Reciting psalms

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, July 10, 2014

The book of Psalms contains 150 poems covering the whole range of religious experience from joy and exultation to sadness and brokenness, from praise to perplexity, from longing for God's presence to grief at his absence, and more. Many people recite all of the 150 psalms every week or month, and it's an old Jewish custom to say psalms (Zogen Tillim) in Yiddish in times of danger, such as serious illness or war.

People in Israel and beyond have been saying Tehillim at every prayer service for the three teenage boys who were kidnapped by Hamas. The psalms usually said are 121 ("I raise up my eyes to the hills" and 130 ("From the depths, I call to God.") The psalms implore God for help, they give people the sense that they doing something in a situation where they are helpless and help the stricken families to feel that people are with them.

Last updated: 2:54pm, July 10 2014