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Shabbat Parashat Vayeilech | 5769

My Light (on Rosh Hashana), my Salvation (on Yom Kippur)

Parashat HaShavuah

Harav Yosef Carmel

The statement of Chazal that is featured in our title is one sign of the appropriateness of reciting Tehillim 27 (L’David), from which those words are taken, during the High Holiday season. In this article, we want to present textual signs of connections between the season and the mizmor (psalm).

A special element of our service of Hashem in this period is the saying of Selichot, which revolve around the recitation of the Yud Gimmel Middot, the thirteen attributes of Hashem, which serves to bring us success in our prayers. These attributes begin with the repetition of Hashem’s main Name. Note that the first (after the name of the author, David) and last words of L’David are Hashem’s Name. This Name is the classic expression of Hashem’s attribute of mercy. The gemara (Rosh Hashana 17b) says that the doubling of the Name indicates that Hashem relates to us in this merciful way both before and after possible sin. To strengthen the connection between L’David and the Yud Gimmel Middot we mention that Hashem’s Name appears in the mizmor exactly thirteen times.

The pasuk from L’David, “For He shall hide me in His booth (sukko) on a bad day, He will conceal me in His tent, in a rock (tzur) He will raise me up” contains two hints to a lofty event. Hashem taught Moshe the secret of reciting the thirteen attributes and its great power at the time that He placed Moshe in a tzur and covered him (sakkoti) with “His Hand”(Shemot 33:22). David, in his time of troubles, also turned to Hashem with the request of mercy. He was aware that the small crevice in the rock was the only opening to attain life in an unconstrained manner.

The thirteen attributes are Hashem’s answer to Moshe Rabbeinu’s request to show him His Glory. Hashem told Moshe that it is impossible to see His face but that He would call out His Name and would have mercy for whom it is possible to have mercy. What is it that Moshe wanted to receive and was unable to? In our mizmor, David says: “To You my heart said: ‘Seek out My face.’ Your face, Hashem, I shall seek” (ibid.:8). Although Hashem said that we are not able to see His face, still it is permitted and necessary to seek it. David has an answer to the problem. “…I believed that I could see Hashem’s goodness in the land of life” (ibid.:13). Here and now, we cannot see Hashem, but in the true land of life, in the world to come, it indeed is possible.

For forty days and nights Moshe Rabbeinu held “negotiations” with Hashem on matters of seeking His mercy and an intimate relationship with Him. These days were from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Yom Kippur, at which time Hashem pronounced “I have forgiven.” We pray that we too will receive these good tidings.


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