Le'david Hashem Ori: God as Light & Strength

Le’david Hashem Ori: God as Light & Strength

It is customary to recite this Psalm from the beginning of Elul—the month which is dedicated to introspection in preparation for the High Holidays—until the end of the holiday of Sukkot.

One of the reasons we do so is that this psalm contains within it references to all the major holidays which start off the new year. Its opening—”God is my light”—refers to Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the renewed light that comes into the world in the beginning of the year. “And my salvation” refers to Yom Kippur, a time of return to God and spiritual redemption. “He will conceal me in the hidden places of His tent” refers to Sukkot, during which we sit in booths/tents that remind us of the tents in which we dwelled as we wondered in the desert for the forty years.

Twice the psalm mentions God: “Hashem is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” and “Hashem is the strength of my life, whom shall I dread?” “Light” and “strength” are two manifestations of God in our world. God manifests to us as our “light” when we walk in the path of truth, before we deviate and confuse ourselves, before we deviate from the Divine inner plan for creation. God manifests Himself to us as our “strength” after we have transgressed and need extra strength to find our way back again.

Prior to giving in, surrendering weakly to our ego or to our negative tendencies, the idea of transgressing is but a distant fear. We operate in a constant state of “light.” Everything is clear and unambiguous. However, after we give in and we encounter negativity on an intimate level, our internal light of God (our soul being the flame of the infinite) is dimmed. The fear is no longer distant, the dread is present and very real. At this junction, we need God’s strength.

This psalm tells us that in our hour of need, God will extend a hand and assist us in the process of self-transformation and re-unification. We will never be abandoned, as long as we live.

It is God’s will to seek all forlorn souls and move them to teshuva/repentance. Whichever level we are at, even if we live constantly in the light, we should never forget those others who struggle in the darkness. We should pray for them and seek to inspire them by our example.


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