“דור לדור ישבח מעשיך וגבורתיך יגידו –From Generation to generation they will praise your works, and Your mighty acts they will relate.”
From generation to generation is an often used phrase to showcase the need for Jewish awareness and continuity. The question is, what exactly should we be transmitting from generation to generation? Gefilte fish and Chicken Soup recipes are great, but we can be certain that King David had a lot more in mind.
If we take a closer look at the verse we will notice the use of two different verbs and two different objects. The first part of the verse says ישבח – they will praise, while the second part states יגידו – they will relate. The first part reads מעשיך – your works; the second part reads וגבורתיך -Your mighty acts. What is the difference between praising and relating, and what is the difference between G-d’s works vs. His mighty deeds?
The Gaon of Vilna writes that praising refers to a specific matter that we understand, as opposed to relating which implies matters at large that are beyond precise description.
Rav Avigdor Miller remarks that “Your works” represents the sun, the moon, and the stars and all constant features of the universe. “Your mighty deeds” is defined as grand miracles that supercede nature and demonstrate the greatness of the Creator.
With these explanations, the verse makes a lot of sense. From generation to generation they will praise your works because they will study them and understand the depths of the natural world around us, but they will only be able to relate to one another the supernatural miracles. We can only describe and relate the splitting of the sea, The falling of the Manna, The Ten Plagues etc. because they defy logic and nature.
Take Home Tip: As Pesach approaches and we review and transmit the great miracles G-d performed for us in Egypt and at Sinai indeed we will both share with our children and grandchildren the greatness of G-d’s universe and everything He has created within it, as well as the unbelievable miracles that have occurred throughout our Exodus. More than the Gefilte fish and the Chicken soup this recipe of דור לדור ישבח מעשיך will last forever.