Mizmor Shir Chanukat HaBayit L’David Cont.
The function of our davening is not only to recite holy words, but to identify with the words which portray and add insight into our lives. The words of King David’s psalms and the blessings and prayers coined by the Men Of the Great Assembly, the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah, address all aspects of the world we live in.
In the prayer we are currently examining, King David remarks “ואני אמרתי בשלוי בל אמוט לעולם – I said serenely I will not ever stumble. הסתרת פניך הייתי נבהל-But then You hid Your face, and I was terrified” These words resonate with all those that face loss, fear, and uncertainty. It certainly captures the feelings of the nearly one million Jews that attended the funeral of the late Rav Ovadia Yosef זצ”ל this past week.
King David does not merely present this phenomenon, he also provides us with direction how to deal with it. “אליך ה’ אקרא, ואל ה’ אתחנן- Unto You do I call, unto G-d do I cry out.” The message contained in these words is far deeper than the simple meaning of the verse. The words of the prayer are telling us much more than to cry out to G-d in times of need. We don’t need King David or anyone else for that matter to tell us that. As the phrase goes, “there are no atheists in foxholes”.
The Hearat Ha-tefillah points out that the first part of the verse speaks directly to G-d, “אליך ה’ אקרא – Unto You G-d do I call”. The latter part of the verse speaks to a G-d we don’t see and we don’t begin to understand, “ואל ה’ אתחנן – unto G-d do I cry out”. The lesson here is that there are indeed plenty of times in life that we welcome and genuinely enjoy. During these pleasant times we sing thankfully and directly to G-d for providing us life and all of its blessings -“ אליך ה’ אקרא”. There are also many times in life that we don’t understand. Things happen to us personally, to our family, and to us nationally that defy logic and expectation and cause confusion, frustration and pain. During these times we also pray to G-d, albeit with a cry for help and insight to cope and adjust to the challenge. We cry out to Hashem with fervor like King David did even though we feel He is hidden at that moment “ואל ה’ אתחנן”.
Take Home Tip: As we face life with all of its joys and challenges, we may follow in the footsteps of King David. We call out to our Creator both in times of joy as well as in times of concern and sorrow and take comfort in the fact that the same All-Powerful Hashem that got us this far, can and will help us again.
Rabbi Epstein, Congregation Sons of Israel Cherry Hill NJ
Orthodox Union Department of Community Engagement
Rabbi Judah Isaacs, Director
Hannah Farkas, Program Manager
Adina Schwarzbaum, Administrative Assistant