Dear B’nai Shalom Families, Members, and Friends:

Having begun reciting the extra prayer, “L’Dovid,” (Psalm 27) with the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul and continuing up to the holiday of Simchat Torah, it is well worth examining a portion of this selection for further explanation. When we add this prayer, according to the Ashkenazic custom, to our daily morning and evening prayer services, we may not be cognizant of a conflict presented by the fourth verse of this psalm.

We are told in that pronouncement that “…there is ONE thing I request from the Lord; that I be permitted to dwell in the ‘House of the Lord’ all the days of my life to experience the pleasantness of the Lord, and to visit his sanctuary.” Clearly there are TWO requests asked of the Almighty when we declare that we want to “dwell in the G-d’s house AND we want to visit his sanctuary.” Not only are we contradicting ourselves by requesting TWO favors of the Lord though we say there is only ONE thing we are asking but the two submissions appear to be inconsistent with each other. Either we want to live in the House of the Lord OR we are satisfied simply visiting his sanctuary. How do we reconcile these two problems?

It is possible to attempt to solve both difficulties with one answer. We understand the statement to be humbly asking the Holy One, blessed be He, to permit us to become permanent members of the House of the Lord, which entails our experiencing familiarity and becoming accustomed to being a regular resident within the confines of G-d’s inner abode. On the other hand, we desire to bring upon ourselves the excitement and novelty that comes with the newness of being a visitor in a special, hallowed place. Therefore, we would be, simultaneously — established, customary dwellers within G-d’s holy place while, at the same time, feeling the ecstasy of entering that haven as if doing it with the freshness and sparkle of one who enters therein in his inaugural visit.

It is therefore our hope and prayer that we use this time in the month of Elul and during the Ten Days of Repentance to become familiar with all that is entailed in being fully acquainted with the inner workings of G-d’s sheltering presence WHILE AT THE SAME time internalizing the unique attributes, features, and qualities of such a heavenly venture.

May G-d hear our prayers and answer them for us in the manner we wish, hope, want, need, and desire.

With Torah blessings and wishes for a happy, healthy, sweet, safe, prosperous new year for all,

Robin and Rabbi Yaacov Dvorin