תהלים כ״ז | Psalms 27 (interpretive translation by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l)

From the beginning of Elul we include Psalm 27
Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

א לְדָוִ֨ד ׀ יְהוָ֤ה ׀ אוֹרִ֣י וְ֭יִשְׁעִי
מִמִּ֣י אִירָ֑א
יְהוָ֥ה מָֽעוֹז־חַ֝יַּ֗י
מִמִּ֥י אֶפְחָֽד׃
1 Yah, you are my Light, my Savior,
Whom need I dread?
Yah, With You as my strong Protector
Who can make me panic?

ב בִּקְרֹ֤ב עָלַ֨י ׀ מְרֵעִים֮
לֶאֱכֹ֪ל אֶת־בְּשָׂ֫רִ֥י
צָרַ֣י וְאֹיְבַ֣י לִ֑י
הֵ֖מָּה כָשְׁל֣וּ וְנָפָֽלוּ׃
2 When hateful bullies gang up on me,
Wanting to harass me,
To oppress and terrorize me,
They are the ones who stumble and fall.

ג אִם־תַּחֲנֶ֬ה עָלַ֨י ׀ מַחֲנֶה֮
לֹֽא־יִירָ֪א לִ֫בִּ֥י
אִם־תָּק֣וּם עָ֭לַי מִלְחָמָ֑ה
בְּ֝זֹ֗את אֲנִ֣י בוֹטֵֽחַ׃
3 Even if a gang surrounds me
My heart is not weakened.
If a battle is joined around me
My trust in You is firm.

ד אַחַ֤ת ׀ שָׁאַ֣לְתִּי מֵֽאֵת־יְהוָה֮
אוֹתָ֪הּ אֲבַ֫קֵּ֥שׁ
שִׁבְתִּ֣י בְּבֵית־יְ֭הוָה
כָּל־יְמֵ֣י חַיַּ֑י
לַחֲז֥וֹת בְּנֹֽעַם־יְ֝הוָ֗ה
וּלְבַקֵּ֥ר בְּהֵיכָלֽוֹ׃
4 Only one thing do I ask of You, Yah,
Just this alone do I seek:
I want to be at home with You, Yah,
All the days of my life.
I want to delight in seeing You,
When I come to visit You in Your Temple.

ה כִּ֤י יִצְפְּנֵ֨נִי ׀ בְּסֻכֹּה֮ בְּי֪וֹם רָ֫עָ֥ה
יַ֭סְתִּרֵנִי בְּסֵ֣תֶר אָהֳל֑וֹ
בְּ֝צ֗וּר יְרוֹמְמֵֽנִי׃
5 You hide me in Your Sukkah on a foul day.
You conceal me unseen in Your tent
And also raise me beyond anyone’s reach.

ו וְעַתָּ֨ה יָר֪וּם רֹאשִׁ֡י
עַ֤ל אֹֽיְבַ֬י סְֽבִיבוֹתַ֗י
וְאֶזְבְּחָ֣ה בְ֭אָהֳלוֹ זִבְחֵ֣י תְרוּעָ֑ה
אָשִׁ֥ירָה וַ֝אֲזַמְּרָ֗ה לַיהוָֽה׃
6 And now, as You have held my head high,
Despite the presence of my powerful foes,
I prepare to celebrate and thrill,
Singing and making music to You, Yah!

ז שְׁמַע־יְהוָ֖ה קוֹלִ֥י אֶקְרָ֗א
וְחָנֵּ֥נִי וַעֲנֵֽנִי׃
7 Listen, Yah, to the sound of my cry
And, being kind, answer me.

ח לְךָ֤ ׀ אָמַ֣ר לִ֭בִּי בַּקְּשׁ֣וּ פָנָ֑י
אֶת־פָּנֶ֖יךָ יְהוָ֣ה אֲבַקֵּֽשׁ׃
8 My heart has said: I turn to seek You,
Your Presence is what I beg for.

ט אַל־תַּסְתֵּ֬ר פָּנֶ֨יךָ ׀ מִמֶּנִּי֮
אַֽל־תַּט־בְּאַ֗ף
עַ֫בְדֶּ֥ךָ עֶזְרָתִ֥י הָיִ֑יתָ
אַֽל־תִּטְּשֵׁ֥נִי וְאַל־תַּֽ֝עַזְבֵ֗נִי
אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׁעִֽי׃
9 Don’t hide Your Face from me.
Don’t just put me down,
You, who have been my helper
Don’t abandon me, don’t forsake me,
God, my support.

י כִּי־אָבִ֣י וְאִמִּ֣י עֲזָב֑וּנִי
וַֽיהוָ֣ה יַֽאַסְפֵֽנִי׃
10 Though father and mother have left me
You, Yah, will hold me securely.

יא ה֤וֹרֵ֥נִי יְהוָ֗ה דַּ֫רְכֶּ֥ךָ
וּ֭נְחֵנִי בְּאֹ֣רַח מִישׁ֑וֹר לְ֝מַ֗עַן שׁוֹרְרָֽי׃
11 Please teach me Your way
And guide me on the straight path.

יב אַֽל־תִּ֭תְּנֵנִי בְּנֶ֣פֶשׁ צָרָ֑י
כִּ֥י קָֽמוּ־בִ֥י עֵֽדֵי־שֶׁ֝֗קֶר
וִיפֵ֥חַ חָמָֽס׃
12 Discourage those who defame me.
False witnesses stood up against me,
Belching out violence.
Don’t let me become the victim of my foes.

 
יג לׅׄוּלֵׅׄ֗אׅׄ הֶ֭אֱמַנְתִּי לִרְא֥וֹת
בְּֽטוּב־יְהוָ֗ה בְּאֶ֣רֶץ חַיִּֽים׃
[I would not have survived] 
13 If I had not hoped that I would yet see
Yah’s goodness fully alive on Earth.

יד קַוֵּ֗ה אֶל־יְה֫וָ֥ה
חֲ֭זַק
וְיַאֲמֵ֣ץ לִבֶּ֑ךָ
וְ֝קַוֵּ֗ה אֶל־יְהוָֽה׃
14 So friend, you too, hope to Yah.
Be sturdy!
And make strong your heart!
And most of all —keep hoping to Yah.

This English translation of Psalms 27 by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l, was first published in his Siddur Tehillat Hashem Yidaber Pi (2009). Versification by Aharon Varady.

Concerning Psalms 27:13, RaShI writes, “The word “Lulei” has dots on it to expound that which our Rabbis expounded: I know that You give reward to righteous in the world to come, but I don’t know if I have a portion with them or not.” (Cf. Berakhot 4a)

While the virtues of Psalms 27 are extolled in a general way by others, Moshe Ḥalamish writes that the earliest plausible source for saying Psalms 27 during Elul Zman is the Sefer Shem Tov Katan of R. Binyamin Beineish ha-Cohen (“the Ba’al Shem of Kratshin”) at the end of the 17th century, after which it appears in Ḥemdat ha-Yamim, Yamim Noraim 4, 14d. (Consult Ḥalamish, Hikrei Kabbalah u_Tefilah pp. 175-185. Many thanks to Pinchas Giller for this reference.)

Psalms 27 is recited twice daily from Rosh Ḥodesh Elul till Shemini Atzeret. Psalms 27:7 is found in the repetition of the Shaḥarit Amidah during Rosh Hashanah. Psalms 27:13 is found in the Musaf Amidah on Rosh Hashanah. Psalms 27:14 is one of the verses recited before the piyyut, “Ein Keloheinu.”

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