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    Last week we cited the
    siddur of Rav Shabtai
    Mei’Racksho, the Mateh
    Efraim, and the Chida.
    The all concur that the
    twice daily saying of
    L’Dovid Hashem Ori
    is a powerful segulah
    to emerge victorious in
    judgment, to cancel harsh
    and evil decrees, and to live out our years in a
    wholesome way.
    At what juncture in Dovid HaMelech’s life
    did he compose this psalm? The Medrash
    Rabbah in Vayikra Rabbah [21:3] cites the
    great Reb Yehoshua ben Levi, that Dovid
    HaMelech said this kapital when he was
    attacked by the Amaleikis.
    Here’s the story: Dovid HaMelech left the
    town of Tziklag with his 600 soldiers to aid
    Achish, the king of the Plishtim. While he was
    away, the Amaleikis attacked the undefended
    city of Tziklag. They plundered it, burned it
    to the ground, and took all the women and
    children as captives, including two of Dovid
    HaMelech’s wives, Avidgayil and Achinoam.
    When Dovid and his men returned, they saw
    to their horror what had transpired. Dovid
    HaMelech was confronted by dual despair:
    Firstly, the worry over the wives and children
    including his own wives, and secondly the
    anger of his own men who, as Shmuel testifies
    [in Shmuel 1 chapter 30], wanted to stone

    Dovid for his mistake of leaving the women
    and children of Tziklag abandoned and
    Dovid HaMelech, instead of succumbing to
    despondency and despair, reacted in the correct
    Jewish way. As the posuk declares, “Tzarah
    v’yagon emtzah uv’Shem Hashem ekra – If I
    find myself in distress and grief, I call out in
    the Name of Hashem.” And this is how Dovid
    HaMelech reacted in this situation. As the
    verse testifies, “Vayichazek Dovid b’Hashem
    Elokav – And Dovid took strength in Hashem
    his G-d.” He then summoned Ev’yasar, the
    Kohein Gadol, and commissioned him to
    inquire of the Urim v’Tumim which was
    concealed in the folds of the choshen, the
    breastplate worn by the Kohein Gadol. Dovid
    asked whether he should engage in a kamikaze
    rescue mission against the Amaleikis. The
    Urim v’Tumim answered in the affirmative
    and assured him that he would be successful.
    He embarked on the mission, defeated the
    Amaleikis without the loss of even one soldier
    and, Baruch Hashem, recovered all the women
    and children without any loss of life.
    (The Chofetz Chaim, zt”l, zy”a, has a critical
    caveat to this fascinating story. He explains
    that if Dovid HaMelech would have asked
    the Urim v’Tumim the question before he
    stanchly put his trust in Hashem, its answer
    would have been different.)
    Thus, it is regarding this period and this
    episode that Dovid composed this psalm.

    In the psalm, Dovid proclaims, “Hashem
    Ori v’yishi,” Hashem was my light and my
    salvation. “B’krov alai m’rei’im, when they
    came close to me, the evil ones, namely the
    Amaleikis, “L’echol es besari,” to eat of my
    own flesh, referring to the terrifying capture of
    his two wives, yet he said, “Im tachaneh alai
    machaneh,” if they camp out against me, “Lo
    yirah libi,” my heart is not afraid. “Im takum
    alai milchama,” if they stand up against me in
    battle, “B’zos Ani botei’ach,” in this (Hashem
    ‘s protection) I do trust.
    The chapter concludes with the resounding
    declaration of putting our trust in Hashem.
    With a mantra that pulses through the
    millennia, “Kavei el Hashem, hope to
    Hashem (and when things look daunting and
    desperate), “Chazak vya’ameitz libecha,” be
    strong and courageous of heart, “V’kavei el
    Hashem,” and redouble your prayers and hope
    to Hashem.
    Now with this backdrop of understanding,
    how fitting is this message for the days of Awe?
    Many of us, after making an honest and blunt
    cheshbon hanefesh, a personal reevaluation
    of our behavior during the past year, might
    be filled with despair and despondency at our
    chances for a good judgment. We might be
    correctly worried about our meager Torah
    output, our paltry tzedakah, our shabby
    prayers, our faulty interpersonal relationships.
    In this great psalm, twice daily we remind
    ourselves to put our trust in Hashem’s mercy

    and compassion, to be strong and courageous
    of heart, and pray again and again to Hashem
    to grant us another chance for the year 5784.
    In the merit of our prayers, may Hashem
    bless us with a gmar chasima tova, and a very
    healthy, happy, and wonderful New Year.