Now, just as “achi – my brother” takes on a whole new meaning in Jacob’s prayer, so, too, the word “me’re’im – evildoers” in L’David Hashem Ori might take on an alternate meaning and be read as “me’re’im – from friends.” If we translate this word that way, King David is telling us the following: that we must be careful – perhaps even more careful than usual – to protect ourselves from friends who seek our harm.
Now why would a friend wish us harm? Perhaps he is a friend (or someone whose company we enjoy) who seeks to entice us to join in some sort of transgression. Alternatively, perhaps “friend” refers to that very dear “friend” that one acquires in one’s earliest youth, namely the yetzer hara. This is an even tougher situation than Jacob encountered; Jacob only had to meet his brother Esau at a particular occasion while the yetzer hara is a companion who is constantly at our side.
Thus, had King David used the word “reshaim – wicked ones” or “anashim ra’im – evil people” instead of “me’re’im” in the verse “Bikrov alay…,” we wouldn’t have learned this additional lesson that one must be on guard from “friends” who constantly seek our harm. It is precisely during this period – from the beginning of Elul until Shemini Atzeret – when we concentrate our efforts on teshuvah and zero in on overcoming our greatest obstacle in that path: the yetzer hara, who comes in the guise of a friend.
May it be His will that we merit our deliverance and witness the glory of our rebuilt Temple and Jerusalem speedily in our days.
About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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