L'David - Part 1

A Permanent Place in the House of Hashem

Elul is both a time of preparation for Rosh HaShanah and a time of ratzon on its own. These are days filled with opportunity because Hashem is closest to us at this time of year.

From the start of Elul until after Sh’mini Atzeres, we will be reciting chapter 27 of T’hilim twice a day, totaling over 100 times. Why this kapitel in particular? Why not kapitel 51, which is known as the one where David HaMelech discusses t’shuvah?

The Malbim, in his introduction to L’David, writes that the degree of Hashem’s hashgachah upon us depends upon our d’veikus with Him. Therefore, David HaMelech had but one request. His request was that Hashem help him to be attached to Him to the utmost, and remove any barriers that would get in the way of that d’veikus.

In pasuk 4, we find the pasuk that is perhaps the central theme of this kapitel and the reason that we say it over 100 times this time of year. David says:

אַחַת שָׁאַלְתִּי מֵאֵת ה' אוֹתָהּ אֲבַקֵּשׁ:שִׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית ה' כָּל יְמֵי חַיַּי;לַחֲזוֹת בְּנֹעַם ה' וּלְבַקֵּר בְּהֵיכָלוֹ

One thing I asked of Hashem, that shall I request: that I dwell in the house of Hashem all the days of my life, to behold the sweetness of Hashem and to contemplate in His Sanctuary.

What is a “sh’eilah” as opposed to a “bakashah”? They both seem to mean “request.”

The answer is that often people say one thing but are really thinking and feeling something else.  Sh’eilah is verbal.  Bakashah is in our hearts. We may ask for one thing but our goal and true desire is really something else. David HaMelech says that his verbal request is totally in sync with his deep desire in his heart. He has only one request, and that is all he truly desires in life.

What he desires is to dwell in the “house” of Hashem all the days of his life. Since David was the King and had the responsibility of leading the nation, how could he possibly expect to dwell in the house of Hashem (as represented by the Beis HaMikdash, not yet built, or the beis ha’midrash) all of his life or even all day? Could he sit and learn Torah all day and ignore his responsibilities as King?

What David was requesting was to feel the presence of Hashem at all times and in all places: in the palace and on the battlefield, as well as in the beis ha’midrash. His one and only goal and request was d’veikus to Hashem. He knew that everything else he needed in life would come to him if he was always connected with Hashem.  D’veikus was both his current and only request, and at the same time it was his ultimate goal. All the other requests we typically have, such as good health, financial stability, and peace, are all necessary to serve Hashem and to be attached to Him to the utmost. David HaMelech understood that they are only a means to an end, and he also understood that if he was truly attached to Hashem, then whatever means he needed would be granted to Him by Hashem in order to remain attached to Him. Therefore, he really only needed to make the one request of his true desire and ultimate goal.

This feeling of the presence of Hashem constantly (“Shivisi Hashem l’negdi tamid”) is the essence of Elul, Rosh HaShanah, and life, and therefore it is most appropriate that we recite this kapitel during these days of opportunity and ratzon. May we all merit to appreciate the tremendous gift and opportunity of these precious days and to utilize them to the best of our abilities to strengthen our service to Hashem in Torah, tefilah, character development, interpersonal relations, chesed, and all the other mitzvos that Hashem has given to us for the purpose of achieving that ultimate goal of d’veikus.