Ki L’Olam Hasdo
1. Reading exercise Read through the Psalm. How does the repeated refrain influence your response to the Psalm? Do you think the Psalm tells a story?
2. Activity Review the Psalm for parallels with Psalm 135. How do you see the relationship between these two Psalms? Together, do they form a whole?
3. Setting The Psalm highlights various events in the history of the Israelite people. How would you describe the emphasis of this historical retelling? What is included? What is left out?
- Which verses do you consider to be the introduction and conclusion of the Psalm?
- How else would you divide the Psalm into sections?
- This is the only Psalm in the book of Psalms where a congregational refrain is part of every verse. What might we learn from this about the communal recitation of Psalms in the Temple?
5. Biblical/Rabbinic references
Verse 1: Psalm 106:1
Verse 4: Psalm 72:18, Psalm 86:10
Verse 5: Jeremiah 10:12, Proverbs 3:19
Verse 6: Isaiah 42:5, 44:24
Verses 7-9: Bereishit 1:16-18
Verse 10: Shmot 12:12, Numbers 33:4,
Verse 11-12: Shmot 7:5, Deut. 7:8, 19, Shmot 6:6, Deut. 4:34, 5:15, 26:8
Verse 14: Shmot 14:22, Numbers 33:8
Verse 15: Shmot 14:27, 15:4
Verse 16: Deut. 29:4, Psalm 78:52
Verses 17-22: Numbers 21:21-35
Verse 25: Psalm 145:15-16
Verse 12 נטויה what part of speech is this word (noun, adjective, verb)? Discuss its root and meaning.
Verse 23 בשפלנו – what part of speech is this word? Discuss its root and meaning.
Verse 24 ויפרקנו – what part of speech is this word? Discuss its root and meaning.
7. Prayer and liturgy
- This Psalm could be viewed as a collection of Biblical verses and themes put into liturgical form. Can you cite any other examples of this practice? What might this teach us about early Jewish liturgy?
- As discussed in question 3, this Psalm lifts up a particular set of events in Israelite history, some of which are commonly referred to in our liturgy; others which are not. What do you consider the role of history/story in prayer?
- This Psalm is referred to as the Great Hallel. From what period was this Psalm known as such and what are the origins of its use in liturgy?
8. Spiritual issues What do you consider to be the spiritual message of verses 23 & 24? Of the Psalm as a whole?
9. Conclusion What does the phrase כי לעולם חסדו mean? What do you think it has meant to Jews historically? What does it mean to you?