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1A song of ascents. To You, enthroned in heaven, I turn my eyes.
אשִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת אֵלֶיךָ נָשָׂאתִי אֶת־עֵינַי הַיֹּשְׁבִי בַּשָּׁמָיִם׃
2As the eyes of slaves follow their master's hand, as the eyes of a slave-girl follow the hand of her mistress, so our eyes are toward Hashem our God, awaiting His favor.
בהִנֵּה כְעֵינֵי עֲבָדִים אֶל־יַד אֲדוֹנֵיהֶם כְּעֵינֵי שִׁפְחָה אֶל־יַד גְּבִרְתָּהּ כֵּן עֵינֵינוּ אֶל־יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ עַד שֶׁיְּחָנֵּנוּ׃
3Show us favor, Hashem, show us favor! We have had more than enough of contempt.
kha-NAY-nu a-do-NAI kha-NAY-nu kee RAV sa-VA-nu VUZ
גחָנֵּנוּ יְהֹוָה חָנֵּנוּ כִּי־רַב שָׂבַעְנוּ בוּז׃
123:3 We have had more than enough of contempt
Rabbi Yosef Albo, a fifteenth century Spanish Jewish scholar, understands this psalm as a call to Hashem for mercy from the long, and difficult exile. The psalmist speaks of the shame he undergoes living in the protracted exile. In one of his most famous writings about the Land of Israel, called “Six Knocks,” Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, leader of American Modern Orthodoxy in the twentieth century, speaks of the miraculous nature of the re-birth of the Jewish people in our times, with the State of Israel as the modern Jewish homeland. Rabbi Soloveitchik notes that finally, after thousands of years of exile, Jewish blood is no longer cheap, as a Jew can always find “a secure refuge in the land of his ancestors.” The shame of being defenseless and landless is too much for the psalmist to handle, so he cries out to God for salvation. In modern times, we have begun to experience that salvation.
4Long enough have we endured the scorn of the complacent, the contempt of th haughty.
דרַבַּת שָׂבְעָה־לָּהּ נַפְשֵׁנוּ הַלַּעַג הַשַּׁאֲנַנִּים הַבּוּז לִגְאֵיוֹנִים׃