Psalms – Chapter 79

Not This, But That

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Asaf calls to G-d regarding the invaders who have violated the Temple and devastated Jerusalem. The corpses of the fallen are left for scavengers to devour. The invaders shed blood like water and the dead remained unburied because the few survivors were too afraid to come out of hiding.

Those who managed to survive were disgraced in the eyes of the world. Will G-d be forever angry at us? Will He destroy the nation? Rather, He should pour His wrath out on idolatrous nations for what they have done to His people. (Verses 6-7 are said on Passover, when the door is opened for Elijah. A variation of these verses appears in Jeremiah chapter 10.) Asaf asks that G-d not hold the sins of our ancestors against us. Instead, may His mercy come to greet us in our degraded state.

G-d should save us, not because we have earned it, but for the sanctification of His Name. Don’t let the nations gloat that our G-d is nowhere to be seen. Rather, let Him avenge the fallen of His people! (Verse 10 is said in the Av HaRachamim prayer, recited most Sabbaths.) May G-d hear the groans of the captives and rescue them from death. The nations who betrayed us should pay seven times for disgracing G-d. When He does this, we, His flock, will thank Him forever, throughout the generations to follow.

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