1 Happy are those whose way is blameless, who follow the teaching of Hashem.
ash-RAY t’-mee-may DA-rekh ha-ho-l’-KHEEM b’-to-RAT a-do-NAI
א אַשְׁרֵי תְמִימֵי־דָרֶךְ הַהֹלְכִים בְּתוֹרַת יְהֹוָה׃
119:1 Happy are those whose way is blameless.
This psalm contains 176 verses of praise of Hashem, making it the longest chapter in the entire Tanach. It is an alphabetic acrostic in which each group of eight verses all begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and almost every verse focuses on the beauty of God’s Torah. Why is each letter repeated eight times? Kabbalistic teachings note that the natural order of the world corresponds to the number seven. For example, there are seven days in a week. The number eight, therefore, reflects that which is above nature, meaning the supernatural or the metaphysical. The eighth day after birth, therefore, is the day when a Jewish baby boy is circumcised, because it reflects the meta-historical connection between the Jew and Hashem. The Torah was given on the fiftieth day after the exodus, representing the day following a series of seven sevens. Eretz Yisrael also has a fifty-year cycle, with the yovel, the Jubilee year, occurring after forty-nine years, to remind us of the unique connection between Hashem and the Holy Land. The Nation of Israel, the Land of Israel, and the Torah of Israel are all associated with the number eight. Each contains a supernatural element, and are all reflected in this unique psalm.