Psalm 91 is a signature affirmation of my faith. It aligns my spirit, soul and body with truth that sets me free.
My morning declaration is: I live in Your shadow, Almighty, and I say, “You are refuge! My fortress! My God! I trust You!” You rescue me from the trap of the hunter and from the plague of calamities; You cover me with Your pinions, and under Your wings I find refuge.(Psalm 91:1-4 paraphrased)
My challenge is to actually believe this truth and then conduct myself as though I truly believe!
Jews around Buczacz in western Ukraine hid the forests to escape Nazi extermination. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Horowitz gives this personal account: “The tramp of the storm troopers came suddenly to our ears. I was sitting with my son Shmuel in our Sukkah in the midst of the forest. All the Jews, who were with us, hurried out and escaped to their hiding places. We two, however, could not do this, since our hideout was only a little away from the Sukkah, and if we went there we would could easily be tracked and found by our searchers. I decided that we would do best to stay in the Sukkah and leave the rest to HASHEM (Hebrew for ‘God’).
Circumstances had brought me to such a level of faith as I had never before experienced, and I think I never will again. I said to myself that if HASHEM wished us to be revealed to the enemy and be killed, I was prepared to accept this. I only asked that it not happen here in the Sukkah. What a (testimony) it would be if I could tell my fellow Jews that HASHEM had saved me from death while sitting in the Sukkah! ‘Not for my sake, HASHEM‘, I prayed, ‘but do it for Your sake (Psalm 115:1) that Your Name may be sanctified before everyone.’ I recited Psalms in a whisper (trusting) divine protection.
Then we saw the evil ones approaching. The thud of their boots came closer and closer. They walked back and forth in front to the Sukkah three times but they did not seem to see anything. It was as if they had been struck blind. We peeked out through the cracks in the Sukkah’s walls. We saw them standing right next to us. We saw every detail of their uniforms, but they could not see the Sukkah. Suddenly one of the evil ones pointed off to the distance, indicating that he spotted something suspicious, perhaps a Jew’s hiding place. Immediately they all set off and disappeared into the forest. We took a deep breath, thanking God for taking us from death to life. Later on others were all wondering where we had been while the thugs were searching the area. When they heard that we had been in the Sukkah, they were astonished, and agreed that a miracle had occurred. Even the scoffers among them admitted that God’s hand had been at work. King David’s words had come true for us: “He will hide me in His Sukkah on the evil day.” (Psalm 27:5)
The shadow of the Almighty is my sukkah and in His Presence I find shalom.