Perek Shira – Chapter 2

יוֹם אוֹמֵר יוֹם לְיוֹם יַבִּיעַ אֹמֶר וְלַיְלָה לְּלַיְלָה יְחַוֶּה דָּעַת

The day says, “Day to day utters speech, and night to night relates knowledge.” (Psalms 19:3)

The Midrash Tanchuma on parshas Mishpatim explains that everything in creation borrows from one another. Day borrows time from the night, and vice versa, but they don’t file complaints in court as people do, as verse 19:4 continues, “There is no speech and there are no words….”

לַיְלָה אוֹמֵר לְהַגִּיד בַּבֹּקֶר חַסְדֶּךָ וֶאֱמוּנָתְךָ בַּלֵילוֹת

The night says, “To tell of his kindness in the morning and of his faithfulness in the nights.” (Psalms 92:3)

According to Brachos 12a, this verse is the source of the practice to follow Shema with “emes v’yatziv” (true and firm) by day, and with “emes ve’emunah” (true and trustworthy) at night.

שֶׁמֶשׁ אוֹמֵר שֶׁמֶשׁ יָרֵחַ עָמַד זְבֻלָה לְאוֹר חִצֶּיךָ יְהַלֵּכוּ לְנֹגַהּ בְּרַק חֲנִיתֶּךָ

The sun says, “The sun (and) the moon stand still in their habitation; they go at the light of Your arrows, at the shining of Your glittering spear.” (Chavakuk 3:11)

The Targum Yonason explains that this refers to the battle of Gibeon (Joshua chapter 10), in which God caused the sun to stand still – a great display of His might!

יָרֵחַ אוֹמֶרֶת עָשָׂה יָרֵחַ לְמוֹעֲדִים שֶׁמֶשׁ יָדַע מְבוֹאוֹ

The moon says, “He made the moon for the appointed times; the sun knows (the time of) its setting.” (Psalms 104:19)

The Aruch HaShulchan (OC 426:2) explains that we bless the moon more than we do the stars because of its proximity to Earth. It inspires in us a feeling for God’s greatness since its path and phases are perceptible throughout the month.

כּוֹכָבִים אוֹמְרִים אַתָּה הוּא יי לְבַדֶּךָ אַתָּה עָשִׂיתָ אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם שְׁמֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם וְכָל צְבָאָם הָאָרֶץ וְכָל אֲשֶׁר עָלֶיהָ הַיַּמִּים וְכָל אֲשֶׁר בָּהֶם וְאַתָּה מְחַיֶּה אֶת כֻּלָּם וּצְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם לְךָ מִשְׁתַּחֲוִים

The stars say, “You are Hashem; You alone. You made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host; the earth, and all that is upon it; the seas, and all that is in them. You preserve them all and the host of heaven bow down to You.” (Nehemiah 9:6)

The Ralbag explains that when a human being makes something, the creation no longer requires the creator’s attention. God’s creations are not this way. As long as we exist, we rely upon Him in order to endure.

עָבִים אוֹמְרִים יָשֶׁת חֹשֶׁךְ סִתְרוֹ סְבִיבוֹתָיו סֻכָּתוֹ חֶשְׁכַת מַיִם עָבֵי שְׁחָקִים

The thick clouds say, “He made darkness his secret place, His booth around Him; the darkness of waters and thick clouds of the skies.” (Psalms 18:12)

In parshas Bo, God tells Moshe to stretch his hand heavenward to trigger the plague of darkness. Where did this darkness come from? Shemos Rabbah cites the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda, that the darkness came from this “booth” that metaphorically envelops God.

עַנְנֵי כָּבוֹד אוֹמְרִים אַף בְּרִי יַטְרִיחַ עָב יָפִיץ עֲנַן אוֹרוֹ

The clouds of glory say, “He also burdens the thick cloud with moisture; He scatters His storm cloud.” (Job 37:11)

The first two words of this verse in Hebrew are “af b’ri”; Rashi tells us that this is the name of the angel in charge of the clouds. (Another meaning of “af” in Hebrew is anger; another meaning of “b’ri” is health. This is indicative of the two ways God can send us rain, depending on what we deserve.)

רוּחַ אוֹמֵר אֹמַר לַצָּפוֹן תֵּנִי וּלְתֵימָן אַל תִּכְלָאִי הָבִיאִי בָנַי מֵרָחוֹק וּבְנוֹתַי מִקְצֵה הָאָרֶץ

The wind says, “I will say to the north, ‘Give,’ and to the south, ‘Do not withhold. Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth.’” (Isaiah 43:6)

The Talmud in Menachos (110a) says that “sons” in the verse refers to those exiled to Babylonia, while “daughters” refers to those exiled to other lands. (Babylonia was the post-exile center of Torah, and Torah-study was the occupation of sons rather than of daughters.)

בְּרָקִים אוֹמְרִים בְּרָקִים לַמָּטָר עָשָׂה מוֹצֵא רוּחַ מֵאוֹצְרוֹתָיו

The lightning bolts say, “…He makes lightning bolts for the rain; He brings forth wind from his storehouses.” (Psalms 135:7)

The Malbim explains that when God wants to make it rain, He separates electricity from the clouds in the form of lightning. Through this, He takes wind from His storehouses. He separates the essence of the wind in the form of steam, making it rain. (This is a spiritual rather than a scientific description of the process.)

טַל אוֹמֵר אֶהְיֶה כַטַּל לְיִשְׂרָאֵל יִפְרַח כַּשּׁוֹשַׁנָּה וְיַךְ שָׁרָשָׁיו כַּלְּבָנוֹן

The dew says, “I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a rose and he will spread his roots like the Lebanon.” (Hoshea 14:6)

The Talmud in Taanis 4a says that the Jews likened their relationship with God to the rain. God replied, “I’ll do you one better! Rain is sometimes desirable, but not always. I will be to you like the dew, which is always a blessing!”

גְּשָׁמִים אוֹמְרִים גֶּשֶׁם נְדָבוֹת תָּנִיף אֱלֹהִים נַחֲלָתְךָ וְנִלְאָה אַתָּה כוֹנַנְתָּהּ

The rains say, “Generous rain You poured down, God; You established Your inheritance, which was weary.” (Psalms 68:10)

The ibn Ezra clarifies that God’s “inheritance” is the land of Israel, to which He always pays attention. When the land is metaphorically weary, God sustains it.