One of my favorite psalms is Psalm 27, which is read daily from the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul (the Hebrew month before Rosh Hashanah, this month!) until the end of the Holy Days cycle. The message of the psalm (the words can be found below in HaMadrich) reflects our reciprocal loving relationship with God. The Hebrew letters comprising the word Elul is an acronym for this sentence from the Song of Songs in the Hebrew Bible: Ani L’Dodi v’Dodi Li (alef, lamed, vav, lamed), I am my Beloved and my Beloved is Mine.
Psalm 27 begins with this beautiful declaration: Adonai, God, is my light and my life. Whom shall I fear?
The season of teshuvah, repentance, is forgiveness. We know we have made mistakes, we know we have hurt people – sometimes intentionally, more often accidentally – and we know that from time to time we have failed morally and ethically. We didn’t always do the right thing in our relationships with other nor in our relationship with the Divine. Yet in our quest to make amends and right wrongs, we are assured by Psalm 27 that the Holy Light will light our way, that we have God’s love, and that metaphorically speaking God has our back. Therefore whom shall we fear?
During this first week of Elul, which actually began Sunday, reflect on what corrections you need to make, and who needs to hear your words of regret and apology. Acknowledging your errors is the first step.
May you begin the work of teshuvah and find your way to forgiveness.
Rabbi Debbie Israel
A Psalm of David
Adonai is my light and my help. Whom shall I fear?
Adonai is the strength of my life. Whom shall I dread?
When evildoers draw near to slander me
When foes threaten – they stumble and fall.
Though armies be arrayed against me, I have no fear.
Though wars threaten, I remain steadfast in my faith.
One thing I ask of Adonai – for this I yearn:
To dwell in the House of Adonai all the days of my life –
to behold God’s beauty, to pray in God’s sanctuary.
Hiding me in God’s shrine, safe from peril,
God will shelter me beyond the reach of disaster,
And raise my head high above my enemies.
Adonai, hear my voice when I call;
Be gracious to me, and answer.
It is You whom I seek, says my heart.
It is your presence that I see, Adonai.
Do not hide from me; do not reject your servant.
You have always been my help; do not abandon me.
Forsake me not, my God of deliverance.
Though my father and my mother leave me,
Adonai will care for me.
Teach me your way, Adonai.
Guide me on the right path, to confound my oppressors.
Do not abandon me to the will of my foes,
for false witnesses have risen against me,
purveyors of malice and lies.
Yet I have faith that I shall surely see
Adonai’s goodness in the land of the living.
Hope in Adonai.
Be strong, take courage, and hope in Adonai.