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A song of Ascents
1 When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
- we were like men who dreamed.
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
- our tongues with songs of joy.
- Then it was said among the nations,
- "The LORD has done great things for them."
3 The LORD has done great things for us,
- and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
- like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow in tears
- will reap with songs of joy.
6 He who goes out weeping,
- carrying seed to sow,
- will return with songs of joy,
- carrying sheaves with him.
-Psalm 126, New International Version
- Is sung in an upbeat, fast, joyous manner before Birkat Hamazon (the Grace After Meals) on Shabbat, Jewish Holidays, Rosh Chodesh, Chol Hamoed, and by some on other days in which Tachanun is not recited. While fourteen psalms actually begin with the words "Shir Hama'alot" (Song of Ascents), this psalm is commonly referred to as "Shir Hama'alot" due to this common use.
- Is recited following Mincha between Sukkot and Shabbat Hagadol.
- Was repeatedly considered to become the national anthem of the State of Israel ultimately being passed over for Hatikvah.
This is a song of joy and of thanks to God. The thanks is reflected in its third verse, "The LORD has done great things for us". But this is overshadowed by the joyousness of the author. The author is gleeful to return to Zion.
In many areas the people who are going out to sow are starving. The only food they could possibly have is the seeds they kept for sowing. The people literally cry when they place their only food in the ground because they know they will receive the harvest. Vs. 5 and 6 are stating that when we give sacrificially to the point of the last portion, God will be faithful to bring in the bountiful harvest. It also shows that those who plan for the future, will be rewarded.
Verses 5 and 6 were used by Brahms in the first movement of A German Requiem.
- The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 530
- Jeffay, Nathan (3 April 2012). "Israelis Divided Over Changing Anthem". Jewish Daily Forward (Forward.com). Retrieved 18 November 2013.
- Gottesman, Ariella (31 May 2011). "Hatikvah: The Impossible Dream". Israel National News (Arutz Sheva). Retrieved 18 November 2013.
- Psalm 126 at biblegateway.com