מַה טּבוּ אהָלֶיךָ יַעֲקב מִשְׁכְּנתֶיךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל
Mah tovu ohalekha Ya’akov, mishkenotekha Yisrael.
How goodly are your tents, O JacobLit. heel Jacob is the third patriarch, son of Isaac and Rebecca, and father to the twelve tribes of Israel. More than any of the other patriarchs, Jacob wrestles with God and evolves from a deceitful, deal-making young man to a mature, faithful partner to God. His Hebrew name is Yaakov., your habitations, O IsraelLit. ''the one who struggles with God.'' Israel means many things. It is first used with reference to Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel (Genesis 32:29), the one who struggles with God. Jacob's children, the Jewish people, become B'nai Israel, the children of Israel. The name also refers to the land of Israel and the State of Israel.!
We sing this song “Mah Tovu” in the hopes that we might slow down when encountering the stranger and getA writ of divorce. Traditionally, only a man can grant his wife a get. Liberal Jews have amended this tradition, making divorce more egalitarian. beyond our walls of fear and self-protection to see the humanity of the other with compassion. We sing this song as a prayer that we might all lift up our prophetic voices and turn curses into blessings, that all who search for sanctuary will be embraced in goodness.
For more on this prayer, read “Mah Tovu: Transforming Curses to Blessings in Parshat Balak.”