Psalm 27 for Elul

Hand painted Yemenite Shofar

Hand painted Yemenite Shofar

Today is Rosh Hodesh Elul, tonight will be the first of day of Elul, the month before Rosh Hashanah. Last night Rabbi Strassfeld and Rabbi Levitt offered us some meaningful words about using the month of Elul to prepare for the Yamim Noaim/Days of Awe.  The way I understood their messages, we ask so much of ourselves during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, facing ourselves, making teshuvah/change, we need another month to prepare ourselves.

According to one rabbi, “sometime around the year 1745 Ashkenazic Jews began to recite Psalm 27 morning and evening from Rosh Hodesh Elul until Hoshanah Rabbah.” Perhaps some of us already practice this. Perhaps others will find it comforting and meaningful. Each week in the month of Elul, I will post a different translation of Psalm 27. The Hebrew with traditional translation is here. The first translation is by Rabbi Brant Rosen and you can find the blog where he first published it here.

Psalm 27: you are my light and my hope

you are my light and my hope
why should i fear?
you are my life and my strength
so why do i tremble?

when i contemplate surrender
to my dread of the unknown,
i hold tight to you
and your strength gives me strength.

i only ask one thing of you,
just this one thing:
that i may be welcome in your house
all the days of my life,
to dwell in your innermost place
in safety beneath
the softness of your wings.

be my shelter when
i am wracked by hardship and disquiet,
offer me sanctuary and from there
i will sing hymns to the darkness
with openness and love

do you hear my song?
do you hear me when i cry
to you?
do not turn away –
i seek you endlessly,
i turn constantly toward your light.

in my darkest moments
of this i am sure:
i will never be alone,
yes, even if my father and mother
abandoned me, you will be there
to gather me up

guide me in your ways,
lead me down the paths
of wholeness and peace,
remind me that no matter
how far i may stray
there is always a road
to return.

though i don’t always see it
i will ever trust in your goodness
right here
right now
in the land of the living.

hold on to your hope
and be strong.
the time of our return
will soon arrive.