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Elul 7: Multiplicity

by Hillel News |Aug 21, 2015|Comments

First Blast: Text

אַחַת שָׁאַלְתִּי מֵאֵת ה' אוֹתָהּ אֲבַקֵּשׁ

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after

Second Blast: Commentary

This verse begins with a clear request for one thing from God. However, in the following phrases the psalm continues to ask for at least three seemingly different things: to dwell in God’s house, to behold the graciousness of God, and to visit God’s sanctuary.

In a typically playful midrash (rabbinic commentary), God confronts David (traditionally, the author of our Psalm) with this contradiction. David replies, “Master of the Universe! Shall a servant not be the same as his master? At first, did you not come to us with one request, as it says “And now, O Israel, what does the Lord, your God, ask of you? Only to fear the Lord” (Deuteronomy 10:12)? And afterwards, you expounded for us many commandments, as it says, “to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments” (Joshua 22:5). Let it be sufficient for a servant to be like his master!” (Midrash Tehilim 27:5)

This midrash suggests that multiple requests God has for us and we have for God are each ultimately one.  For an expansion of this idea, see here.

Third Blast: Practice

Part of living with an awareness of God is the ability to see ultimate Oneness behind the multiplicity of Creation. Pick three objects at random, examine them, and try to find some aspect that they share.

Double Portion: Something extra for Shabbat

In this Shabbat’s parsha (Torah portion), Shoftim, we read, “One witness shall not rise up against any person… By the mouth of two witnesses, or by the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be confirmed” (Deuteronomy 19:15). Likewise, the multiple facets of the God-human relationship collectively testify to it.

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  • Elul
  • Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Experience
  • 2015

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