Tehillim: The Chanukah Psalm: Forgiveness & Torah
“A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David (Psalms 30:1).” Another interpretation of ‘wherefore I praise the dead (Ecclesiastes 4:2),’ is in accordance with Rav Judah’s dictum in Rav’s name, What is meant by, “Show me a token for good, that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed (Psalms 86:17)?
David prayed before the Holy One, blessed be He, ‘Sovereign of the Universe! Forgive me for that sin (with Batsheva)!”
‘It is forgiven,’ replied He.
‘Show me a token in my lifetime,’ he entreated.
‘In your lifetime I will not make it known,’ He answered, ‘but I will make it known in the lifetime of your son Solomon.’ For when Solomon built the Temple, he desired to take the Ark into the Holy of Holies, whereupon the gates clung to each other. Solomon uttered twenty-four prayers (In Solomon’s prayer [I Kings VIII, 23-53] expressions of entreaty, song, prayer; and supplication occur twenty-four times), yet he was not answered.
He opened [his mouth] and exclaimed, ‘Lift up your heads, O you gates; and be you lifted up, you everlasting doors: And the King of glory shall come in (Psalm 24:7).”
They rushed upon him to swallow him up, crying, ‘Who is the King of glory?’
‘The Lord, strong and mighty (Verse 8),’ Solomon answered.
Then he repeated, ‘Lift up your heads, O you gates; Yea, lift them up, you everlasting doors: and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah (Verse 9),’ yet he was not answered.
But as soon as he prayed, ‘O Lord God, turn not away the face of Your anointed, remember the good deeds of David, Your servant (II Chronicles 6:42),’ he was immediately answered.
In that hour the faces of all David’s enemies turned black like the bottom of a pot (in shame), and all Israel knew that the Holy One, blessed be He, had forgiven David that sin. (Shabbat 30a)
Rabbeinu Menachem haMeiri (Megilah 9b) explains that it is only when the Ark is in the Holy of Holies that the laws prohibiting Bamot, Altars that were not the Mizbeiach, both for individuals, and the Bamah Gedolah of the entire nation, took effect. Since the Ark would only enter the Holy of Holies for the sake of King David, it is as if he consecrated the Beit HaMikdash.
The Beit Hamikdash was completed with a sign of God forgiving King David’s sin with Batsheva, so that we would understand that it is a place of forgiveness.
That forgiveness, is associated with the Ark: Torah.
Kavanah: We must approach the Beit Hamikdash, and for us, our prayers, with an awareness of the forgiveness possible for those who study Torah.