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Tehillim: Psalm 137: The Psalm of Exile I

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, sat and wept, as we thought of Zion (Psalms 137:1).” The placement of this Psalm immediately following the Hallel haGadol, Psalm 136, indicates that if Israel will merit it, it will be able to recite the former, if it will not merit it, it will have to recite this Psalm, lamenting what could have been and what should have been.

We are told in the Zohar that the exiles in Babylon were death like, as zombies, having been brought from a life of great comfort to the depths of deprivation. They refused to accept any attempts to comfort them, to offer them consolation.

This is why God revealed visions to the prophet Ezekiel on the Euphrates, showing him in God and His entourage, in order to convince the exiled Jews that they had not been abandoned by the Divine Presence, and that in fact, the Divine Presence was exiled alongside them, as well as the Angels. These acted as guarantors, the Aravim, of verse 2, that He Cool would free the Angels would also free the Jewish exiles in due course.

When Israel heard all this, it began to regain its composure. This is the background against which we read that the Jews, “sat alongside the rivers of Babylon,” meaning, they are they experienced some degree of relief having been told Ezekiel’s vision.

On the one hand, they rejoiced, but on the other hand, “we cried,” when they fought back to Zion. (Rabbi Moshe Alshich; Romemot El)

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