In anticipation of the High Holy Days, and during the High Holy Days themselves, Psalm 27 is read twice daily from the beginning of the month of Elul through the holiday of Sukkot in order to help each Jew develop a special relationship with the Divine.

“One thing have I asked of God, one thing do I desire: that I may dwell in the house of God all the days of my life, to behold the graciousness of God, and to visit in His Temple” (Psalms 27:4). This poignant phrase is an expression of the true longing for closeness to God that is reflected in this psalm. While a person may look to God as a protector and a savior (which, indeed, is how God is referred to through much of this psalm), it is critical to also seek out God and to try to be close to Him.

Psalm 27 is attributed to King David, who certainly did not have an easy life (King Saul wanted him dead, David’s own sons rebelled…), and yet King David remained steadfast in his faith in God. With all his troubles, David had the incredible gift of being able to look at his life and recognize the ways in which God protected him. “Had I not believed that I would look upon the goodness of God in the land of the living!–Hope in the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yea, hope in the Lord” (Psalms 27:13-14).

The month of Elul, which begins this Saturday night and Sunday and leads into Rosh Hashana, is a time for reflecting on the wonderful gift of having a relationship with the Divine–and how each person can work to achieve and enhance that relationship.

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