An Initial Look at mTamid 7.4 (“השיר שהיו הלויים אומרין בבית המקדש”) [Mishnah Monday]
I’ve been curious about our practice of singing/saying a daily psalm, which derives from the final mishnah in Tamid, in which it opens with saying “השיר שהיו הלויים אומרין בבית המקדש” – “The song which the Levites would say in the Holy Temple (or Sanctification House)” and goes on to list a psalm for each day of the week. So, bare with me as I initially look at this mishnah and, hopefully, in future posts will continue to dig further into it.
This opening line already identifies the practice of Levites saying these psalms as having been done in the times of the Sanctification House, but, it seems, were no longer being recited on a daily basis. It almost seems to lament the lack of such a practice in the days of the Mishnah.
Now on to each of the days and their associated psalms which the mishnah connects:
- Sunday – Psalm 24
- Monday – Psalm 48
- Tuesday – Psalm 82
- Wednesday – Psalm 94
- Thursday – Psalm 81
- Friday – Psalm 93
- Saturday – Psalm 92
The first thing that is pops out at the reader should be that the psalms associated with Sunday-Friday are in no way particular to their days; however, Psalm 92, opens with “מִזְמוֹר שִׁיר, לְיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת”, which identifies the psalm as for the day of Shabbat, which works perfectly.
Associations with the Sanctification House, however, seems to be how these psalms got included:
- “מִי-יַעֲלֶה בְהַר-יְהוָה; וּמִי-יָקוּם, בִּמְקוֹם קָדְשׁוֹ” – “Who will ascend upon the mountain of the Lord and who will rise up upon the place of His holiness?” states Psalm 24:3, clearly indicating how that Psalm got on this list
- “גָּדוֹל יְהוָה וּמְהֻלָּל מְאֹד– בְּעִיר אֱלֹהֵינוּ, הַר-קָדְשׁוֹ” – “Great is the Lord God and exceedingly praised; in the city of our god, the mountain of His holiness” states Psalm 48:2 is clear how it got in, as well as other related lines
- “שְׁתוּלִים, בְּבֵית יְהוָה; בְּחַצְרוֹת אֱלֹהֵינוּ יַפְרִיחוּ” – “Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God” states Psalm 92:14, which further bolsters this Psalm for Shabbat for inclusion on this list
While that works for 3 of the 7 days, what about the others? There are a couple of the others that have something roughly close:
- While “אֱלֹהִים, נִצָּב בַּעֲדַת-אֵל; בְּקֶרֶב אֱלֹהִים יִשְׁפֹּט” “God stands in the congregation of God; in the midst of judges, He judges” Psalm 82:1 sort of could be relating to the Sanctification House
- “עֵדֹתֶיךָ, נֶאֶמְנוּ מְאֹד–לְבֵיתְךָ נַאֲוָה-קֹדֶשׁ: יְהוָה, לְאֹרֶךְ יָמִים” – “Your testimonies are very sure, holiness becomes Your house, Lord for many days” in Psalm 93:5, which could also sort of be related to God’s house
Even including the latter two, this still leaves Psalms 81 and 94.
Perhaps, for Psalm 81, it could be suggested that “שְׂאוּ-זִמְרָה, וּתְנוּ-תֹף; כִּנּוֹר נָעִים עִם-נָבֶל” – “Take up the melody , and sound the timbrel, the sweet harp with the psaltery” (Psalm 81:3) and “תִּקְעוּ בַחֹדֶשׁ שׁוֹפָר; בַּכֵּסֶה, לְיוֹם חַגֵּנוּ” – “Blow the horn at the new moon, at the full moon for our feast-day” (Psalm 81:4) could relate to activities taking place in the Sanctification House, more related to its “software” than its “hardware”.
This, of course, leaves Psalm 94 as being left out – why is it included in this list?
Finally, the mishnah concludes, in relation to the psalm for Shabbat, “מזמור שיר לעתיד לבוא, לעולם שכולו שבת מנוחה לחיי העולמים” – “a psalm for the future, for the day that is completely tranquil for all eternity”, which is a pleasant way to end this mishnah, as well as the tractate of Tamid, in general.