Breaking down the Yamim Nora'im

Breaking Down Palm 27

  • WHEN do we say it? We recite Psalm 27 twice daily from the second day of Rosh Hodesh Elul (Thursday, August 20, 2020) until and including Shemini Atzeret (Saturday, October 10, 2020).
  • WHERE can I find it?
  • WHAT does this psalm talk about, and WHY do we say it during Elul and throughout the High Holy Day season? The psalm depicts a person of pure unwavering faith in the unending support of God, who suddenly feels abandoned by God, longing, begging, and pleading to see God’s face. Our sages teach that this exploration of faith is the very essence of the High Holy Day season—a time when our faith vacillates from strong and confident to weak and questioning. They go further to say that certain phrases from the psalm actually align with each of the major Holy Days of the season. “Adonai is my Light” (verse 1) = Rosh Hashanah; “and my salvation” (verse 1) = Yom Kippur; and “God will keep me safe in God’s pavilion” (verse 5) = Sukkot.
  • HOW can I learn some melodies for this psalm? The fourth verse of this psalm is perhaps one of the most well-known:

אַחַ֤ת ׀ שָׁאַ֣לְתִּי מֵֽאֵת־יְהוָה֮ אוֹתָ֪הּ אֲבַ֫קֵּ֥שׁ שִׁבְתִּ֣י בְּבֵית־יְ֭הוָה כָּל־יְמֵ֣י חַיַּ֑י לַחֲז֥וֹת בְּנֹֽעַם־יְ֝הוָ֗ה וּלְבַקֵּ֥ר בְּהֵיכָלֽוֹ׃

One thing I ask of Adonai, only that do I seek: to live in the house of Adonai all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of Adonai, to frequent God’s temple.

Check out some melodies for this verse on this playlist from BJ!