Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Like A Deer bleats (Bells)

Odds are we have all sung the psalm 42 during a Seduah Shelisit: 

As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.
כְּאַיָּל תַּעֲרֹג עַל אֲפִיקֵי מָיִם, כֵּן נַפְשִׁי תַעֲרֹג אֵלֶיךָ אֱלֹהִים. ג צָמְאָה נַפְשִׁי לֵאלֹהִים לְאֵל חָי מָתַי אָבוֹא, וְאֵרָאֶה פְּנֵי

the Hebrew word תערג is normally translated as "LONGS", and that is the common usage of it. The most famous use of the word appears in the sabbath song sung in most communities on shabbat, Anim Zemirot:
אנעים זמירות ושירים אארוג, כי אליך נפשי תערוג. 

However does the word תערג actually mean "LONG?"
Rashi on tehilim has the following explanation for תערג:
לשון ערג נופל על קול האיל כאשר יפול לשון נהם לארי ושקוק לדוב וגעה לשוורים וצפצוף לעופות".

"the word OREG means the sound of a deer, much as a Lion Roars and a bear (growls?) __ and bulls bellow and birds tweet"

The same explanation is given by radak and Metzodat tzion. A dog barks, a deer OREGS. According to wikipedia the sound a deer makes in English is called "Bells". This changes the meaning of tehilim, in that we are not longing for god, but rather describing the passion with which we will sing to him.  I'm not sure most people would sing quite as passionately if they understood that they are saying that they wish to bleet like a deer to god, and yet that is what they are saying. 

For anyone wondering what a deer sounds like, I found these Youtube videos. I suspect the second one is closer to what the Tehillim had in mind:

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