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☞   Tehilim (Psalms)

Scaling the Walls of the Labyrinth: Psalms 67 and Ana b’Khoaḥ

Psalm 67 is a priestly blessing for all the peoples of the earth to be sustained by the earth’s harvest (yevulah), and it is a petition that all humanity recognize the divine nature (Elohim) illuminating the world. Composed of seven verses, the psalm is often visually depicted as a seven branched menorah. There are 49 words in the entire psalm, and in the Nusaḥ ha-ARI z”l there is one word for each day of the Sefirat haOmer. Similarly, the fifth verse has 49 letters and each letter can be used as a focal point for meditating on the meaning of the day in its week in the journey to Shavuot, the festival of weeks (the culmination of the barley harvest), and the festival of oaths (shevuot) in celebration of receiving the Torah. Many of the themes of Psalm 67 are repeated in the prayer Ana b’Koaḥ, which also has 49 words, and which are also used to focus on the meaning of each day on the cyclical and labyrinthine journey towards Shavuot. . . .

אַשְׁרֵי יוֹשְׁבֵי בֵיתֶךָ | Ashrei Yoshvei Veitekha (Psalms 145), an Alphabetical English Translation by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Why is Ashrei such a beloved part of the service? Partially it is because of its alphabetical structure, making it perfect for communal reading. This translation attempts to preserve this in an English equivalence. . . .

אַשְׁרֵי יוֹשְׁבֵי בֵיתֶךָ | Ashrei Yoshvei Veitekha (Psalms 145), an Alphabetical English translation by Rabbi Sam Seicol

A modern translation of the Ashrei in alphabetic parallel to the Hebrew. . . .

הַתִּקּוּן הַכְּלָלִי שֶׁל רֶבִּי נַחְמָן | The Tiqqun haKlali (General Remedy) of Rebbe Naḥman of Bratslav

Before our hands can fix, we need to care. Before we can care, we need our eyes open. But how can we remind ourselves to see, and sustain our sensitivity and capability for compassion? We can shy from the pain that comes with empathy, and we can shy from the pain that comes with taking responsibility for the suffering we cause. But there are consequences to shying away, to disaffection and callous disassociation. If there is any hope, it is as Rebbe Naḥman explained so succinctly: “If you believe that you can damage, then believe that you can fix.” In 1806, Rebbe Naḥman of Bratslav taught that the recitation of ten psalms could act as a powerful Tikkun (remedy) in a process of t’shuva leading to an awareness of the divine presence that permeates and enlivens this world but is alas, hidden though an accretion of transgressive thoughts and actions. Five years later, Rebbe Naḥman revealed the specific ten psalms of this Tikkun to two of his closest disciples, Rabbi Aharon of Bratslav and Rabbi Naftali of Nemirov. . . .