D’var Torah: Parashat Ki Tetze
‘Let us count our blessings and make our blessings count’ – The timeless message of Ledavid HaShem Ori.
Since the commencement of the month of Ellul, we have twice daily been reciting Ledavid HaShem Ori, Psalm 27, and we will continue to recite the Psalm until the conclusion of the festive period.
According to our tradition, there are some strong allusions in the Psalm to this time of the year. Ledavid, a Psalm of David’; HaShem Ori, ‘the Lord is my light’ – that is a reference to Rosh Hashanah, a time when we should see the light; V’yishi, ‘my salvation’, which is a reference to Yom Kippur; Ki Yitzpineini BeSukko, ‘he makes me feel safe in his booth’ – that of course is a reference to Sukkot.
‘Ellul is the time where we strengthen our faith in HaShem’
But what about the month of Ellul, in which we also recite this Psalm?
The penultimate verse commences, Lulei He’emanti, ‘were it not for my deep faith’. Ellul is the time where we strengthen our faith in HaShem and the word ‘lulay’ spelt backwards is ‘Ellul’.
For me, the most powerful verse of Ledavid HaShem Ori is the very last one. In fact, it is one of only two verses in the entire Bible, which commences and concludes with the same three words – Kavei El HaShem, ‘have hope in HaShem’; Chazak Ve’ametz Libecha, ‘be strong and of good courage’; Vekavei El HaShem, ‘and have hope in HaShem’.
The other verse is so well known – it is the concluding verse of the Shema – Ani HaShem Elokeichem, ‘I am the Lord your God’; Asher Hotzeiti Etchem Mi’Ertez Mitzrayim Lihiyot Lachem Leloikim, ‘who has brought you out of Egypt to be your God’; Ani HaShem Elokeichem, ‘I am the Lord your God’.
In that context, the message is clear. Before and after we think or we do anything, we need to be conscious of the fact that the Lord is God. It is the essence of our consciousness and everything we are about. And from ‘Kavei El HaShem’ we learn that before and after we engage in actions to protect and defend ourselves, to be strong and of good courage, we need to have hope in HaShem.
‘We recognise, that through the sorrows and the tragedies and the challenges of life, we are always mindful that as a people, we see the glass as being half full.’
Tikvah – ‘hope’ is right at the heart of our Jewish consciousness and it is recognition of this which has inspired us to have Hatikvah, ‘the hope’, as the national anthem of the State of Israel. So therefore, we recognise, that through the sorrows and the tragedies and the challenges of life, we are always mindful that as a people, we see the glass as being half full.
We are constructively minded and positively minded and we are forever filled with hope in HaShem.
At this time of the year, through reciting Ledavid HaShem Ori, let us therefore count our blessings and also, make our blessings count.