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Psalm 120

The Songs of Ascents (Psalms 120-135) are a relatively easy climb as each are short. The Mishnah states that this group of Psalms were sung by the Levites as people alighted the fifteen steps to the Temple Mount (Midot 2:5; Sukkah 51b). Others say more broadly that these Psalms were sung by pilgrims during the three-annual-holiday marches upward to Jerusalem. Others say that the “ascents” was actually a musical notation for increasing loudness or pitch.

Psalm 120 focuses on the dangers of slander with the closing statement by the Psalmist, “I am peace.” Peace in this context is both the ability to get along with others and an inner tranquility that allows for closeness to God. Although only seven verses long, commentators read divergent and perhaps simultaneously true understandings. The Psalm contains a Biblically unique word “O’yah,” commonly translated as “Woe” is me. In my translation below, I instead use the word “Oy” for me. Even though “Oy” is rooted in old German, I am left to wonder about the even earlier verbal association.

Please join me for this first Psalm of Ascents

Our learning is dedicated to Rabbi Ariel Sholklapper