Psalms 143
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Listen to this chapter in Hebrew:

1  A psalm of David. Hashem, hear my prayer; give ear to my plea, as You are faithful; answer me, as You are beneficent.

א  מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד יְהוָה שְׁמַע תְּפִלָּתִי הַאֲזִינָה אֶל־תַּחֲנוּנַי בֶּאֱמֻנָתְךָ עֲנֵנִי בְּצִדְקָתֶךָ׃

2  Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for before You no creature is in the right.

ב  וְאַל־תָּבוֹא בְמִשְׁפָּט אֶת־עַבְדֶּךָ כִּי לֹא־יִצְדַּק לְפָנֶיךָ כָל־חָי׃

3  My foe hounded me; he crushed me to the ground; he made me dwell in darkness like those long dead.

ג  כִּי רָדַף אוֹיֵב נַפְשִׁי דִּכָּא לָאָרֶץ חַיָּתִי הוֹשִׁיבַנִי בְמַחֲשַׁכִּים כְּמֵתֵי עוֹלָם׃

4  My spirit failed within me; my mind was numbed with horror.

ד  וַתִּתְעַטֵּף עָלַי רוּחִי בְּתוֹכִי יִשְׁתּוֹמֵם לִבִּי׃

5  Then I thought of the days of old; I rehearsed all Your deeds, recounted the work of Your hands.

za-KHAR-tee ya-MEEM mi-KE-dem ha-GEE-tee v-khol pa-a-LE-kha b’-ma-a-SAY ya-DE-kha a-so-KHAY-akh

ה  זָכַרְתִּי יָמִים מִקֶּדֶם הָגִיתִי בְכָל־פָּעֳלֶךָ בְּמַעֲשֵׂה יָדֶיךָ אֲשׂוֹחֵחַ׃

143:5   Then I thought of the days of old

Once again, David is in a perilous state. Enemies from close and far depress him and make him feel lost and alone. In this psalm, he invokes a different technique to lift himself out of the morass: Memory. Isolating one’s consciousness to the here and now can be lonesome and disheartening. Remembering that one is part of something greater than the present, however, can be uplifting.  A number of biblical laws are related to past events and the idea of remembering, such as Shabbat, which is intended to remind us of both the creation of the world (Exodus 31:17) and the exodus from Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15). In 1948, the framers of Israel’s Declaration of Independence knew precisely how to begin their journey towards nationhood, by recalling the past. They began the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel as follows: “The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.”1 comment

6  I stretched out my hands to You, longing for You like thirsty earth. Selah.

ו  פֵּרַשְׂתִּי יָדַי אֵלֶיךָ נַפְשִׁי כְּאֶרֶץ־עֲיֵפָה לְךָ סֶלָה׃

7  Answer me quickly, Hashem; my spirit can endure no more. Do not hide Your face from me, or I shall become like those who descend into the Pit.

ז  מַהֵר עֲנֵנִי יְהוָה כָּלְתָה רוּחִי אַל־תַּסְתֵּר פָּנֶיךָ מִמֶּנִּי וְנִמְשַׁלְתִּי עִם־יֹרְדֵי בוֹר׃

8  Let me learn of Your faithfulness by daybreak, for in You I trust; let me know the road I must take, for on You I have set my hope.

ח  הַשְׁמִיעֵנִי בַבֹּקֶר חַסְדֶּךָ כִּי־בְךָ בָטָחְתִּי הוֹדִיעֵנִי דֶּרֶךְ־זוּ אֵלֵךְ כִּי־אֵלֶיךָ נָשָׂאתִי נַפְשִׁי׃

9  Save me from my foes, Hashem; to You I look for cover.

ט  הַצִּילֵנִי מֵאֹיְבַי יְהוָה אֵלֶיךָ כִסִּתִי׃

10  Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God. Let Your gracious spirit lead me on level ground.

י  לַמְּדֵנִי לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹנֶךָ כִּי־אַתָּה אֱלוֹהָי רוּחֲךָ טוֹבָה תַּנְחֵנִי בְּאֶרֶץ מִישׁוֹר׃

11  For the sake of Your name, Hashem, preserve me; as You are beneficent, free me from distress.

יא  לְמַעַן־שִׁמְךָ יְהוָה תְּחַיֵּנִי בְּצִדְקָתְךָ תוֹצִיא מִצָּרָה נַפְשִׁי׃

12  As You are faithful, put an end to my foes; destroy all my mortal enemies, for I am Your servant.

 

יב  וּבְחַסְדְּךָ תַּצְמִית אֹיְבָי וְהַאֲבַדְתָּ כָּל־צֹרֲרֵי נַפְשִׁי כִּי אֲנִי עַבְדֶּךָ׃

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Psalms 142
Psalms 144

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Psalms 143

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