1 A Song of Ascents. When Hashem brought back those that returned to Tzion, we were like unto them that dream.
sheer ha-ma-a-LOT b’-SHUV a-do-NAI et shee-VAT tzi-YON ha-YEE-nu k’-kho-l’-MEEM
א שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת בְּשׁוּב יְהוָה אֶת שִׁיבַת צִיּוֹן הָיִינוּ כְּחֹלְמִים.
126:1 When the LORD brought back those that returned to Zion
Psalm 126 refers to Zion, one of the Bible’s names for Jerusalem in particular and the Land of Israel in general. It is closely related to the Hebrew word for special and distinctive, ‘m’tzuyan’ (מצוין). This teaches that God’s holy city is not just a location, it is a way of life. According to former British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, “Zion is not just a place. It is a way of life. Jews are called to moral excellence, to be different…” God created a special place on earth which would be the ideal incubator for spiritual growth. The word Zion, therefore, describes not only where we live but how we must live. Psalm 126 is recited by Jews upon completing a meal, connecting each daily meal with the eternal Jewish longing for Zion; for physical redemption and spiritual greatness. When God finally returns His people to Israel, “we will be like dreamers,” as the actual redemption and heightened spirituality will be even greater than hoped.
2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing; then said they among the nations: ‘Hashem hath done great things with these.’
ב אָז יִמָּלֵא שְׂחוֹק פִּינוּ וּלְשׁוֹנֵנוּ רִנָּה אָז יֹאמְרוּ בַגּוֹיִם הִגְדִּיל יְהוָה לַעֲשׂוֹת עִם אֵלֶּה.
3 Hashem hath done great things with us; we are rejoiced.
ג הִגְדִּיל יְהוָה לַעֲשׂוֹת עִמָּנוּ הָיִינוּ שְׂמֵחִים.
4 Turn our captivity, O Hashem, as the streams in the dry land.
ד שׁוּבָה יְהוָה אֶת שבותנו (שְׁבִיתֵנוּ) כַּאֲפִיקִים בַּנֶּגֶב.
5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
ה הַזֹּרְעִים בְּדִמְעָה בְּרִנָּה יִקְצֹרוּ.
6 Though he goeth on his way weeping that beareth the measure of seed, he shall come home with joy, bearing his sheaves.
ו הָלוֹךְ יֵלֵךְ וּבָכֹה נֹשֵׂא מֶשֶׁךְ הַזָּרַע בֹּא יָבֹא בְרִנָּה נֹשֵׂא אֲלֻמֹּתָיו.