A New Look at Tehillim 144

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2 Responses

  1. dr. bill says:

    Interpreting Tanach can suffer from a desire to maintain a singular hashkafic position. What can be missed are the multiple viewpoints that need to be acknowledged and (possibly) harmonized. A good example, one clearly articulated during Neilah, is the juxtaposition of “..umosar min hadam ayin….” with “Atah hivdaltah enosh…” Similarly, the passuk in this perek of tehillim – “Adam lehevel damo, yamov kitzail ovair” – stands in philosophical and linguistic contrast to a passuk at the beginning of berashit – “Vayivrah et haadam betzalmo, betzelem demut tavnito.“

  2. Doron Beckerman says:

    Dr. Bill,

    Absolutely! The early mefarshim often layer their words with subtle modifiers due to ostensible counter sources.

    [The duality of man’s relative greatness/lowliness is addressed by Chazal in numerous places, such as בשבילי נברא העולם vs. יתוש קדמך, or זכה רודה לא זכה ירוד, et al. Experience educates us as to man’s unsurpassed potential for greatness and, simultaneously, depravity.]

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