Psalm 134

How do you bless God? The question emerges from the opening call in Psalm 134 for all servants of God to do so. We have a similar call to bless God at the start of our services and Torah blessings. Those liturgical texts, such as our Lev Shalem Siddur, often translate the word barchu as praise when applied to God. For people we keep the word as blessing and link it to the other two uses of the Hebrew root, knee and pool of water- identified with humility and the gift of life. Surely, to bless God also evokes humility and identification with the gift of life, which accompanies our praise of God.

Psalm 134 concludes the fifteen Psalms of Ascent. As the others, pilgrimage to the Temple is a suggested context, along with the role of the Levite as the potential composer and the darkness of night as an evocative time for reflection on God.

Join me for a close reading of this three-verse Psalm.

Dedicated to Esther Dosick, our CBI ritual co-chair

Verse 2 of the psalm, written above the sink used for ritual hand washing at the Beit El yeshiva, Old City, Jerusalem