April 8, 2024
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April 8, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

For almost two months, beginning on Rosh Chodesh Elul and continuing through the Yamim Noraim and Sukkot, we add the paragraph of L’Dovid Hashem Ori (Tehillim 27) to our tefillot each morning and evening. There are a number of beautiful messages encapsulated in this perek of Tehillim, and I would like to share with you one that I heard in the name of Rav Tzadok m’Lublin.

Rav Tzadok notes that there appears to be a redundancy in one of the pesukim of the perek. Dovid Hamelech turns to Hashem and declares, “Achat sho’alti me’eit Hashem, ota avakesh…, “One thing I ask from Hashem, that I request…” and he then continues to request for God’s presence to be felt in his life. Why the repetition? The words “ota avakeish, that I request” seem completely superfluous?

Rav Tzadok suggests that in fact, the words “ota avakeish” are not repeating Dovid’s desire to make a request—rather they are actually the request itself. Dovid Hamelech turns to Hashem and asks for one main thing: that He should help him be a mevakesh. From there, all other parts of his request flow.

What does this mean? What exactly is a mevakesh? It is a term that is a bit difficult to properly translate, but the imagery it invokes is a person that is continuously yearning and seeking. Someone who is constantly looking to improve, striving to do better. It describes a mentality of growth; not being complacent with where one is, rather yearning to continue an upward trajectory.

Perhaps what Rav Tzadok is highlighting is that one of the most important factors in a person’s avodat Hashem—and particularly in the teshuva process which we engage in during these days—is our approach and attitude. Before one can grow or do teshuva, they have to want it first, to have an inner resolve to do better. The process of teshuva can be difficult, and true growth in general can sometimes be a slow, arduous process. The key is our mindset, our mentality. Are we striving to do better, to improve those areas of avodat Hashem that could use improvement? Do we yearn to become a better version of the person that we are today? Even if the actual growth takes time, if the inner mindset is one of seeking and wanting to be better, then groundwork has been laid for a process of true, genuine growth.

This growth mindset—an internal striving towards becoming better—comes naturally for some, but for many others needs to be cultivated. And it is something that we should work to cultivate within our children. From a young age, we should try to instill within them a mevakesh mentality: the attitude of always striving to do better—of a person who looks to learn from everyone around them, and always wants to grow as a person.

Of course, we must be careful that this mindset doesn’t create unhealthy expectations or unnecessary anxiety. Nor should it cause a person to never take pride in his accomplishments. It is certainly important to recognize and celebrate one’s successes, particularly in the spiritual realm. Yet together with that sense of accomplishment should also come a striving to continue growing, to continue moving forward.

Far from a redundancy, Rav Tzadok’s explanation of the Dovid Hamelech’s words “ota avakesh” lays the foundation for his continued relationship with Hakadosh Baruch Hu. In order for a person to grow in his yahadut and connection to the Ribbono shel Olam, he has to want it. There needs to be an inner striving to move forward and upward in our growth. This is a mindset that we should always try to inculcate within ourselves and our children, especially during these weeks of teshuva and spiritual aspirations.

Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom and Gmar Chatima Tova!


Rav Yossi Goldin is the menahel tichon at Yeshivas Pe’er HaTorah, Rebbe at Midreshet Tehilla, and Placement Advisor/Internship Coordinator for the YU/RIETS Kollel. He lives with his family in Shaalvim and can be reached at [email protected].

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