There are two verses in the section of Savo that speaks to the unique relationship between G-d and the Jewish people:
"You have 'distinguished' -- he'emarta
-- G-d today that He be a G-d for you ... and G-d has 'set you apart' -- he'emircha
-- that you be His treasured nation."
In commenting on the words he'emarta and he'emircha, Rashi notes: "These words have no evidence to prove their meaning in Scriptures. It seems to me that they denote 'setting apart' and 'distinguishing' -- 'You have distinguished Him for yourself from the alien deities, that He be your G-d, and He set you apart unto Him from all the nations of the world, that you be His treasured nation.'"
Rashi then continues: "I did find evidence [in Scriptures regarding he'emarta and he'emircha]: It is a term that means 'praise,' as in 'the workers of iniquity praise themselves.' "
In terms of our spiritual service, Rashi's commentary may be understood as follows:
The Maharsha states that the verses "You have distinguished..." and "G-d has set you apart..." is similar in theme to the verse, "Ani LeDodi VeDodi Li," "I am to my Beloved, and my Beloved is to me" -- the well-known acronym for the month of Elul.
The similarity between the verses is much more than one of order of the verses -- "You have distinguished G-d" precedes "G-d has set you apart," just as "I am to my Beloved," precedes "my Beloved is to me." It is also that all these verses mirror the theme of the month of Elul:
Elul is unique among all the months of the year in that during the entire month the Psalm known as "LeDovid Ori" -- "G-d is my light and salvation" -- is recited twice daily. A primary passage there reads, "One thing I have asked of G-d, this I seek, that I may dwell in G-d's house all the days of my life, to behold His pleasantness, and to visit His Sanctuary."
Our sages relate that G-d said to King David: "You began by saying 'One thing I have asked of G-d ... that I may dwell in G-d's house.' You then go on to request many things: 'to behold His pleasantness, and to visit His Sanctuary.'" Chassidus explains that David considered it but "one request," since "dwelling in G-d's house" is the general and all-embracing principle and request that includes within it all subsequent requests.
Nevertheless, even this general and all-embracing principle and request is but a specific detail in comparison to those aspects stated in the earlier verses, particularly to the statement at the beginning of the Psalm -- "G-d is my light and my salvation ... G-d is the strength of my life."
That is to say, the most fundamental principle of all is the knowledge and recognition that "G-d is my light and my salvation ... G-d is the strength of my life." This leads to the singular request of "dwelling in G-d's house," which itself subsequently finds expression in the particular aspect of "to behold His pleasantness, and to visit His Sanctuary."
These three aspects -- "G-d is my light...," "One thing..."and "to behold..." -- emphasize the manner and order of the service of the month of Elul, the time of repentance:
Because the world so conceals G-dliness, it is possible for a Jew to so forget his connection with G-d that various aspects of his conduct become distinctly un-Jewishlike. Thus, when the month of Elul arrives, the primary and foremost matter is the knowledge and recognition that "G-d is my light and salvation" -- that a Jew is truly bound up with G-d.
However, this alone does not suffice, inasmuch as the evil inclination may influence him to pursue material pleasures, notwithstanding his knowledge that by doing so he sullies his connection to G-dliness.
Hence the request, "One thing I have asked of G-d, this I seek, that I may dwell in G-d's house all the days of my life" -- that the individual produce within himself an intense and singular desire to permanently find himself in G-d's house.
Still, it is possible that the person is only roused in a general sense, but when it comes to particulars he may still succumb to the blandishments of the evil inclination. Therefore, this request is followed by the specific requests of "to behold His pleasantness, and to visit His Sanctuary."
These three aspects also find expression both in "You have distinguished G-d today..." (Ani LeDodi), as well as in "and G-d has set you apart... (VeDodi Li)."
The foremost and primary principal is that "You have distinguished G-d ... and G-d has set you apart" -- the general and all-encompassing connection between the Jew and G-d and G-d and the Jew. At this stage the connection is so rarefied that it is as of yet indefinable -- "there is no [concrete] evidence." This is similar to the general knowledge that "G-d is my light and salvation ... G-d is the strength of my life."
This then finds expression in "to be your G-d" and "to be His treasured nation" -- the relationship finds somewhat of a concrete expression. This is similar to the specific request "One thing I have asked... that I may dwell in G-d's house...."
Thereafter, this finds additional expression in "to go in His path" and "observe all His commands" -- similar to "to behold His pleasantness...."
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IX, pp. 162-172.
- (Back to text) Devarim 26:17-18.
- (Back to text) Ibid.
- (Back to text) Tehillim 94:4.
- (Back to text) Psalm 27.
- (Back to text) Midrash Tehillim and Yalkut on this verse (Tehillim 27:4).
- (Back to text) See Likkutei Torah conclusion of Masei; Or HaTorah, Eikev p. 578ff.; discourse titled Ani LeDodi 5629.