In the month of Elul we begin a daily reading of Psalm 27 in the morning and again in the afternoon or evening. The Psalm is aa powerful declaration of Teshuva / Repentance , whose words reverberate in the very air we breath in this land at this very special time.
During this ELUL time period the Shorashim study center will try to present an ongoing study and exploration of the layers of meaning found in these words of king David.
We read the following in verse 1
The powerful psalm begins with these words;
Of David. Hashem ( the Lord) is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear( MiMee IRAH) ? Hashem is the stronghold of my life; from whom shall I be frightened ( MiMee EFCHAD)?”
There are two types of fear we need to contend with in our lives.
The fear of the things we know and dread.That is represented by the word IRAH.
The fear of those things we don’t know and are fearful of that unknown.That is represented by the word EFCHAD.
That is the subtext of this cry of David.
The fears we know overwhelm us until they are taken into the bright light of Hashem. Suddenly they are brought back into context. Suddenly they are not as scary when we see them in its proper well illuminated context. “Hashem ( the Lord) is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear( MiMee IRAH) ? “
The fears of the unknown cannot be brought into context because we cannot even begin to define them. At times like this what we can depend on with assurance is resting under G-d’s wings. taking refuge in His fortress. that is its only context.”Hashem is the stronghold of my life; from whom shall I be frightened ( MiMee EFCHAD)?”
it is with these words that King David begins to explore and contend with the dangers that surround him. Words of instruction for us all.
We read the following in verse 2
We read the following
When evildoers ( MiRayim) draw near ( Alai) to me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies against me-they stumbled and fell.( psalm 27:3)
On the simple and literally level (pshat) the meaning is consistent with overall theme of this psalm of asking for Hashem’s protection from enemies that want to do harm.
What is fascinating is that the words translated as “evil doers ( MiRayim) is a whisper of another translation..
MiRaim can be read as “those of my friends( Rayim) ”
Furthermore, the word translated as draw near (ALAI) actually translates as “Over me).
Perhaps King David is also asking for Hashem’s help in protecting him from the evil designs of those that claim to be friends.
They come close but are really just interested to come above him ( alav) to do him harm. They want to devour his flesh, that is to say they want to acquire and control his physical essence.
Yet Hashem makes them stumble…
and in the confusion of their stumbling in the midst of their plan. these so called friends fall and fail.
May Hashem protect us from the murderous designs of the haters and the covetous wishes of those claiming to be our friends
We read the following in verse 3
3 If a camp encamps against me, my heart shall not fear; if a war should rise up against me, in this I trust
the message on its simple PSHAT menaing is pwerful. Though the enemy comes close and threatens me my heart shall not fear. King Davis says further If the enemy comes to war against me I have trust.
The question that needs to be aske is when King David says ” in this I trust”, what exactly is the THIS.On one level it could be reverting to the first verse in the psalm ” Hashem is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Hashem is the stronghold of my life; from whom shall I be frightened?”
Yet perhaps it is referring to the verse that comes immediately following;
One [thing] I ask of Hashem , that I seek-that I may dwell in the house of Hashem all the days of my life”.
How does that elicit trust and a sense of safety?
It is all about yearning. The greatest spiritual force in the Universe is yearning. The world and reality is built along a framework where perfection is displayed and then hidden, where paradise is revealed then lost. The Garden of Eden is revealed and then lost. Man and Woman are created as one and then they are separated. G-d reveals Himself in all His power and Glory during the Exodus in Egypt, and then goes into hiding. The First and Second temples are built and experienced, and then they are lost.
It is that spiritual force of yearning that fixes the world and restores it to its purpose. G-d created a reality that would provide need and imperfection and therefore fire up the yearning to restore the world to perfection.
It is that deep yearning that David reveals that may be the source of his trust. If I yearn for holiness then it shall become real in my life
“Where is G-d to be found?”, the Rebbe of Kotzk asked. His answer was that “He is found in the place where He is given entry.” Yearning opens that door
We read the following in verse 4;
“ One thing I ask of Hashem , that I seek-that I may dwell in the house of Hashem all the days of my life, to see the pleasantness of Hashem and to ( Levaker) to visit His Temple every morning.(Psalm 27:4)
The word levaker means to contemplate but it also means to visit.
The Hassidic masters ask” If King David was asking to dwell in the house of Hashem all the days of his life, why would he also ask to visit His Temple every morning?
They respond that what King David was truly asking for, was to dwell before Hashem’s Presence all the days of his life..
… but to never lose the awe of a visitor.: