Shavuot Hallel: Paragraph Seven
“Praise God, all nations; praise Him, all the states! For His kindness has overwhelmed us, and the truth of God is eternal, Halleluyah!” (Psalm 117) The Malbim (Psalm 100) explains that “Nations” refers to those who may witness powerful things but do not reflect on what they see. They do not use their experiences to develop their thinking or themselves. The “Nations” will praise the Name of God, without a sense of anything personal.
“The States,” refers to those who reflect on what they see, and consider what they should learn from their experiences. They can relate to “Him,” on a personal level, not just a Name.
This Psalm reflects the influence of our Torah study. When we simply study, without integrating the Torah into our personal development, we will only succeed in speaking to the”Nations,” without inspiring them to reflect and reify what they learn about God.
However, when we approach Torah as Torat Chaim, immediately applicable to our lives, and we apply the Torah’s wisdom to our personal development, we will influence others to respond as “States,” as people who will reflect on the Torah’s lessons and strive for a more personal relationship with God.
We sing this Psalm on Shavuot with rejoicing over the gift of Torah to inspire the world. We pray that our Torah study will create an influence and inspiration for our Torah study to speak to people who will use everything they learn and experience to attach to God.
“Praise God, all nations; praise Him, all the states! For His kindness has overwhelmed us, and the truth of God is eternal, Halleluyah!” (Psalm 117) We pray for the day when all the nations of the earth will acknowledge God’s Kindness in forcing Israel to accept the Torah, for it was only when we accepted the Covenant of Torah that we gave meaning to existence. (Michtam L’David – Rabbi David Sperber)
We sing this short Psalm as our expression of joy that we were given the opportunity to give meaning to Creation. We pray that our Torah study and observance succeed in giving that meaning, and in inspiring others to realize the Infinite kindness of Torah.
“Praise God, all nations; praise Him, all the states! For His kindness has overwhelmed us, and the truth of God is eternal, Halleluyah!” (Psalm 117) We often experience the difficulty for truth and kindness to coexist. A person fighting for truth is usually intolerant of others who disagree. However, we see that the Schools of Shamai and Hillel, although constantly debating “Truth,” were consistently able to coexist in “Kindness.”
This is one of the most precious aspects of the gift of Torah. It demands truth, and yet deals with us through Kindness. It asks that we fight for truth, even while insisting that we always act with Kindness.
Only the Torah can create this perfect balance between Chesed and Emet. (Rabbi Yerucham Levovitz – Da’at Torah)
We sing this Psalm as a celebration of the perfect balance between the Chesed and the Emet of Torah. We pray that our Torah study and observance reflect that magnificent balance in such a beautiful way that we inspire all people to sing of “His Kindness,” and, “His Truth.”