דְּאָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן לוִי: בַּעֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת שֶׁל שֶׁבַח נֶאֱמַר סֵפֶר תְּהִלִּים: בְּ״נִיצּוּחַ״, בְּ״נִגּוּן״, בְּ״מַשְׂכִּיל״, בְּ״מִזְמוֹר״, בְּ״שִׁיר״, בְּ״אַשְׁרֵי״, בִּ״תְהִלָּה״, בִּ״תְפִלָּה״, בְּ״הוֹדָאָה״, בְּ״הַלְלוּיָהּ״. גָּדוֹל מִכּוּלָּן ״הַלְלוּיָהּ״, שֶׁכּוֹלֵל שֵׁם וָשֶׁבַח בְּבַת אַחַת.
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: The book of Psalms is said by means of ten expressions of praise: By nitzuaḥ, niggun, maskil, mizmor, shir, ashrei, tehilla, tefilla, hoda’a, and halleluya. He continues: The greatest of them all is halleluya, as it includes God’s name and praise at one time. This statement indicates that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi considers halleluya to be a combination of two words, one of which is the name of God.
they forever praise You. Selah.
happy the people whose God is the LORD.
I will extol You, my God and king,
and bless Your name forever and ever. (2) Every day will I bless You
and praise Your name forever and ever. (3) Great is the LORD and much acclaimed;
His greatness cannot be fathomed. (4) One generation shall laud Your works to another
and declare Your mighty acts. (5) The glorious majesty of Your splendor
and Your wondrous acts-a will I recite. (6) Men shall talk of the might of Your awesome deeds,
and I will recount Your greatness. (7) They shall celebrate Your abundant goodness,
and sing joyously of Your beneficence. (8) The LORD is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness. (9) The LORD is good to all,
and His mercy is upon all His works. (10) All Your works shall praise You, O LORD,
and Your faithful ones shall bless You. (11) They shall talk of the majesty of Your kingship,
and speak of Your might, (12) to make His mighty acts known among men
and the majestic glory of His kingship. (13) Your kingship is an eternal kingship;
Your dominion is for all generations. (14) The LORD supports all who stumble,
and makes all who are bent stand straight. (15) The eyes of all look to You expectantly,
and You give them their food when it is due. (16) You give it openhandedly,
feeding every creature to its heart’s content. (17) The LORD is beneficent in all His ways
and faithful in all His works. (18) The LORD is near to all who call Him,
to all who call Him with sincerity. (19) He fulfills the wishes of those who fear Him;
He hears their cry and delivers them. (20) The LORD watches over all who love Him,
but all the wicked He will destroy. (21) My mouth shall utter the praise of the LORD,
and all creatures shall bless His holy name forever and ever.
now and forever.
בְּיוֹמֵי דְּרַבִּי תַּנְחוּמָא הָיוּ צְרִיכִין יִשְׂרָאֵל לְתַעֲנִית, אָתוֹן לְגַבֵּיהּ אָמְרִין לֵיהּ רַבִּי גְּזָר תַּעֲנִיתָא, גָּזַר תַּעֲנִיתָא יוֹם קַדְמָאי יוֹם ב' יוֹם ג' וְלָא נְחַת מִטְרָא, עָאל וְדָרַשׁ לְהוֹן אֲמַר לְהוֹן בָּנַי הִתְמַלְּאוּ רַחֲמִים אֵלּוּ עַל אֵלּוּ וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מִתְמַלֵּא עֲלֵיכֶם רַחֲמִים. עַד שֶׁהֵן מְחַלְּקִין צְדָקָה לַעֲנִיֵּיהֶם רָאוּ אָדָם אֶחָד נוֹתֵן מָעוֹת לִגְרוּשָׁתוֹ, אָתוֹן לְגַבֵּיהּ וַאֲמַרוּ לֵיהּ, רַבִּי מָה אֲנַן יָתְבִין הָכָא וַעֲבֵרְתָּא הָכָא. אֲמַר לָהֶן מָה רְאִיתֶם, אָמְרוּ לוֹ רָאִינוּ אָדָם פְּלוֹנִי נוֹתֵן מָעוֹת לִגְרוּשָׁתוֹ, שְׁלַח בַּתְרֵיהוֹן וְאַיְיתִינוֹן לְגוֹ צִבּוּרָא. אָמַר לֵיהּ מָה הִיא לָךְ זוֹ, אָמַר לוֹ גְּרוּשָׁתִי הִיא. אָמַר לוֹ מִפְּנֵי מָה נָתַתָּ לָהּ מָעוֹת, אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי רָאִיתִי אוֹתָהּ בְּצָרָה וְהִתְמַלֵּאתִי עָלֶיהָ רַחֲמִים. בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה הִגְבִּיהַּ רַבִּי תַּנְחוּמָא פָּנָיו כְּלַפֵּי מַעְלָה וְאָמַר רִבּוֹן כָּל הָעוֹלָמִים מָה אִם זֶה שֶׁאֵין לָהּ עָלָיו מְזוֹנוֹת רָאָה אוֹתָהּ בְּצָרָה וְנִתְמַלֵּא עָלֶיהָ רַחֲמִים, אַתָּה שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּךָ (תהלים קמה, ח): חַנּוּן וְרַחוּם, וְאָנוּ בְּנֵי יְדִידֶיךָ בְּנֵי אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקֹב עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה שֶׁתִּתְמַלֵּא עָלֵינוּ רַחֲמִים.
In the days of R. Tanchuma, there was a drought. The people came to him and asked him to declare a fast, which he did. But still the rain did not come. So he called everyone together and began to preach: "My children, if you have compassion for each other, God will have compassion for you." As they were distributing funds to the poor, they noticed that one man was giving money to a woman he had divorced (which, to people at that time, suggested that the two were involved in a sexual relationship). They reported this to R. Tanchuma, who sent for the man and asked him,"What have you been doing?" "Giving money to my former wife," replied the man, "because she was in great need and I took pity on her." Upon hearing this, R.Tanchuma turned his face to heaven and said, "Lord of the universe, just as this kin, who no longer had any obligation to support this woman, behaved compassionately toward her, You, the all-compassionate One, should certainly take pity on us, your children, the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
"Adonai supports all who fall" Psalm 145:14. We have a tradition in the name of Rabbi Mordecai Yosef Liener of Izbica commenting on the meaning of "supporting those who fall." He teaches that not only does God support those who fall (somekh noflim), but so must lovers also. Izbica notes that according to Jewish law, all you need to get married is a coin. But then why does everyone use a wedding ring instead? This may be explained by considering the shape of a ring. It is round, just like the Hebrew letter samekh, the first letter of the phrase somekh noflim, "Adonai supports all who fall...." This reminds lovers that they must uphold one another when they stumble or fall. They say, "With this ring if you fall I will samakh you, I will support and uphold you. You are not giving a ring, you are giving a samekh. Indeed, when couples exchange rings, they pledge themselves to be present to support and uphold one another. And surely that is God's presence. ––Lawrence Kushner and Nehmia Polen
Praise the LORD, O my soul! (2) I will praise the LORD all my life,
sing hymns to my God while I exist.
(3) Put not your trust in the great,
in mortal man who cannot save. (4) His breath departs;
he returns to the dust;
on that day his plans come to nothing.
(5) Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
whose hope is in the LORD his God, (6) maker of heaven and earth,
the sea and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever; (7) who secures justice for those who are wronged,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free; (8) The LORD restores sight to the blind;
the LORD makes those who are bent stand straight;
the LORD loves the righteous; (9) The LORD watches over the stranger;
He gives courage to the orphan and widow,
but makes the path of the wicked tortuous.
(10) The LORD shall reign forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise Him on high. (2) Praise Him, all His angels,
praise Him, all His hosts. (3) Praise Him, sun and moon,
praise Him, all bright stars. (4) Praise Him, highest heavens,
and you waters that are above the heavens. (5) Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for it was He who commanded that they be created. (6) He made them endure forever,
establishing an order that shall never change. (7) Praise the LORD, O you who are on earth,
all sea monsters and ocean depths, (8) fire and hail, snow and smoke,
storm wind that executes His command, (9) all mountains and hills,
all fruit trees and cedars, (10) all wild and tamed beasts,
creeping things and winged birds, (11) all kings and peoples of the earth,
all princes of the earth and its judges, (12) youths and maidens alike,
old and young together. (13) Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for His name, His alone, is sublime;
His splendor covers heaven and earth. (14) He has exalted the horn of His people
for the glory of all His faithful ones,
Israel, the people close to Him.
Praise God in His sanctuary;
praise Him in the sky, His stronghold. (2) Praise Him for His mighty acts;
praise Him for His exceeding greatness. (3) Praise Him with blasts of the horn;
praise Him with harp and lyre. (4) Praise Him with timbrel and dance;
praise Him with lute and pipe. (5) Praise Him with resounding cymbals;
praise Him with loud-clashing cymbals. (6) Let all that breathes praise the LORD.
חֲמִשָּׁה שֵׁמוֹת נִקְרְאוּ לָהּ: נֶפֶשׁ, רוּחַ, נְשָׁמָה, יְחִידָה, חַיָּה. נֶפֶשׁ, זֶה הַדָּם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יב, כג): כִּי הַדָּם הוּא הַנֶּפֶשׁ. רוּחַ, שֶׁהִיא עוֹלָה וְיוֹרֶדֶת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (קהלת ג, כא): מִי יוֹדֵעַ רוּחַ בְּנֵי אָדָם הָעוֹלָה הִיא לְמַעְלָה. נְשָׁמָה, זוֹ הָאוֹפִיָּא, דִּבְרִיָּתָא אָמְרִין הָאוֹפִיתָא טָבָא. חַיָּה, שֶׁכָּל הָאֵבָרִים מֵתִים וְהִיא חַיָּה בַּגּוּף. יְחִידָה, שֶׁכָּל הָאֵבָרִים מִשְׁנַיִם שְׁנַיִם, וְהִיא יְחִידָה בַּגּוּף.
The "soul" is breath, a vapor whose natural state is floating upward. At every moment our souls want to leave us. Or to put it in a more sobering but accurate way, being alive is not the default position. The natural state of life is death. Without some intervening force, our souls would leave us all. It's almost as if what keeps us alive is that God, as it were, is pressing down on the lid and keeping our souls from escaping from our bodies into the void (rakiah)! Here we have an expression of core spirituality. Every moment is now worthy of the simple ecstasy of and gratitude for simply being alive. "Oh, I'm alive again! Yet another moment in life!"––Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev, Kedushat Levi
את שירת הלב נשמת חיים הללויה
From the depths, Praise God! The song of the heart, The breath of life, Praise God!
Words by Rabbi Or Zohar, adapted from Psalm 130
Well, maybe there's a God above
As for me all I've ever learned from love
Is how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
But it's not a crime that you're hear tonight
It's not some pilgrim who claims to have seen the Light
No, it's a cold and it's a very broken Hallelujah
Now I've done my best, I know it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand right here before the Lord of song
With nothing, nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah