Dear reader,

Can I tempt you? Invest 3 minutes of your time for the next month or so. In return you will find hope, faith and consolation that will invigorate your soul while keeping you in tune with the mood of this time of year.

What do you need to do?

From the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul until Hoshana Rabbah on the holiday of Sukkot, we’ve begun reciting an extra psalm at the end of our prayers.

This psalm (chapter 27) begins with the words “G‑d is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The L‑rd is the strength of my life, whom shall I dread? . . . For He will hide me in His tabernacle on a day of adversity . . .”

This prayer is appropriate for this time of year, since it hints to the upcoming holidays. “Light” refers to Rosh Hashanah which, like light, wakes us from our slumber to remind us to return to G‑d. “Salvation” refers to the holy day of Yom Kippur, when we take leave of all our wrongs from the past year through forgiveness and atonement. And “tabernacle” (sukkah in Hebrew) refers to the holiday of Sukkot.

In this psalm, King David eloquently begs G‑d to save him from his many enemies. As his adversaries pursue him, he enumerates three stages of deliverance. First, G‑d illuminates his path so he can flee. Then, G‑d protects him and removes the danger. And lastly, G‑d brings him to a place of refuge.

Whether we find ourselves in the throes of a terrible illness, a financial crisis or a severe emotional problem, these are the three stages of deliverance we all seek.

Worry, sadness and despair associated with a challenge can be overwhelming. Darkness haunts and immobilizes us, blocking our path so we cannot see. The first step to recovery is finding a ray of light or hope to illuminate the enveloping darkness.

Next we need a path, a real solution for our problem, so that the severity of the danger or difficulty is eased.

And finally, even after a solution is in place, we need to learn how to find serenity—a calm state of mind, a place of refuge which can handle the inevitable struggles.

As the year draws to a close and a new one full of promise peeks around the corner, we ask G‑d to help us through our personal trials. The concluding words of the prayer are the foundation for improving our mindset. “Hope in the L‑rd, be strong and let your heart be valiant, and hope in the L‑rd.”

May the coming year be a year of blessing for us all, where we find salvation from our challenges as well as a year of deliverance and redemption for our nation and our entire world.

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

P.S.: How do you deal with the challenges of your life?