Hoping for G-d
1. Reading exercise Read through the Psalm in Hebrew and look for familiar words and expressions. How much of the Psalm can you understand and how much is unclear to you?
2. Activity Identify the verbs in the Psalm and look up some of the verbs you do not know.
3. Setting What features of the Psalm indicate that it was recited by or in front of a community? Do you think it was recited by one or more voices?
4. Structure How would you divide this Psalm into sections? What holds the sections together?
5. Biblical references–
Verse 1 Psalm 147:1
Verse 7 Exodus 15:8
Verse 12 Psalm 144:15
Verse 17 Psalm 20:8
Verse 20 Psalm 115:9-11
Verse 3 היטיבו Even Shushan and BDB list this under the root יטב. See Ezekiel 33:32; Isaiah 23:16
Verse 7 כנס an uncommon root in Tanach, meaning gather.
Verse 7 כנד – the כ is a prefix meaning like. The noun is נד. A rare word in Tanach meaning wall or mound. See the Exodus reference above. What can the limited references in Tanach tell us about the context for this word?
Verse 10 הפיר – root פרר most often found in this hifil form, meaning cancel, nullify, frustrate or make ineffectual. See the famous line using this verb in Isaiah 8:10.
Verse 10 הניא root נוא rare root referring almost always to vows with nearly all references in the book of Numbers (plus ours and a couple of other Psalms references). Meaning hinder, restrain, frustrate or prevent.
Verse 16 נושע what is the root? What binyan is this word? What does it mean?
Verses 18, 22 מיחלים, יחלנו the root is יחל- translated as hope, wait or yearn.
7. Prayer and liturgy
Where else does verse 1 appear in the Shabbat morning liturgy?
In Ashkenazi liturgy, this Psalm appears between Psalm 136 and Psalm 92, towards the end of Pesukei DeZimra for Shabbat. In Nusach Sefarad, this Psalm appears right after Psalm 19 and before Psalm 34, at the beginning of Pesukei DeZimra for Shabbat. Which of these liturgical placements do you feel is more appropriate and why?
8. Spiritual issues Verses 13 and 14 provide a concise description of the Jewish concept of Hashagacha Pratit, the idea that G-d sees, watches and guides the actions of all people. Verses 18 and 19 also expand on this concept. Discuss your own thoughts about the Jewish concept of Hashgacha Pratit. Is it something you believe in? Why or why not?