There is a minhag, brought in the Mishnah Berrah (581:2), to recite the kapitel of L’Dovid Hashem ori during the month of Elul through Shemini Atzeres. The primary topic that the kapitel discusses is that Hashem is the strength of our lives and that we do not have to fear anyone for He will protect us from our enemies. Why is this the choice chapter for the month of Elul? Wouldn’t a chapter devoted to teshuvah have been more appropriate?
While this year there is far more significance to this kapitel, given the rising of many of our enemies, and the growing uncertainty and turmoil we find in the world, we still need to understand why this topic should be emphasized during Elul and Tishrei.
Our avodah on Rosh Hashanah is to willfully accept malchus Hashem, and only then can Hashem allow Himself to act as our king. Our avodah in Elul is to prepare ourselves to accept this malchus. To this extent, we recite a kapitel whose yesod stresses that Hashem is our strength and that He will protect us from our enemies. Security from the threats of enemies, is one of the main things that a king provides for his nation.
The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah 16a says that Hashem says that we should recite before Him pesukim of malchuyos shofros and zichronos in order that we will accept His malchus. The Mashgiach, Harav Matisyahu Salomon shlit”a, was asked why, after reciting the pesukim of malchus on Rosh Hashanah, one does not feel a stronger sense of malchus. He responded that one cannot simply begin on Rosh Hashanah and expect to acquire a sense of malchus by reciting the pesukim for the first time in a year. That is exactly what Elul is for: to prepare for Rosh Hashanah. Rav Matisyahu suggested that one focus on the pesukim in the end of “Baruch Hashem l’olam amen v’amen.” These pesukim contain powerful words that can bring one to a strong sense of Hashem’s malchus. We should think for a moment when saying the words “yismach libeinu b’yeshuascha b’emes – we will finally be happy when your yeshua comes.” When? “B’emor l’tzion malach Elokayich – when we will say in Tzion ‘Hashem is the king.’”
Perhaps we can suggest that the minhag of reciting L’Dovid Hashem ori during the month of Elul is to accomplish this very task of preparing us to accept malchus Hashem. The reality of this world is that there are enemies who seek our destruction. The job of a king is to ward off the threats of our enemies. By reciting the pesukim, which discuss the threat of our enemies and that Hashem will protect us from them, we are filling our hearts with the feelings necessary to accept malchus Hashem. When we accept our king, He will assume the responsibilities of a king saving us from our enemies, as well as from all the other tzaros and sicknesses that plague us.
Harav Elchanan Wasserman, Hy”d zt”l, in his sefer Ikvisa D’Meshicha writes that everything that will happen to Bnei Yisrael from the beginning of time until the end is found in Parshas Ha’azinu. The Torah writes there that during the time before the geulah, we will see that it will look as if all is lost, the enemy is getting stronger, and nothing can save us (32:36). Then we will be able to see that everything is reliant on Hashem (32:39).
Harav Yeruchem Levovitz, the Mirrer mashgiach, says that it is not enough that we will be in a predicament where there will be nothing that we can rely on except for Hashem; we must also become conscious of that reality. As we recite in Aleinu, we must realize “emes malkeinu efes zulaso” – there is nothing else to rely on; “al kein nekaveh” – therefore we will wait for Your malchus. When we realize that there is nothing else besides Hashem, we will be ready to accept His malchus.
Are we not at that point? Is there anything we can rely on now? The United States? The IDF? Who will protect us when the world finishes going crazy? All we have to do is realize that this is where we are up to. Once we realize that putting our complete faith in Hashem is the simplest solution. Then He can act as our king and save us from the collapsing world we find ourselves in. May it be His will that we merit the geula and the revelation of Hashem’s malchus speedily in our days, amen.