Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Incredible Power of Tehillim: Parts 1 & 2

I hope to have more in this series coming later this week. For now I wanted to repost them here as they probably belong here in the first place.

One of the things that we can do to help the situation in Israel is to say Tehillim. Despite what you may have read today elsewhere, there should be no doubt as to the incredible powers that our Tehillim posess. Over the next couple days I will post stories about Tehillim and selected chapters from Tehillim that pertain to the current situation in Eretz Yisroel.

If you know of a power of Tehillim story and would like me to post it, please e-mail me at

The 3rd Lubavitcher Rebbe, known as the Tzemach Tzedek said in the name of Rabbi Yehuda "Whatever Dovid Hamelech say’s in his book pertains to himself, to all of Israel and to all times.”

“If one would only know the power of verses in Tehillim, and their effect on high, one would recite them continually. The verse of Tehillim transcend all barriers and ascend higher and higher, imploring the Master of the Universe, until they achieve results of kindness and mercy.” (Hayom Yom)

In the times of the Beis Hamikdash (Holy Temple) Tehillim had a formal, designated purpose, as they were sung by the Levi’im to the music of the lyre while the Kohanim offered up sacrifices. After the destruction of the second temple, many of the Psalm were incorporated into standardized liturgies to be recited as part of formal prayers. (Taken from the introduction to Ohel Yosef Yitzchok)

The first Kapitol (Chapter) I want to present to you is a beautiful and timely piece composed by Dovid Hamelech after triumphing in all his wars. He composed this to praise Hashem for his victories. Read through the English and take from it what you will. Here is the same Kapitol in Hebrew if you wish to say it along.

"Chapter 144

1. By David. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, Who trains my hands for battle and my fingers for war. 2. My source of kindness and my fortress, my high tower and my rescuer, my shield, in Whom I take refuge; it is He Who makes my people submit to me. 3. O Lord, what is man that You have recognized him; the son of a mortal, that You are mindful of him? 4. Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. 5. O Lord, incline Your heavens and descend; touch the mountains and they will become vapor. 6. Flash one bolt of lightning and You will scatter them; send out Your arrows and You will confound them. 7. Stretch forth Your hands from on high, rescue me and deliver me out of many waters, from the hand of strangers, 8. whose mouth speaks deceit and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood. 9. God, I will sing a new song to You, I will play to You upon a harp of ten strings. 10. He who gives victory to kings, He will rescue David, His servant, from the evil sword. 11. Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of strangers, whose mouth speaks deceit and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood. 12. For our sons are like plants, brought up to manliness in their youth; our daughters are like cornerstones, fashioned after the fashion of a palace. 13. Our storehouses are full, overflowing with all manner of food; our sheep increase by the thousands, growing by the tens of thousands in our open fields. 14. Our leaders bear the heaviest burden; there is none who break through, nor is there bad report, nor outcry in our streets. 15. Happy is the nation for whom this is so. Happy is that nation whose God is the Lord."

(PART 2)

First of all, I just wanted to mention that Artscroll is offering those specific chapters of Tehillim that Rabbanim around the world have asked that we say for Israel. You can download them all here. Scroll down and either click the thumbnail to see a larger image or download the PDF's here, here, here, here and here.

Yesterday I posted Kapitol 142, which was composed after Dovid Hamelech came out victorious from his wars. Today I am posting Kapitol 83. This is one of the chapters that Rabbonim have recommended us reading. Via, they have made available Rashi's commentary on Tehillim. Click here for the Hebrew if you wish to say it along.

It's also incredibly interesting to note that this week in Ireland an archaeological dig team found a Tehillim which they have dated to be at least 800 years old. It was opened up to this page, Chapter 83. Still don't believe in the power of Tehillim?

A prayer regarding the wars against Israel in the days of Jehoshaphat, when the nations plotted against Israel.

1. A psalm, a song of Asaph.

O God, have no silence, do not be silent and do not be still, O God.
Rashi: have no silence Do not give silence to our wrongs, with which our enemies harm us.

For behold, Your enemies stir, and those who hate You raise their heads.

Against Your people they plot cunningly, and they take counsel against Your protected ones.

They said, "Come, let us destroy them from [being] a nation, and the name of Israel will no longer be remembered."

For they have taken counsel with one accord; against You they form a pact.
Rashi: against You they form a pact This pact is only against You, to cause Your name to be forgotten, for You are called the God of Israel, and since Israel
will not be remembered, even Your great name is not remembered. I found this.

The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites.

Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre.

. Also Assyria joined them; they were the arm of the children of Lot forever.
Rashi: Also Assyria Even Assyria, which until that day was careful of other foolish counsels and would not join evildoers, as it says (Gen. 10: 11): “From that
land Asshur went forth,” that he left the counsel of the generation of dispersion [which built the tower], joined them here and assisted them for evil. (In other
commentaries I found this:) Also Assyria joined them, etc. Also this one, who initially loved good deedsfor he separated from Nimrod’s counsel, as it is said:
“From that land Asshur went forth” he too reverted to wickedness. Therefore, he participated in destroying Your temple. Genesis Rabbah 37:4.
Rashi: they were the arm All these gave strength and aid to Moab and Ammon, our neighbors, to come upon us.

Do to them as [to] Midian; as [to] Sisera, as [to] Jabin in the brook Kishon.
Rashi: Do to them as [to] Midian through [to] Sisera through Barak.

They were destroyed in En-Dor; they were [as] dung on the ground.
Rashi: They were destroyed in En-Dor I do not know which of the wars took place in En-Dor, that of Gideon or that of Barak.dung Heb. דמן, scattered dung, as translated by Jonathan.

Make them, their nobles, as Oreb and as Zeeb, and as Zebah and as Zalmuna all their princes.

Who said, "Let us inherit for ourselves the dwellings of God."
Rashi: Who said These nations mentioned above: Edom, Ishmael, and all their allies. “Let us inherit for ourselves the dwellings of God” The dwelling of the house of God.

My God, make them like thistles, like stubble before the wind.
Rashi: My God, make them like thistles, like stubble which are driven away by the wind. Now what is גלגל ? It is the tips of the thorns of the field, which are
called chardons in French, thistles. When winter arrives, they are plucked out and disintegrate, and little by little they fly [away]. The part that is plucked out
of them resembles the wheels of a wagon, and the wind carries them.

. As a fire that burns in a forest and as a flame that burns mountains.

So will You pursue them with Your tempest, and with Your whirlwind You will terrify them.
Rashi: and with Your whirlwind Tourbillon in French, whirlwind.

Fill their faces with shame, and they will seek Your countenance, O Lord.

Let them be ashamed and terrified forever; let them be disgraced and perish.

Let them know that You-Your name alone is the Lord, Most High over all the earth."

Monday, July 24, 2006


I am increasingly finding it difficult to separate myself from the plight of Israel and the decisions and choices of her leaders this summer. I ride to work with NPR blaring away, telling me how sad and tragic the situation is for the Lebanese and you know what? I couldn't give a damn. I really couldn't. Because all I can think about are the people on the busses that blew sky high when a terrorist dressed as a religious Jew boarded the bus and detonated himself. Or the folks sitting at their seder table who suddenly were blown to bits when a woman in a thick coat walked into the hotel where they were celebrating.

I think of all of them and of the thousands more who lived, terrorized, all these years and no one outside of Israel did a thing.

And as I listen to this drivel about how cruel and inhuman the Israelis are and how since 300 and some civilians have been killed on one side, that makes the 200 and some killed on the other side irrelevent because they belonged to the AGGRESSOR...I can't help but be mad.

In my head I think that bombing a people really not directly involved isn't a necessarily a right or just thing...but in my heart, I know that they're just as responsible as the closest Hezbollah member is...because they allow them to live among them, to seek shelter, to use them as a shield.

If everyone can run away and say, "It isn't my fault because I didn't launch the rocket even though I allowed the rocket launcher to sleep in my house," then no one is responsible and everyone is responsible.

Me? I find it hard to separate my identity as a Jew from my feelings about Israel and her right to a peaceful existence. I feel like because I AM a Jew, I am in for a penny and in for a pound regardless of the outcome.

I don't want to watch the news...not that I don't want to know what's going on, but because I cannot stand the slanted, pro-Palestinian western media. "Look at the big, bad Jews and what they do to the poor little, hut-living Palestinians!" They don't talk about all the concessions that were made for them or how freely they come and go in Israeli society for the most part - no, it is best to show the downtrodden underdog being bullied around by the Jew in the tank who has no soul.

Well, MY Jewish soul cannot stand that. It rips me apart. So...right or wrong, I am tied to my homeland and to the hope that THIS will finally work.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Making Kiddush in Venice

The streets are winding, narrow. No cars can navigate through here. It’s hardly a stretch to imagine yourself in the 17th century as you walk through the Jewish Ghetto after sunset. To imagine that the gates have shut, shutting you out from the rest of the city, shutting the rest of the city away from you.

In the lengthening shadows, we stop to look through a window at tables set for Shabbos with white tablecloths. We hesitate there a moment, and a boy bursts out of the door, careens into us. “Have you made Kiddush yet? Come in and make Kiddush!” No, we... oh, well...OK, why not? So we go inside and say the two brachas, for the fruit of the vine and for the sanctity of Shabbat, and drink some wine. The boy, really a teenager, has an Israeli accent. He is with Chabad here in Venice. There is a Jewish community here; it’s not just a museum. “Stay, stay for dinner. Have you had dinner?” No thank you....We’re going back to the hotel.... Maybe tomorrow...,

A few days later, we stand on the deck of a boat, watching the sun, a perfect blazing circle, sink into the sea at the horizon line. It is a bracha-inducing sunset, astounding, beauty that catches your breath and makes you say thank You for this life we take for granted. A life of unexpected intersections, light and dark, the familiar amidst the unknown, ancient and new, Kiddush in a foreign land.