Whilst a person is alive, he has all the days of his life to earn G-d’s mercy before his trial in the afterlife. However, once he is in the grave, he has lost the opportunity to perform more mitzvot, and must rely on what was earned during his brief sojourn in this world. King David pleads to Hashem not to ‘be deaf to me, for if you should be silent, to me then I would be likened to those who descend to the grave.’ He is asking Hashem to help him to resist the alluring ways of sinful people.
‘Or lerasha, or lishcheino,- woe to a wicked person, woe to his neighbour,’ says the famous saying from Ethics of the Fathers. One must always be aware of the dangers of hanging around with the wrong crowd, and the psalmist asks Hashem for assistance in remaining a righteous Jew. King David goes on to describe how people speak with ‘ peace to their companions,’ but in reality have ‘evil in their hearts.’ We must always be wary of people pretending to be nice but really seeking our harm.
The last verse of this Psalm is one of the most famous in the whole of Tehillim. ‘Hoishea et amecha, uvarech et nachalatecha, ureim vnateim ad olam. These words are well known to frequent shul goers, especially shuls that struggle for a minyan, as this pasuk is the one used to count numbers for a minyan, as it has 10 words.
It is a big zechus to be one of the first ten men in a minyan, as your presence there enables kadish and kedusha to be said as well as the ability to lein. As we head into a long winter, with memories of the High Holidays and Succot fast fading away into the distance, perhaps our early arrival in shul and more determined focus in our prayers can be something we work on through till Pesach.
To sponsor a Tehillim for £90 call 0203 906 8488 or email