- Praise Hashem! Let (the sound of) the praise of Hashem come from the Heavens (in general), (that is,) those who dwell in the highest heaven should praise Him.
- (Specifically,) all His angels should praise him, (and) all His legions (that are physical, like the stars of the constellations) should praise Him.
- The sun and the moon should praise Him, (and) all of the planets whose light shines on the earth (more than other stars) should praise Him.
- The heaven of heavens (which is above the visible sky) should praise Him, and the waters that are above the sky (should praise Him).
- (All these Heavenly beings) should praise the Name of Hashem, for He commanded and they were created.
- And He established them (to last) forever, (and) He gave a decree that is never violated (each one stays with its task and never deviates).
After mentioning the various heavenly creations, we “command” them to praise Hashem:
“(All these Heavenly beings) should praise the Name of Hashem, for He commanded and they were created”
Praise Hashem in that He created them “yeish mei’ayin” – something from nothing. With His mere word, He commanded the heavenly creations into existence.
“And He established them (to last) forever”
He established them to remain steadfast and stable in the universe. This is unlike earthly creations, such as plants and animals, which wither and die. The heavenly creations remain the same as when Hashem created them. The wonder of their continued and constant existence and function is as great a wonder as their creation.
“He gave a decree that is never violated”
The heavenly creations do not deviate from their role in the universe. Hashem gave them a mandate and they carry it out continuously without deviation.
They are unlike the wind, rain, and snow, which Hashem uses as His messengers precisely when and where He desires. For example, some homes are hit harder than others in storms, some trees are uprooted by the wind, and some are not touched.
[based on the Malbim, 1809-1879, and on the Panim Yafos by the Baal Hafla’ah – Rav Pinchas HaLevi Horowitz, 1731-1805]
After we mention the heavenly creations, we mention the earthly ones. Towards the end of the mizmor, we say:
“They (all) will praise the Name of Hashem, for His Name alone is exalted (and all human greatness is nothing), (and) His glory is obvious on earth and heaven.”
Here we mention the earth before the heaven. We, who have free choice, are on a higher level in this respect than even the heavenly creations, who have no free choice. They follow the law as mandated and don’t deviate. They have no desires for personal pleasure and have no “life-changing tests” to maintain their function.
We, however, are constantly being tested and must rise to the formidable challenges presented. Our greatness lies in the struggles of life, having to overcome various temptations, desires, and life settings. Most of the struggles that Hashem presents us with are designed to help us grow in ways or degrees we could not have, without the specific setting Hashem has chosen uniquely for us.
Each of us has a life setting that has been designed with precision and infinite wisdom, tailored to our achieving our full potential and unique purpose. For some, their life setting can change dramatically in a moment. As we are all too aware, one’s entire life can change in a moment of a major physical or mental health event, or that of a family member. The same is true financially. In those situations, we are thrust into a new role in life that we never dreamed we would have to face.
Struggling with, maintaining, and ultimately strengthening our emunah and bitachon makes us great. Through the process, we come closer to Hashem than we could possibly have come without the struggles and challenges.
This is why the word “eretz” comes before “shamayim.” Hashem’s “Name” represents His guidance of the world and every aspect of our lives. When we strengthen our trust and reliance on Hashem, despite minor or major challenges, we are in fact “exalting” and bringing glory to Hashem’s Name. Placing the word eretz before shamayim reminds us that we have the opportunity to exalt and glorify Hashem’s Name even more than the heavenly creations. When we exercise our free choice and grow through our struggles, we are “praising” Hashem even more than when the heavenly creations praise Him through their pre-determined and mandated functions.
[based on the sefer T’ruas Melech by Rav Shmuel Laniado, author of the K’li Yakar, the well-known commentary on Chumash]
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