Tefillah Tips: Ashrei IX

June 12, 2014

“ועזוז נוראתיך יאמרו, וגדולתך אספרנה – And they shall express the mightiness of Your deeds; Your greatness I will reveal.” It is interesting to note that while all previous verses the Psalmist’s expressions (excluding when he addresses G-d himself) are written in either first person or third person, this verse presents in both first and third person: “They shall express… I will reveal”.

King David remarks that Hashem’s acts of retribution are so mighty that they are worthy of being reviewed and told over detail by detail. For example: אז ישיר, The Song of the Sea does not simply state that the Egyptians drowned in the Red Sea. The Torah depicts blow by blow what befell the Egyptians. We proudly read the jubilant reaction of the Israelites each morning: “אז ישיר משה ובני ישראל-And then Moshe and the Children of Israel chanted.”

Rav Miller zt”l explains that the message embedded in the latter part of the verse is to learn to see greatness not only in G-d’s outstretched punitive arm, but in the hidden beauty and reality of nature as well. So often we only reckon with G-d at cosmic moments in our lives having to do with life, death, sickness and life cycle celebrations. King David teaches us that in our everyday existence the magnificence of Hashem and His handiwork is there for our admiration and praise.

It is as miraculous that the sun rises and sets, as it is that the Egyptians drowned in the sea. It is as wondrous how animals survive in their natural habitat every day, as it is that Korach got swallowed up in an instantaneously created hole in the ground. “וגדולתך אספרנה- Your greatness I will express”.

Alternatively the verse can be understood as follows:  ועזוז נוראתיך יאמרו – they see the mightiness of Your deeds; וגדולתך אספרנהbut I see the intrinsic greatness within those deeds themselves. As the Talmud states “Kol De-ovid Rochmana Letav Ovid- everything that G-d does is for the best” It is not always easy to see or feel this, nevertheless we know it is true.

Take Home Tip: King David is teaching us in this verse to A) see miracles in nature and B) know that there is plenty of good underneath all that we see; we just need to peel away the layers to reveal it.