַתִּטָּעֵם תָּרַע לְאֻמִּים וַתְּשַׁלְּחֵם – “You, [with] Your own hand, drove out [seven sinful] nations and planted [our forefathers in the Land of Canaan.” Renew your conviction that we committed no offense in taking possession of Eretz Canaan. It was Hashem who replaced the Canaanim because of their corrupt ways.
Tefillos for Life – Your Plea for Yeshuah.
[44:5] STRENGTH. – אַתָּה הוּא מַלְכִּי אֱלֹקִים צַוֵּה יְשׁוּעוֹת יַעֲקֹב – “You have been my King, O G-d, command [Your malachim to carry out] yeshuos for Yaakov.” Ask Hashem to invoke His traditional bond with the Jewish people and save them from their enemies, even if that yeshuah is carried out by intermediaries rather than the direct hand of G-d.
[44:8] – כִּי הוֹשַׁעְתָּנוּ מִצָּרֵינוּ וּמְשַׂנְאֵינוּ הֱבִישׁוֹתָ – “For You have saved us [in the past] from our tormentors and You shamed those who hate us.”
[44:27] URGENCY. – קוּמָה עֶזְרָתָה לָּנוּ וּפְדֵנוּ לְמַעַן חַסְדֶּךָ – “Arise to Help us! Redeem us because of Your kindness.” Ask Hashem not to wait any longer, but to bring the yeshuah now. It is urgently needed.
Tefillos for Life – Your Gratitude.
[44:9] THANKING FOR PAST GLORIES. – בֵּאלֹקִים הִלַּלְנוּ כָל הַיּוֹם וְשִׁמְךָ לְעוֹלָם נוֹדֶה סֶלָה – “G-d has given us a sense of glory all the days, and we have always thanked Your Name, Selah.” Continue to thank Hashem for the past glories of our nation.
Tefillos for Life – Your Relationship with Hashem.
[44:10] ABANDONMENT. – אַף זָנַחְתָּ וַתַּכְלִימֵנוּ – “[But now] You have also cast us off and humiliated us.” Ask Hashem to restore His closeness to you.
[44:11]. – תְּשִׁיבֵנוּ אָחוֹר מִנִּי צָר – “You have turned us back [in retreat] from the tormentor.”
Tefillos for Life – Your Anguish.
[44:15] ABANDONMENT. – תְּשִׂימֵנוּ מָשָׁל בַּגּוֹיִם מְנוֹד רֹאשׁ בַּלְאֻמִּים – “You made us a [tragic] symbol among the nations, [a reason] among the peoples [for] shaking [their] head.” Our humiliation is all the worse because it was imposed through the actions of Hashem and therefore symbolizes how He has distanced Himself from us.
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this mizmor are listed below.
א – מלבי”ם
ב – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, המאירי, בן־רמוך, ספורנו
ג – רש”י, רד”ק, ספורנו, רשר”ה
ד – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, המאירי, בן־רמוך, ספורנו, רשר”ה
ה – רד”ק, מלבי”ם
ו – רש”י, אבן עזרא, רד”ק, בן־רמוך, מלבי”ם
ז – רד”ק, נר לרגלי
ח – רד”ק , מצודות, מלבי”ם, מאיר טוב
ט – מאיר טוב
י – רד”ק, בן־רמוך, אלשיך
יא – רש”י, רד”ק, המאירי, בן־רמוך, רשר”ה
יב – רד”ק , רשר”ה
יג – רד”ק, המאירי, מלבי”ם
יד – בן־רמוך, מלבי”ם
טו – רד”ק, נר לרגלי
טז – בן־רמוך, נר לרגלי
יז – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, בן־רמוך
יח – רד”ק, בן־רמוך, ספורנו, רשר”ה, נר לרגלי
יט – בן־רמוך, אבן יחייא, נר לרגלי, מאיר טוב
כ – המאירי, בן־רמוך, אבן יחייא, מלבי”ם
כא – רד”ק, בן־רמוך
כב – רד”ק, ספורנו, נר לרגלי
כג – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, מאיר טוב
כד – רד”ק, נר לרגלי
כה – רד”ק, בן־רמוך, מאיר טוב
כו – רד”ק, בן־רמוך, מלבי”ם, מאיר טוב
כז – רש”י, אבן עזרא,