2nd Translation of Psalm 27 for Elul

Elul, a month of spiritual preparation for the Yamim Noraim/Days of Awe. Here is another interpretive translation of Psalm 27, which is traditional to recite daily during Elul. I found this translation, by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, on Rabbi Rachel Barenblat’s blog, the Velveteen Rabbi. You can access the original blog post here.

Psalm 27, as translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Yah! You are my light.
You are my savior.
Whom need I dread?
Yah, with you as my strong protector who can make me panic?
When hateful bullies gang up on me, wanting to harass me, to oppress and terrorize me
They are the ones who stumble and fall.
Even if a gang surrounds me my heart is not weakened.
If a battle is joined around me my trust in You is firm.
Only one thing do I ask of You, Yah:
Just this alone do I seek, I want to be at home with you, Yah,
All the days of my life.
I want to delight in seeing You.
Seeing You when I come to visit You in Your temple.

You hide me in your sukkah on a foul day.
You conceal me unseen in Your tent.
You also raise me beyond anyone’s reach
And now, as You have held my head high despite the presence of my powerful foes
I prepare to celebrate and thrill, singing and making music to You, Yah!
Listen, Yah, to the sound of my cry
And, being kind, answer me!
My heart has said, I turn to seek you.
Your presence is what I beg for
Don’t hide Your face from me.
Don’t just put me down, You who have been my helper.
Don’t abandon me, don’t forsake me, God my support.
Though my father and my mother have left me
You, Yah, will hold me securely.
Please teach me Your way.
Teach me Your way and guide me on the straight path.
Discourage those who defame me
Because false witnesses stood up against me belching out violence.
Don’t let me become the victim of my foes.
I wouldn’t have survived
If I hadn’t hoped that I would see, yet,
Your goodness, God, fully alive on earth.
So I tell you, my friends: you too hope to Yah! Be sturdy!
And make strong your heart. And most of all, keep hoping to Yah.

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.

Arpeggio by Tere Starr

Another beautiful note from Morgan Buroker’s bat mitzvah. As part of the Birkot ha-Shachar/Dawn blessings that acknowledge the start of a new day, the wonder of life and miracle of creation, Morgan’s grandmother Tere Starr, read a poem she had written. A perfect blessing for the day.

Arpeggio
by Tere Starr

Hope is the thing with feathers.
–Emily Dickinson

I’d almost forgotten
how good anticipation feels,
but then a blackbird came
and sang to me. He ruffled
his feathers, threw his head
back and he sang. Another
blackbird joined him, and then
another. The trio of grackles
created a cacophony.

Other species joined them —
mourning doves and blue jays,
mocking birds and cardinals –
otherwise drawn to water and food,
but now each one sang along,
and somewhere in the myriad
of separate voices,
a symphony was formed.

The birds sang simple truths
of touch and hope, the joys of sharing.
Their song, a gift that’s left by ancients.
And now, with time beside us as we spiral,
the harmony resounds. Arpeggio…
Anticipation signals the essential.
If I follow, it might even lead to love.

B’shalach A New Morning Prayer

by Ellen Danninimages (4)

B’shalach A New Morning Prayer

 

Lord of the outstretched hand,

who brought our ancestors out of

confinement in Egypt,

release all those bodily confined

for the pursuit of justice.

 

Release us from the prisons

and the callouses we have constructed

around our hearts.

Release our hands from the shackles

we have placed on them,

and guide them to their avodah [worship / work].

 

Release our minds from the deceptions

in which they are imprisoned.

 

Remove exhaustion

from our eyelids and bodies.

Release our spirits from terror and fear.

 

Renew us that we may be renewed,

set us on our journey to the land

we are to enter.

 

We are and we are not our ancestors.

 

We will not turn aside.