Zev Shandalov

A Twist on Tehillim

At the beginning of Psalm 121 it says: שִׁיר לַמַּעֲלוֹת אֶשָּׂא עֵינַי אֶל־הֶהָרִים מֵאַיִן יָבֹא עֶזְרִי:   עֶזְרִי מֵעִם יְהֹוָה עֹשֵֹה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ (“I lift up my eyes to the mountains, from where will come my salvation? My salvation will come from Hashem, the Creator of heaven and Earth.”) This is the traditional translation and the traditional punctuation.

Yet, it occurs to me that there may be a different approach to these words by changing the meaning of one word. Rather than this being a QUESTION with an ANSWER, both psukim are statements of faith. Instead of the word מֵאַיִן having the connotation of “from where,” perhaps it  actually refers to something else: When G-d created the world, He did what no other can do: He created ex nihilo, meaning “something from nothing.” In Hebrew, that is known as יש מֵאַיִן .

I would like to suggest that this Pasuk can be interpreted as meaning: “I lift my eyes up to the mountain, my salvation is coming from the One Who created מאין…out of nothing!” We follow up with the next pasuk where we say that this salvation comes from the Creator of the heavens and Earth–because that was the quintessential creation of יש מאין! 

So, rather than a question being asked and answered, we are stating a fact…we are stating an “article of faith.”

May He Who created all that exists continue to send us this much needed עזרה !

About the Author
After living in Chicago for 50 years, the last 10 of which Zev Shandalov served as a shul Rav and teacher in local Orthodox schools, his family made Aliya to Maale Adumim in July 2009. Shandalov currently works as a teacher, mostly interacting with individual students.