- Praise Him with the blowing of the shofar (which calls us to be closer to Hashem), (and) praise Him with a multi-stringed neivel and harp (that inspire meditation).
- Praise Him with a tambourine and dance (that accompany public exultation of Hashem), (and) praise Him with an organ and flute (for the quieter rejoicing of the individual).
- Praise Him with resounding cymbals (which call whole groups to attentive participation), (and) praise Him with cymbals that make a t’ruah sound (which stir emotions within our hearts).
- (And beyond all instruments,) every soul itself should praise Hashem (for He created them), (and especially Yisrael should) praise Hashem (for His tremendous kindnesses to us)!
In a previous segment, we mentioned how song without words is actually a higher level of praise than words. Words are limiting. Music can elicit emotions from within our souls, and those emotions can lead us to an even higher realm of praise of Hashem than words could ever reach.
One of the messages of this mizmor is that even after all the praises offered to Hashem throughout Sefer T’hilim, there is much more that cannot be put into words. In fact, we can never exhaust praise of Hashem. However, the deep emotions that are inspired by music stir within us higher heights of serving Hashem. Music was prominent in the Beis HaMikdash as part of the service to Hashem.
The musical instruments mentioned in p’sukim 3-5 inspire different types of emotions.
The shofar is the sound of royalty (of Hashem), but it is also sounds an alarm leading to trepidation (Amos 3:6). The harp (kinor) inspires meditation. These are designed to bring us closer to Hashem in different ways.
The tambourine and dance (tof u’machol) accompany public exaltation of Hashem in conjunction with others. The organ and flute (minim v’ugav) express the quieter rejoicing of an individual.
The cymbals (tziltz’lei shama) are instruments of ear-splitting sound that call entire groups to attentive participation.
Every emotion has its place in the service of Hashem. To name but a few: fear, awe, love, joy, sadness, anger (at the enemies of Hashem and at the yeitzer ha’ra), humility, gratitude, loyalty, and yearning (to come close to Hashem). The musical instruments mentioned are symbols of using the vast range of our emotions in our service to Hashem and in coming closer to Him.
These various emotions are also brought forth more prominently during specific periods of life that we journey through. To illustrate: We have times of immense joy and times of deep sadness, times of great growth and times of stagnation, times of serenity and peace of mind and times of confusion and challenge, times of excellent health and vibrancy and times of poor health and fatigue.
One meaning of repeating the last pasuk is that, regardless of what stage of life we are in and what our current emotions may be, we still praise Hashem with every breath. To paraphrase Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch:
Let every breath hear, recognize, sense, and perceive Hashem in all things that life may bring. In the serious introspection of solemn moments, as well as pensive meditation, in the widespread rejoicing of public jubilation, as well as in the quiet serenity of inner happiness, in the unexpectedness of great surprise, as well as in the stirring force of profound emotions, kol ha’neshamah t’hallel Kah – let all souls praise Hashem.
(mostly based on The Hirsch Tehillim)
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