Only one thing do I ask of You, Holy God
Just this alone do I seek:
I want to be at home with You, Adonai
All the days of my life.
I want to delight in seeing You,
When I come to visit You
In Your Temple.
What’s the difference between asking- shaalti, and seeking- avakesh? When we ask, we ask- we speak up and state what’s on our minds. When we seek, we seek with the heart. A bakasha might be an unspoken request. The commentator Malbim says that sometimes people ask for one thing but what their heart really desires is something else entirely. In this case, the two are aligned. What we are asking for is really, truly that for which our soul longs.
We often play the game of- if you had 3 wishes, what would they be? Here the question is even MORE powerful? There is just one thing that I want, one thing that I am begging for. And what a surprising answer! To dwell in God’s house, always. Now, even rabbis don’t live in shul full-time, so that can’t be it?
The Psalmist continues- when I come to visit, I want to experience delight. When we visit a loved one, we know we are not there forever, so we appreciate every moment. Psalm 27 reminds us not to take our time, our visit, for granted, but to delight in the moment.
And, even though we cannot literally live in God’s home, we understand that, in the words of Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, “God dwells wherever we let God in.” Thus, if we let God into our lives, we invite God to be at home with us wherever we are, in each and every moment of our lives.
Achat Shaalti, One thing do I ask. .