Sign In Forgot Password

PRAYER PING #15

It's hard to notice what's not there. Especially when it has so unassuming a presence to begin with. Which is why the great majority of us have spent little time wondering where Psalm 100, the Psalm of Thanksgiving, disappears to on Shabbat morning. But I'd suggest that it's actually something worth wondering about.

We should begin by asking the fundamental question: Why indeed is this staple of the daily פסוקי דזמרא (P'sukai D'zimra) dropped from our davening on Shabbat?

The official answer is that Psalm 100 was originally composed to accompany the bringing of a קרבן תודה , a Thanksgiving offering in the days of the Temple. And while Thanksgiving offerings were welcome upon the altar six days a week, they were never offered on Shabbat. This was because the offering of animal sacrifices invariably involves numerous activities that are forbidden

on Shabbat (slaughtering, roasting, etc.), and thus only those sacrifices which were mandated for Shabbat (for example, the Shabbat Mussaf offering) were offered on the sacred day. No Thanksgiving offerings were brought in the Temple on Shabbat, thus no Psalm 100 in the פסוקי דזמרא on Shabbat.

The argument is logical enough, yet somehow is not completely satisfying. After all, a Psalm is just a Psalm. No slaughtering or roasting is required. I doubt any of us would have felt not Shabbos-dik were we to recite it in its regular place on Shabbat. What else might be in play here?

Perhaps it was not just the connection to the offering of Thanksgiving that led our tradition to drop Psalm 100 on Shabbat. Perhaps it was the connection to the very gesture of Thanksgiving. For giving thanks to God is one side of a coin, a coin whose other side is making requests of God. Both are manifestations of our underlying neediness and fragility, themes which we tend to eschew on Shabbat (witness the removal of all forms of supplication from the Amidah on Shabbat). For one day out of each seven, we lay aside how much we need God, how much we need to thank God, and just enjoy God's company. Let them rejoice in Your kingship, those who observe Shabbat and call it a delight.

To which I'll add one other thought: This de-emphasis on needing and thanking God on Shabbat, opens the door to our realizing how much we need and ought to thank one another on Shabbat. On Shabbat, when we're not running around and working, we are uniquely dependent on one another. We need one another to form spiritual community, to share meals, to talk to, learn with, sing with, play board games with. Omitting Psalm 100 is the ritual through which we can our hearts to deeply appreciating all of the people who make our Shabbat what it is.

But of course this requires that we take a moment to notice what's not there.

--Rav Yosef

Tue, April 23 2019 18 Nisan 5779