Week of 1 February 2018 – Psalm 65

This comment is in memory of my late mother (Brainah Leah bat Moshe Aharon) and for all those who read Tehillim for the sake of others. [To see the full Mechon Mamre text, please click here.]

Psalm 65 is a song of praise to the Almighty either for the daily miracles of an agricultural existence or specifically for the end of a severe drought. It is attributed to David and can be divided into 2 halves.

The first section acknowledges G-d’s glory, power and grace – hearing our prayers, forgiving our sins, protecting and supporting us and performing wonders and miracles. The second half focuses on G-d’s providential role toward Creation, raising up mountains, calming seas, preserving the seasons, providing rainfall and enabling an abundant harvest.

In Temple times, visitors looked forward with quiet reverence to ceremonial worship. The reference to Zion may indicate a universal hope for a time when all humanity will recognise G-d’s Temple. Priests would seek forgiveness for communal sins before commencing. This pattern goes back to the original Mishkan dedication by Aharon & his sons.

לְךָ דֻמִיָּה תְהִלָּה אֱ-לֹהִים בְּצִיּוֹן; וּלְךָ, יְשֻׁלַּם-נֶדֶר. Praise awaits You, O G-d, in Zion; and unto You the vow is performed. (Psalms 65:2)

דִּבְרֵי עֲוֺנֹת, גָּבְרוּ מֶנִּי; פְּשָׁעֵינוּ, אַתָּה תְכַפְּרֵם. The tale of iniquity is too heavy for me; please pardon our transgressions. (Psalms 65:4)

Making pilgrimage to the Temple was an annual requirement. It reminded the visitor of our spiritual role to the wider world; to be a Holy Nation and a Kingdom of Priests.

אַשְׁרֵי, תִּבְחַר וּתְקָרֵב– יִשְׁכֹּן חֲצֵרֶיךָ: נִשְׂבְּעָה, בְּטוּב בֵּיתֶךָ; קְדֹשׁ, הֵיכָלֶךָ. Happy is he who You choose to bring near, that he dwells in Your courts; may we be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, the holy place of Your temple! (Pslams 65:5)

At the conclusion of the crisis (whether drought or otherwise), Psalm 65 expresses the author’s gratitude for G-d’s salvation. Reference to the foundations of the physical world – its mountains, seas and heavens filled with rain – shows the Almighty maintains our world on principles of Nature and Justice. This gives humans confidence and a sense of great joy.

נוֹרָאוֹת, בְּצֶדֶק תַּעֲנֵנוּ– אֱ-לֹהֵי יִשְׁעֵנוּ; מִבְטָח כָּל-קַצְוֵי-אֶרֶץ, וְיָם רְחֹקִים. With wonders do You answer us in righteousness, O G-d of our salvation; You are the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of the far distant seas. (Psalms 65:6)

פָּקַדְתָּ הָאָרֶץ וַתְּשֹׁקְקֶהָ, רַבַּת תַּעְשְׁרֶנָּה– פֶּלֶג אֱ-לֹהִים, מָלֵא מָיִם; תָּכִין דְּגָנָם, כִּי-כֵן תְּכִינֶהָ. You remembered the earth, watered her, greatly enriching her, with the river of G-d full of water; You prepare them corn, for so You prepare her. (Psalms 65:10)

עִטַּרְתָּ, שְׁנַת טוֹבָתֶךָ; וּמַעְגָּלֶיךָ, יִרְעֲפוּן דָּשֶׁן. You crown the year with goodness; and Your paths overflow with fatness. (Psalms 65:12)

לָבְשׁוּ כָרִים, הַצֹּאן– וַעֲמָקִים יַעַטְפוּ-בָר; יִתְרוֹעֲעוּ, אַף-יָשִׁירוּ. The meadows are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered with corn; they shout for joy, yea, they sing. (Psalms 65:14)

Other commentators, including Ibn Ezra, suggest this Psalm wasn’t written by David but by a choirmaster on the occasion of the building of Solomon’s Temple. A third view is that it was written during the time of King Hezekiah after the retreat of the Assyrian army which was under the command of Sennacherib (See II Kings Chapters 18-19. The latter view is supported by comparisons with Psalm 46.)


Our sincerest thanks to Rivka David, Yuval & Ron Cohen, Etty Gafen, Aida Benhamu, Michael Ross, Sylvia Kozon, Dr Nathan Hasson and all who helped celebrate Tu B’Shvat on Tuesday night in Rambam Sephardi style. There was a discrepancy in the official total of fruits represented – but by all counts it was above 63!

Thanks as well to Rabbi Amos Azizoff for launching the evening with words of inspiration and to Rabbi Mino Lavi for joining our Seder. For a look at some of the photos and videos, please visit our website or Facebook page.

Tu B’Shvat reminds us that ‘Man is a tree of the field’ (Deut. 20:19) and that we have much in common with nature. A tree grows fruit and offers shade. It emerges from the harshness of winter each year, continuing for decades if not longer. Its fruit gives great pleasure but takes years to develop and mature, teaching us a lesson of perseverance. Finally, trees provide shade, protection and support, reminding us of our obligation to nurture others.

Here are a few other gentle but important announcements:

While the UK Prime Minister is in China negotiating trade deals, we’re looking forward this week to hosting Hazan David Hazan from Golders Green. David has enthralled us previously with his Bahgdadi hazanut. Please join us this week for what we hope will be an encore preformance.