Tzarah - When Times are Tight
by Lois Tverberg
When we are are in distress, in our English, we use many vivid physical images to describe it, like feeling crushed, low, burdened, or weighed down with our troubles. We picture ourselves as if we are carrying a heavy object that is pushing down on us.
Interestingly, in Hebrew, adifferent picture is used for the same idea of affliction. The word for distress is tzar or tzarah, and it also means "narrow" or "tight." The picture is that of being hemmed in, squeezed, or trapped with no options. Often King David speaks about being pressed (tzarah) by his enemies. When God gives relief, rahav, the word literally means widening. For instance, in this translation of Psalm 4 it says:
There is an interesting verse that uses this image. In Isaiah 63, it says that when God's people were afflicted (tzar), he himself was afflicted (tzar). God wasn't just sitting back, comfortably in heaven while his people were in distress. As his people were squeezed, God was feeling squeezed too! God feels our distress and our worries, he doesn't just shake his finger at how little faith we have. He is always intimately near, caring for us in our troubles more than we can ever realize.
| ©2005 Lois A. Tverberg, Ph.D., OurRabbiJesus.com. All rights
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