Wednesday, February 02, 2011

In Praise of the Metzudah Tehillim

I like English translations of Torah works. I don't need them as much as I enjoy their company. There's a lot to say on this subject, which I won't say now. Recently I've been giving pause to my tendency to share. Someone spoke and I listened. Anyway, here's a bit of thought about me and my translated seforim.

When I came back from my first study stint in Israel (my gap half year) I walked around with a linear Rashi all the time. I remember my dentist's wife and secretary (one person) consoling my mother (OBM) saying that if I was still using the linear I hadn't flipped out.

At some point I went through the whole Metzudah linear Tehillim. It went through the wash in the pocket of my pants. Most of my notes faded out. But I still remember that book fondly as one of my favorites.

On Chapter 30 that book includes this footnote on the word delitani, used early in that psalm, which I think about often: "My downtrodden state was the cause of my salvation, proclaims David, just as when one lowers a bucket (deli) into a well in order to bring up the water."

Tehillim 27:10 came to mind for me in 1991 when Dylan gave his acceptance speech for his lifetime achievement award. He said, "Well, my daddy, he didn't leave me much, you know he was a very simple man, but what he did tell me was this: He did say, 'Son,' he said - he said, 'You know it's possible to become so defiled in this world that your own father and mother will abandon you and if that happens,
G-d will always believe in your ability to mend your ways.'"

Since then I've seen others point out that this seems to be Dylan's inspiration from what he says his father told him. Ronnie Schreiber, as quoted by Martin Grossman says that when Dylan said that little speech he turned to his wife and said that Dylan was referencing the Psalms. Grossman, as well as Seth Rogovoy (author of a book on Judaism in Dylan's work) contend that Dylan's wording matches the phrasing of the Metzudah Tehillim. The editor/translator of this work, Rabbi Avrohom Davis, quotes Rabbi S.R. Hirsch's paraphrasing of this line, "Even if I were so depraved that my own father and mother would abandon me to my own devices, G-d would still gather me up and believe in my ability to mend my ways."

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