Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Friday, June 04, 2004

Tehillim after Davening: Is It Still Meaningful?

When I was but a young kid attending minyan in elementary school, there would occasionally be a chapter of tehillim recited after schacharis when something bad had occurred, e.g. someone was ill, there was trouble in Israel, etc. Even as a clueless 7th-grader, I was still able to realize that if we're saying tehillim, something must be very wrong.

Since the start of the Intafada and 9/11, the Tehillim after davening have become as routine as Aleinu. Every weekday since then has featured the recital of a few chapters. Certainly, immediately following these traumatic events, the daily tehillim was a reminder that we were living in tumultuous times. The tehillim were said with special kavana and fervor. A few years later, with the impact of those events pretty much gone, the tehillim now have the same status as aleinu. It is something rushed through, not thought about too much, and generally skipped if we have to run to work. And because tehillim is after aleinu, it gets skipped by many more people. A good number of people out there feel like it's okay to leave the shul or remove their tallis and tefillin at that point, because it really isn't part of davening.

With that in mind, I suggest that perhaps the tehillim should be relegated back to the old status of publicly being recited only in particularly dangerous situations. This way, they'll be recited the way they oughta be: with passion, emotion, and lots of kavana.

Some may argue that the point of saying tehillim every day is to remind us of the times we live in, and therefore, they should still be part of davening. But unfortunately, for many people these tehillim are more burden and less reminder. Nowadays, how many people actually think of the situation the world is in when saying tehillim?

Many people will also argue of the great segula and power of saying tehillim. But I think that perhaps the words of the Shulchan Aruch (OC:1) that "Greater are fewer words said with kavana than many words said without kavana" apply to these tehillim as well.


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