Rabbi Diane Elliot noted, a few posts back, her practice of taking “the time to work with a word or a phrase” from the prayers and then using that “backstory” when returning to the same prayer in other settings (“Wordless Verses“). Abraham Joshua Heschel also wrote, addressing fellow rabbis in 1953, about the importance of spending time with individual words in the prayers:
We must learn how to study the inner life of the words that fill the world of our prayerbook….A word has a soul, and we must learn how to attain insight into its life….We forgot how to find the way to the word, how to be on intimate terms with a few passages in the prayerbook. Familiar with all the words, we are intimate with none.
— “The Spirit of Prayer” (citation)
One of the many words and phrases worth pausing to consider in Psalm 30 is “glory” —
לְמַעַן, יְזַמֶּרְךָ כָבוֹד– וְלֹא יִדֹּם
יְהוָה אֱלֹהַי, לְעוֹלָם אוֹדֶךָּ
So that my glory may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent;
O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto Thee for ever.
— Ps. 30:13 (1917 JPS translation; others below)
Translating “Glory,” Part 1
To begin, it is usually instructive to notice where translators vary in rendering a particular phrase. Verse 13 yields a lot of variety. Here is a selection of Jewish translations, offered in reverse chronological order:
- that I might sing of Your glory and not be silent:
ADONAI my God, I thank You, always
— Rabbinical Assembly, Siddur Lev Shalem, 2016
- that my soul may sing Your praises and never cease.
I will acknowledge You forever, LORD my God.
— R. Eli Cashdan, Koren Tehillim, 2015
- So that my depths might sing out to you and never be stilled,
God, my Help, I will spill out gratitude to you forever.
— Pamela Greenberg, The Complete Psalms, 2010
- Therefore my glory will sing praise to You, and will not be silent.
O Lord, my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
— The Jerusalem Commentary, Mosad Harav Kook, 2003 (see note)
- that I might sing praise to You. I will not be silent!
Adonai my God, I will laud you forever!
— My People’s Prayer Book, Lawrence Hoffman (ed) 2001
- That I might sing Your praises unceasingly,
that I might thank You, Adonai my God, forever
— R. Jules Harlow 1985 trans, adapted for Or Hadash 1998
- that [my] whole being might sing hymns to You endlessly;
O LORD my God, I will praise You forever.
— JPS 1985 (via Sefaria); 1917 JPS (via Mechon-Mamre) is above
NOTES from The Jerusalem Commentary (source #4 above):
“The expression ‘glory will sing, praise to You, and will not be silent,’ implies that the silence of grief will be turned into a song of gladness, and thus this verse is a continuation of what was stated in the previous verse, ‘You loosened my sackcloth…’
“Some commentaries explain the word כָּבוֹד, kavod, to mean ‘I myself,’ like כְּבוֹדִי, k’vodi.” [cf. commentary on 7:6 where note explains that “my glory” or “my honor,” like “my soul,” means just plain, “me.”]
So, we have kavod translated as:
- whole being, and
- just plain “I.”
15 of 30 on Psalm 30
As a National Novel Writing Month Rebel, I write each day of November while not aiming to produce a novel. This year I focus on Psalm 30 (“Thirty on Psalm 30”) in the hope that its powerful language will help us through these days of turmoil and toward something new, stronger and more joyful, as individuals and as community. Whole series (so far)…. apologies to anyone who finds multiple-post days too much.
“The Spirit of Prayer” was published in the Proceedings of the Rabbinical Assembly of America [Conservative], Vol. XVII, 1953, and reprinted as a pamphlet. Eventually (1996), the lecture was included in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity (See Source Materials)