The sound of the Shofar can already be heard every morning in synagogues around the world. The Jewish month of Elul began this past Wednesday, a month of preparation for the holiest season of the year, the Yomim Noraim, the Days of Awe. Besides the sounding of the Shofar, “L’Dovid“, Psalm 27, is also added to the morning service, chosen for its various allusions to the High Holidays and Succos.
A frequently quoted verse of this Psalm is King David’s touching plea, “One thing I asked of G-d, that shall I desire — that I dwell in the house of G-d all the days of my life.” Now, the Book of Psalms is overflowing with King David’s requests. For millenia people have empathized with and related to his struggles, finding in his words a more potent expression of their own thoughts and feelings. In light of this, how could King David say he has only one request?
The lists of King David’s needs fill the Book of Psalms, but they really all boil down to this one request — “that I dwell in the house of G-d all the days of my life.” In essence he is asking, “please remove all these struggles that are holding me back from connecting with You, because that’s all I really want.”
This holiday period is the greatest time to connect with G-d, and it offers a chance to speak to Him, express our struggles, and request His help. The Rebbe of Kubrin (quoting the Zohar) says, however, that we sound like dogs barking “Hahv, Hahv!” Hahv sounds almost like barking, but it also means “Give me!” in Hebrew. Lists of requests can become self-serving — the opposite of connection to G-d. A dog is “man’s best friend,” but only because that man is willing to feed him, pet him, and play “fetch!” Man himself has many needs, and turning to G-d for help is crucial, but the focus must be “I need this to serve You, to connect with You.” That’s really all we want. (Based on Nesivos Shalom)
Rabbi Mordechai Dixler
Program Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org