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Succot 2020

For some reason Psalm 27, which we say from the 1st of Ellul through to Shemini Atzeret has captured my attention this year. My reason for writing about it today is that verse 5 starts ‘He will keep me safe in His sukkah on the day of trouble….’. According to an early Midrash (Leviticus Rabbah 21:4) the first verse contains a reference to Rosh Hashana ‘The Lord is my light’ and to Yom Kippur ‘and my salvation’ which provides an explanation as to why we say this Psalm throughout the whole period.

The first six verses are written in a confident style giving the sense that David was supremely confident in God’s ability to provide him with protection whatever his enemies try to do. The second seven verses are completely different in tone with fear creeping into David’s voice. ‘Do not abandon me or forsake me, O God of my salvation’ (verse 9). The change in style and language has led some commentators to suggest that the psalm is either two separate psalms or else a joint effort by two different writers.

Does that have to be the case? Have you ever been supremely confident about something and then in a moment your confidence gets shattered? It’s happened to me on more than one occasion. And what happens then? I start thinking and speaking in quite different ways, hoping that I can get back to where I was before. It can be so difficult. Have you ever tried to un-pop a balloon?

The last verse ‘Have hope in the Lord, be strong and He shall give courage to your heart, and hope in the Lord’ using David’s words were précised by as ‘I gotta have faith’ in 1987 by George Michael. Both of them are right. It’s easy to speak boldly when you’re feeling that all is well with the world. Much harder when it feels that everything is going wrong.

The world feels to me like an exceptionally challenging place at the moment. Here’s hoping that we can all find King David’s optimism!

Shabbat shalom and Chag Sameach.

Written for the Refuah Sh’lemah of Yaffa Adina bat Elka

Steven Daniels

More documents on this Parshah: