Beit Midrash

  • Sections
  • Small and Sweet Ideas
To dedicate this lesson



Rabbi Avraham (Abe) Abrahami

Cheshvan 5779
On Musaf Shabbat before Birkhat Cohanim and "Sim Shalom", at the end of the Amida (silent prayer) we recite:
"And all life forms shall thank You Selah and praise Your Name, O’ Mighty God of our salvation and help, blessed are you…"

But what does Selah mean?

Selah is a word used over 70 times in the Hebrew Bible – mostly in Tehilim (71) or Psalms and several times (3) in the book of Habakkuk. The exact source and meaning of the word are not exactly known, though various interpretations are given below.
We inherited this text from the sages of the Great Assembly 1 (Kenesset Hagdola), who based on earlier versions of the Amida, instituted these words in our standardised prayers of today.

Selah should not be confused with a similar Hebrew word Sela, which means "rock", although the G-d f Israel is compared in some places to a mighty, solid and eternal rock.
In instances, however, the word used is Tzur.
An example of this is after we recite Haftarah, when we day;
…Tzur Kol Ha’Olamim… - rock/foundation stone for eternity/all the worlds…

In most cases in Psalms, the word Selah is taken to mean eternity, forever, Amen/confirmation, solid validity, cast iron/absolute guarantee, uninterrupted consistency etc.

In the Babylnian Talmud , tractate Eruvin (54:1) - R’ Eliezer Ben Yaakov say that Selah means forever and ever and without a break – eternally continuous and consistent.

The Aramaic Targum also interprets Selah to mean for eternity and consistent for all times.

The Radak and Malbim hold that the word Selah is used as a musical note or a word to punctuate a specific spot in the verse or the end of the verse, which the Levites sang in the Temple.
This fascinating explanation does not necessarily preclude the other explanations given above.

Finally, Selah stands in Hebrew for the acronym used in music and singing, as follows:
S iman L eharamt H akol – a sign to raise the voice.
Another possible acronym is: S iman L e’Hamenazeah – a sign to/for the conductor.
Both explanations sit nicely with Radak and the Malbim .


^ 1.An assembly of 120 scribes, sages, and prophets, in the Jerusalem Temple, during period from the end of the Biblical prophets since the early Second Temple period to the early Hellenistic period (c. 323 BCE)
את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר