September 28, 2011

Jews find it meaningful to privately reflect on the words of Psalm 27 which we read every day during the month of Elul leading up to the High Holy Days through the end of Sukkot.  I have provided a translation of the Psalm below to help guide anyone both reading my message and for personal reflection.

In his commentary Our Heaven and Strength, Martin Samuel Cohen writes a respected and well known Conservative Rabbi notes that at a time of year when people find their thoughts turning more and more frequently to their relationships with God, it is both bold and brave to read the 27th Psalm over and over again as part of public worship, almost as though its message were in need of intense inculcation.

And what is that message?  Simply that God may be known even today in the normal way human beings know each other; that God must be served to be known, and that even the most assiduous performance of rites and rituals must be deemed meaningless in the absence of faith in a God who can be encountered and not merely obeyed.

As we enter in the holidays together, my first High Holy Days with each of you, I ask that each of us take time to reflect on this past year as well as our hopes and dreams for the year that is to come.  Together, we can make 5772 a year full of faith in God, a year full of blessings, and a year in which we build on our previous relationships with one another and new relationships that will blossom.

Shanah Tovah!

Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham

Psalm 27:

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.

I will bring God offerings with shouts of joy, singing, chanting praise to Adonai.

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 seek, 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.