A Comforting Psalm

מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד: יְהוָה רֹעִי, לֹא אֶחְסָר.
בִּנְאוֹת דֶּשֶׁא, יַרְבִּיצֵנִי; עַל-מֵי מְנֻחוֹת יְנַהֲלֵנִי.
נַפְשִׁי יְשׁוֹבֵב; יַנְחֵנִי בְמַעְגְּלֵי-צֶדֶק, לְמַעַן שְׁמוֹ.
גַּם כִּי-אֵלֵךְ בְּגֵיא צַלְמָוֶת, לֹא-אִירָא רָע-- כִּי-אַתָּה עִמָּדִי;
שִׁבְטְךָ וּמִשְׁעַנְתֶּךָ, הֵמָּה יְנַחֲמֻנִי

תַּעֲרֹךְ לְפָנַי, שֻׁלְחָן-- נֶגֶד צֹרְרָי;
דִּשַּׁנְתָּ בַשֶּׁמֶן רֹאשִׁי, כּוֹסִי רְוָיָה.
אַךְ, טוֹב וָחֶסֶד יִרְדְּפוּנִי-- כָּל-יְמֵי חַיָּי;
וְשַׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית-יְהוָה, לְאֹרֶךְ יָמִים

A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul; He guideth me in straight paths for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou hast anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Ilana-Davita and I are once again studying together; this time, we have chosen to learn about Tehilim, or Psalms. I decided that, at least for my first post on Psalms, I would choose a Psalm that has emotional meaning for me. I put the Psalm in Hebrew before the English because that is how I think of it, that is how I sing it. When my mother, z”l, may her memory be a blessing, was sick in the hospital, one of her many hospitalizations, I remember once singing this song with her and with my father. It must have been Shabbat afternoon, Saturday afternoon, when the Sabbath is almost over, and traditionally Jews sing songs reflective of the mood of the moment, sad that the Sabbath is ending and looking for comfort.

Last week the Rebbetzin’s Husband posted about the special rules when Erev Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbat. One of the laws was this:

One should not invite infrequent guests over for Seudah Shlishit, and a communal Seudah Shlishit is inappropriate.

Seudah Shlishit is the third meal of Shabbat, the one when we sing this Psalm, Mizmor L’David. Usually, our Shabbat is not considered to be a time of sadness or mourning, but it seems like this coming Shabbat, at least in the late afternoon, is a special exception. So when we sing Mizmor L’David this coming week, it will helpfully provide a special comfort to the sadness.

There is a lovely website with piyutim, traditional Jewish poetry and songs, that has several different recordings of the song, including the one that our family traditionally sings when the Shabbat is “ebbing away”. But it is presently the Nine Days, and it is not a time to be posting music. So I will suggest that you come back next week, some time after Sunday, and I will post the link to this lovely website.

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