Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Praises of Nevuchadnezzar

Rav Meir of Premishlan, zt”l, answered an obvious difficulty through a parable. “On the surface the gemara in Sanhedrin 92 is very difficult to understand. We find there that when Nevuchadnezzar said a couple of words of praise to Hashem an angel struck him and had it not done so he would have disgraced the entire book of Tehillim. What could this possibly mean? Even the phrases he chose are a direct translation into Aramaic of two verses from Ashrei which is part of Tehillim? First he said, 'גדול ה' ומהלל מאד ולגדולתו אין חקר', followed by: 'מלכותך מלכות כל עולמים וממשלתך בכל דור ודור'.
“Most difficult of all: How can this rasha who was so steeped in idolatry that he even forced others to worship idols be compared to Dovid who arose at midnight every night to sing Hashem’s praises?
“This can be understood through a parable. Even if one cooks the most delectable dishes in the best manner, he still must be careful where he places them. If he uses a very disgusting vessel to store them in, the vessel will entirely ruin even the best ingredients. The same is true here. Even if a person says the praises sung by Dovid Hamelech, if he is impure—especially one as sullied a Nevuchadnezzar—he degrades the psalms by saying them.
“The angel slapped Nevuchadnezter not because he could somehow outdo Dovid Hamelech. He was slapped so as not to continue dirtying Tehillim with his disgusting mouth!”

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