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Tehillim 44:2 – The unholy out of the Holy

Wednesday 9 Adar 5783 – 1 Maart 2023

Tehillim – Psalm 44:2

אֱ”לֹהִ֤ים ׀ בְּאׇזְנֵ֬ינוּ שָׁמַ֗עְנוּ אֲבוֹתֵ֥ינוּ סִפְּרוּ־לָ֑נוּ פֹּ֥עַל פָּעַ֥לְתָּ בִ֝ימֵיהֶ֗ם בִּ֣ימֵי קֶֽדֶם׃

Elokim, we heard with our own ears; our fathers told us what they had heard from their fathers. They told us of all the wonderful deeds You did in their days, in the days of old, when they entered the Land of Israel for the first time.

The text surprised me; my expectation was that it would be about receiving the Torah. Which was also passed down from father to son, from teacher to student, from rabbi to his congregation. An unbroken chain of lore. Perhaps the answer lies in the Name used for G-d. In giving the Torah, the name Hashem was used, while here it is Elokim.

Elokim is connected to creation, to nature. We can see this connection by looking at the gematria of both words, among other things. Elokim has the numerical value of 86 which has the same gematria as the Hebrew word “ha’teva” – הטבה – nature.

But then the question arises, why is reference made to the deeds that G-d did when one entered the land and why is reference not made back to the miracles that G-d did in Egypt, instinctively they were much greater, because those miracles/plagues corresponded to the ten statements that G-d made when He created the world. It was a demonstration of His Omnipotence that Pharaoh denied. Pharaoh saw himself as a god and the Egyptians themselves believed in many gods, each with its own power and strength. Each plague corresponded to the various elements that G-d created in the world, each demonstrating that a seemingly stable and independent aspect of creation – something that could easily be attributed to “nature” – was entirely in G-d’s hands. Thus, each plague proved that G-d is the true, omnipotent Creator.

Consider, for example, the first plague of water turning into blood. It shows that G-d rules over the water. And so there is a link to each plague with 1 of the 10 Divine statements of creation.

When Israel entered the land, other peoples lived there, peoples who, despite having heard of all the miracles in Egypt, continued to believe in their own idols. That made it impossible for them to continue living in the Holy Land.

But still doesn’t answer the question of why these miracles, the miracles of conquering the land, are specifically mentioned now.

Perhaps it has to do with the order. Looking at Egypt, the holy moved away from the unholy, now in the land it was actually the other way around. The unholy had to depart from the holy. That is a more difficult process.

What can we learn from this?

If I look at myself, leaving Egypt, leaving my old life, that was not so difficult. HaShem always made me feel that something was not right there. When the time was right, He protected me, got me out of there and put me in touch with His Torah, with the 7 Noachid Laws. But that is only the beginning, a starting point of a new incredibly wonderful journey. A journey with peaks, valleys and even higher peaks and vistas. But also a place where, in that new land, in the new “I” must be worked to improve oneself according to His will. To seek what needs to be removed, reduced or strengthened. That is a more difficult process, but one in which He will also surely help.

By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources: Why the Need for All 10 Plagues? en “Psalms 4 That.

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