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Perspectives on Tehillim 47


This week, Priority-1 will host its 23rd annual Motzei Shabbos Tanach shiur on Psalms 46 and 47, with its veteran maggid shiur, Dr. Alex Bruckstein.

Psalm 47 should be familiar to most of us as the opening liturgy to the annual Rosh Hashanah shofar-blowing service. Dr. Bruckstein will devote his one-hour lecture to an analysis of its text and theme. This week’s column will preview the psalm as a lead-up to Dr. Bruckstein’s shiur, which will take place at the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst, 8 Spruce St., corner Broadway, at 7 pm.

ArtScroll, in its commentary on this chapter, verse 6, teaches us the following: “G-d ascended with the blast — many Midrashim suggest that the Psalmist is alluding to the blast of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah. Specifically, the Teruah is the broken blast, which symbolizes the harsh shattering punishments of Elokim, the dispenser of strict Justice. When the Jew hears the sound of the Teruah, he realizes that he deserves shattering punishment for his sins and is inspired to repent. Having felt remorse for his sins, he is forgiven and the verdict of Elokim is nullified. Thus, G-d ascends and departs because of the Teruah blast.”

“Further on into this verse we read: “G-d, with the sound of the shofar — Sforno observes that this is the long awaited blast signaling the ingathering of exiles, ‘And it shall come to pass on that day that a great horn shall be blown; and they shall come — those who were lost in the land of Assyria, and those who were dispersed in the land of Egypt — and they shall prostrate themselves before G-d on the holy mountain, Jerusalem’ (Isaiah 27:13).”

Rabbi Yosef B. Marcus, in his commentary to this Psalm published by Kehot, writes, “G-d’s motivation in creating the world is the pleasure he receives from our fulfillment of the Torah and mitzvoth. G-d’s desire for our service, then, is the foundation on which the world is built. Remove the desire for our service, and there is nothing to sustain creation.

“On Rosh Hashanah, G-d ascends the seat of justice. However, when the Jewish people then sound the shofar, G-d moves from the seat of justice to the seat of mercy. Filled with compassion for them, He shifts from a judgment approach to a merciful one [Vayikra Rabbah 29:3].”

One last take is from the Da’at Mikra Bible, published by Mosad HaRav Kook:

“This verse [Psalm 47] was recited while the congregation [or the shofar-blowers among them] shouted and sounded the shofar. The leader of the congregation proclaimed: The shouts and shofar blasts signify that G-d has gone up as king. The psalmist uses the term alah, ‘has gone up,’ as if to say that G-d has gone up like a mortal king who ascends steps to reach his royal throne.

“The words ‘sound the shofar’ parallel the word ‘shout.’ We noted above [verse 2] that the word ‘teruah’ refers to a loud sound, whether vocal or instrumental. The psalmist uses the Tetragrammaton as if to say that the Lord, and no other, is G-d.”

Further perspectives on this valued chapter of Tehillim will be the centerpiece of Dr. Bruckstein’s upcoming shiur.