Psalm 27

Why is this psalm an important part of the spiritual preparation for the High Holidays?

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For us, this is ideal preparation. Before we can approach repentance or the joy of the Holiday, we must honestly confront again our own faith and belief. Ever since our father Abraham, we have anticipated the rewards of God's protection, but too often we have seen our trials and tribulations as challenges to our faith. The psalmist testifies once again that love of the Holy One is achieved, not by closing one's eyes, but, even as with less significant loves, through effort, honesty, and open confrontation.

The psalm demands oneness, reflecting an integration of most difficult circumstances together with security. The psalmist is model, puzzle, and challenge to us, for he did not hide from life's troubles on one hand, and yet lives within a framework of faith on the other. Reciting this psalm demands that twice a day we struggle with ourselves and our faith, in expectation that we will arrive at the Days of Awe ready for repentance, ready to celebrate on the holiday with a full heart before the Lord.

In Elul, we renew our faith through search, as is also reflected in the modern midrash on this psalm, "One have I demanded of the Lord, that I shall seek: I seek only that forever I will demand the one, demand the oneness, demand the unity, from the Lord."

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Rabbi Benjamin J. Segal

Rabbi Benjamin J. Segal is president of Melitz, the Center for Zionist Jewish Education, Jerusalem.