It is a tradition in between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur to visit the graves of our loved ones. Some also choose to visit during these days leading up to Rosh Hashana, knowing that major holidays often amplify loss and intensify an already present grief.
Included in the graveside liturgy is Psalm 23. The first line of the psalm feels troubling. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” And yet, don’t we want? Is it not in our rawest, lowest points in deeply missing those we love that we want a reversal of time? We want to see our loved one in the land of the living. We want to hear their laughter and ask them millions of questions. Of course, we want.
But this is where the translation is misleading. The translation should read, “The Lord is my shepherd; I will not lack a thing.” The difference is subtle. Yes, I may want the physical return of the person I love. “I will not lack a thing” is instead read as an instruction of gratitude. With an abundance of love offered during their lifetime and comforting memories that continue during ours, we “want” but do not lack appreciation. Still wanting, but grateful for what we have been given during the length of their days.
The Lord is our shepherd, holding us close, reminding us of the blessings we receive in this world and the blessings we receive from the world beyond.
In partnership with The Jewish Journal, you can also find Rabbi Guzik’s blog post HERE.