This week we explore Psalm 27, which we read as part of our daily liturgy from the first of Elul to the end of Sukkot—more than fifty days total. The psalm explores the tension between pure, unwavering faith and a sense of abandonment by the Divine, painting a picture of a person longing and pleading to feel God’s presence. The questions below invite you to reflect on the psalm and your own life as you prepare for the High Holy Days.
What about this psalm helps us frame this special season? Read through the full psalm and look for words, phrases, and ideas that resonate with you. Write them down on a piece of paper. What themes do you notice?
Psalm 27 begins with the assertion, “Adonai is my light and my help. Whom shall I fear?” What gives you confidence in moments of uncertainty?
In the video Reflections on the Ebb and Flow of Tides in Tebenkof Bay, Rabbi Rachel Cowan, z”l, speaks of the word God as a barrier to connection for some people. How do you relate to the word God? Does it help you to connect to something bigger? In what situations are you most able to step back and reflect on the larger forces in the universe?
Think of a time when you yearned for connection but could not find it. How did that feel? What physical and emotional elements defined the experience? Was it possible to overcome that sense of distance?
Verse 11 of the psalm reads, “Show me Your way, Adonai, and lead me on a straight path despite those arrayed against me.” Think of a time when a challenge led you to go against your values. How did this help you to understand your values better and define your “straight path”?
Are you living out your values today? What is one thing you can do today to come closer to the path you believe is correct?
The psalm ends with a call for confidence: “Place your hope in Adonai. Be strong, take courage, and place your hope in Adonai.” Why do we need this reminder as we prepare for the Yamim Nora’im (Days of Awe)?
For Families and Kids:
If you could ask God for just one thing, what would it be? Why?
Where do you feel the safest? What makes you feel free to be yourself?
What do you do to feel better when you are afraid?