Psalms – Chapter 33

Bagpipes and Babel

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

David tells the righteous to sing because of G-d; it is appropriate for them to do so. They should praise him with the kinor, which is a harp, and the neivel asor, which may be a ten-stringed instrument, or perhaps a wind instrument with ten holes. (“Asor” means “ten.”) There are other explanations; Rashi in Talmud Erchin 13b suggests that it may have been a kind of bagpipe.

“Sing a new song to G-d,” David encourages. “Every word from Him is just and every deed is reliable. G-d loves righteousness and His kindness fills the world. He merely spoke and the Heavens were formed, along with everything in them. He collected the waters and spread out the land. How can one not be in awe of Him?

G-d cancels out the plans of gathered people, as He did at the Tower of Babel. It is His plan that will win out. Israel is fortunate that G-d selected them. He looks down on mankind from Heaven, but He is not far; He closely inspects things. As the One Who made man, He certainly understands what’s on their minds.

Salvation doesn’t come from armies, horses or personal power. These things all retain their abilities – or lose them – because of G-d. G-d focuses His attention on people who trust in Him and anticipate His goodness. He will save them from war and famine. Those who look to G-d enjoy His protection and will rejoice in His salvation. David prays that these people merit receiving the expected kindness from G-d.

This Psalm, which begins “Ran’nu Tzaddikim” in Hebrew, is part of the morning service on Sabbaths and Festivals.

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