Psalms – Chapter 102

Ki Va Moed

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

David calls this Psalm the prayer of an afflicted person who has been weakened by his troubles and calls out to G-d. He asks that G-d heed this prayer and not turn away from him on his day of trouble. Rather, he hopes that G-d will quickly answer his plea. (The person in this Psalm is emblematic of Israel in exile.)

The afflicted person says that his days are insubstantial, like smoke, and that his bones are destroyed within him as if they were burned. His heart is like dry, withered grass and he no longer knows how to enjoy the fruits of his own labors. He is physically depleted from the strength of his own sighs. He feels like a bird in the wilderness, away from human settlements. He endures alone, while his enemies mock him. His sustenance is ashes and tears, the stuff of mourning. Why? Because we angered G-d, Who first raised us up, then cast us down.

Our days are like a growing shadow – eventually darkness comes. But G-d goes on forever and every generation will acknowledge Him! When the time comes, He will arise and have mercy on Israel. The Jews in exile long to return to the Holy Land. When G-d returns them, the nations of the world will be in awe of Him. G-d will rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple, where He will reveal Himself in all His glory.

G-d will answer the prayer of Israel, who were destroyed and reviled by their enemies. Let the prayer be recorded for posterity so that the renewed nation will praise G-d because He looked down, saw their suffering, and freed them. The restored exiles will praise G-d in Jerusalem and the nations of the world will join in His service.

In exile, we were weakened and our lives were shortened. We prayed to G-d not to allow us to be destroyed; He is eternal and we should always serve Him! G-d is eternal, but that which He created – down to the very Heavens and Earth – will eventually pass away. It’s like a person outlasting a garment that wears out – G-d can always make Himself another one! G-d is endless and unchanging. May His servants and their children be firmly established before Him!

Verse 14, which says that G-d will arise and have mercy because the time has arrived, is familiar as the song Atah Sakum (or Atah Takum for those who transliterate Sephardi-style), with its popular refrain of “ki va moed.”

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