forgetting the right hand

Just to make sure you know what I’m talking about:

Psalms Chapter 137 תְּהִלִּים

א עַל נַהֲרוֹת, בָּבֶל–שָׁם יָשַׁבְנוּ, גַּם-בָּכִינוּ:    בְּזָכְרֵנוּ, אֶת-צִיּוֹן. 1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
ב עַל-עֲרָבִים בְּתוֹכָהּ–    תָּלִינוּ, כִּנֹּרוֹתֵינוּ. 2 Upon the willows in the midst thereof we hanged up our harps.
ג כִּי שָׁם שְׁאֵלוּנוּ שׁוֹבֵינוּ, דִּבְרֵי-שִׁיר–    וְתוֹלָלֵינוּ שִׂמְחָה:
שִׁירוּ לָנוּ,    מִשִּׁיר צִיּוֹן.
3 For there they that led us captive asked of us words of song, and our tormentors asked of us mirth: {N}
‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion.’
ד אֵיךְ–נָשִׁיר אֶת-שִׁיר-יְהוָה:    עַל, אַדְמַת נֵכָר. 4 How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a foreign land?
ה אִם-אֶשְׁכָּחֵךְ יְרוּשָׁלִָם–    תִּשְׁכַּח יְמִינִי. 5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
ו תִּדְבַּק-לְשׁוֹנִי, לְחִכִּי–    אִם-לֹא אֶזְכְּרֵכִי:
אִם-לֹא אַעֲלֶה, אֶת-יְרוּשָׁלִַם–    עַל, רֹאשׁ שִׂמְחָתִי.
6 Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; {N}
if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy.

And now what am I talking about?

A few weeks ago, I injured my hand while exercising. It happened to be my right hand, which got me thinking more than usual about this particular Kapital Tehillim, plus the use of the word “right” in general. I did talk about it a long time ago (in the lifetime of this blog, that is) here, but I haven’t learned that much more. After all, I’m a leftie, so I don’t think of my right hand as particularly cunning. And that clearly is the intention but not the strict translation. How did it get to mean that? No one that I have found talks about it differently.

I found something about Mordechai being known as Ish Yemini because he is fulfilling this pasuk by never forgetting Jerusalem, being of course a pun on the fact that he was from the tribe of Benjamin—the Yemini in the phrase, but the talk did not include sources. Bummer on that one. I’ll look more for that.

I also found an interesting discussion about Har HaBayit (the home of the Beit HaMikdash)

. מאז עם ישראל שאף לשוב לציון ושלוש פעמים מתפלל:”ותחזינה עינינו בשובך לציון ברחמים” ובסיום כל סעודה הוא מברך: “וְתִבְנֶה יְרוּשָׁלַיִם עִירָךְ בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵינוּ: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’, בּוֹנֵה יְרוּשָׁלָיִם”. ובכל הזדמנות היהודי מצפה לשיבה לציון. לפי-כך הוא נשבע: “אִם-אֶשְׁכָּחֵךְ יְרוּשָׁלִָם תִּשְׁכַּח יְמִינִי. ותִּדְבַּק לְשׁוֹנִי, לְחִכִּי אִם-לֹא אֶזְכְּרֵכִי: אִם-לֹא אַעֲלֶה, אֶת יְרוּשָׁלִַם עַל, רֹאשׁ שִׂמְחָתִי” ([[ספר תהילים]], קל”ז,ה’-ו’).

Since [the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash], the people of Israel have aspired to return to Tziyon and pray 3 times a day “May our eyes view Your returning to Tziyon in mercy” and at the end of every meal, pray “May Yerushalayim Your city be rebuilt quickly in our days. Blessed are You, Who builds Jerusalem.” And in every opportunity a Jew hopes to return to Tziyon. Therefore, he swears “If I forget thee, Oh Jerusalem…”

And yet, somehow we’re doing a very good job of forgetting our right these days, aren’t we? The language is quite striking, isn’t it?

Now here are the last 3 sentences of that psalm, but I think I’ll leave them for another time.

ז זְכֹר יְהוָה, לִבְנֵי אֱדוֹם–    אֵת, יוֹם יְרוּשָׁלִָם:
הָאֹמְרִים, עָרוּ עָרוּ–    עַד, הַיְסוֹד בָּהּ.
7 Remember, O LORD, against the children of Edom the day of Jerusalem; {N}
who said: ‘Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.’
ח בַּת-בָּבֶל,    הַשְּׁדוּדָה:
אַשְׁרֵי שֶׁיְשַׁלֶּם-לָךְ–    אֶת-גְּמוּלֵךְ, שֶׁגָּמַלְתְּ לָנוּ.
8 O daughter of Babylon, that art to be destroyed; {N}
happy shall he be, that repayeth thee as thou hast served us.
ט אַשְׁרֵי, שֶׁיֹּאחֵז וְנִפֵּץ אֶת-עֹלָלַיִךְ–    אֶל-הַסָּלַע. 9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the rock. {P}
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One response

  1. Pingback: re-orienting myself | But Mostly Hers

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