Psalm 23

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The service of Yizkor, the memorial prayer recited four times a year, concludes at my synagogue with the cantor's gentle singing of Psalm 23. We dry our tears, thinking ahead to the joyful procession of the Torah around the sanctuary and back to the Ark. In my mind's eye, at this part of the service, I always see the rolling, green pastures where we have just been led by the hand, and where our burdens and sorrows may be lifted.

The image that stays with me afterwards, however, is of an overflowing goblet, wide and silver, at the head of a long table filled with delicacies—an abundance of goodness amidst the sadness. 

Text:
Psalm 23 

Translation:
1  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 
2  In grass meadows He makes me lie down, by quiet waters guides me. 
3  My life He brings back. He leads me on pathways of justice for His name’s sake. 
4  Though I walk in the vale of death’s shadow, I fear no harm, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff—it is they that console me. 
5  You set out a table before me in the face of my foes. You moisten my head with oil, my cup overflows. 
6  Let but goodness and kindness pursue me all the days of my life. And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for many long days.

Translation: Robert Alter

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