Friday, August 20, 2021

Always a Tourist

As we prepare for the upcoming New Year, various practices and adjustments are made in our morning and evening liturgy during this month of Elul. At the conclusion of services, we recite Chapter 27 of Tehilim/Psalms, known as L'David. The highlight of the prayer is King David declares his deepest desire is to "dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of his life and visit in His sanctuary." His lifelong ambition is to be in the House of G-d for all the days of his life. Why does he request merely to be a  visitor? This request would qualify him as a long-term resident!!! The thrill of a tourist visiting a world-class destination is unmatched in its excitement and elation. I recall my trip a few years ago to Lake Louise in Banff, Alberta, Canada. It was probably the most beautiful place I have ever visited. Judging the reactions of my fellow tourists at the time, I think they shared similar thoughts. People were speechless when they first arrived at the lake as there were no words to describe the natural beauty they encountered adequately. As with most tourist areas, a guy was selling cold beverages and ice cream at the lake. The individual seemed to be quite stressed from his everyday work experiences not unlike most people who have had that stress at their job. But-- this was the most tranquil and idyllic location! How can the environment not have a calming effect on him? The obvious answer is that because this vendor had seen this place so frequently, he became so desensitized to the location. That is the reality of human nature; no matter how wonderful something is, we begin to lose appreciation when we experience this regularly or frequently. That is what King David was referring to in Chapter 27. He wanted to be in the House of G-d every day of his life, but he never wanted to lose a tourist's feeling when visiting an awesome sight. This is a timeless message for us and especially acute in the month of Elul. We may have become so familiar with the rituals and practices of Judaism that we may no longer appreciate its beauty and meaning. Therefore, let us be in the House of G-d both literally and figuratively and feel as if it's our first time. Have a Peaceful Shabbos, Rabbi Yaakov Fisch 

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