This beautiful and moving psalm is inserted into our prayer services during the fall season, as we re-turn towards the New Year and Yom Kippur.
The words of the psalm portray the human search for hope in the face of grave challenges and offer powerful words of deep encouragement.
Our sages noted that the first line of the psalm allude to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (Midrash Tehillim 27:4), but the custom to recite the psalm regularly coincided with the rise of the Chasidic movement in the 18th Century.
Here are some of the ways our Chasidic Masters interpreted the psalm:
R' Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev teaches that the psalm is a request for continued growth in consciousness and awareness (Kedushat Levi on Parshat Shemot, s.v. Bepasuk Mi Anochi).
R' Zev Wolf of Zhitomyr understands the psalm as a plea for intimacy with the Divine (Or HaMeir on Rosh Hashana, s.v. Shema Hashem).
According to Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, the psalm encourages us to listen to our own hearts, and to hear there the voice of the Infinite (Likutei Moharan 138).
R' Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter sees in the words of the psalm an expression of trust in the positive fruits of our struggles (Sfat Emet on Parshat Shoftim, 5634, s.v. Ki Teitzei).
These sources, and many more, are cited in a free lesson plan based on the psalm and the rap version of it.
The lesson plan was created by Rabbi Daniel based on hundreds of sessions he has given in which participants wrote their own prayers, songs, raps or psalms.
The lesson plan uses the original psalm, the rap version and a broad range of commentaries as a basis for the students or participants to write creatively about their own inner experiences and emotions.
For a copy of the lesson plan, click here and please write "Light" as your message.
The original psalm can be found here.