Tefillah Tuesday: Perfume

כל הנשמה תהלל י’ה! Let every breath praise the Lord! For the third message in a row – with a couple more to come – here is another interpretation of this last verse in the book of Psalms. The Talmud legislates that we say blessings of gratitude and celebration whenever we experience sensory and physical… Read more »

Tefillah Tuesday: Gratitude, Joy, and Wonder

כל הנשמה תהלל י’ה! Let every breath praise the Lord! Returning to the beloved Psalm 150, the final chapter of David’s praises. The chapter ends with the summons to “every breath” to praise God. The simple, semantic meaning of כל הנשמה is that every breathing creature should praise. But as often is the case, classical… Read more »

Tefillah Tuesday: Let Every Breath Praise the Lord

כל הנשמה תהלל י’ה! Let every breath praise the Lord! Everyone loves the climactic 150th chapter of Psalms, an orchestra and ballet of praise [Praise God with Shofar blasts … with harp and lyre … with drums and dance]. This week and for a few subsequent posts, I will offer some comments on this beloved… Read more »

Tefillah Tuesday: Completing Hallel

Said R. Yose: “May my portion be among those who complete Hallel every day!” Is that so? For it is taught: “one who completes Hallel every day blasphemes and mocks!” R. Yose was referring to Pesukei d’Zimra. [Talmud Shabbat 118b]. The Siddur’s introductory selection of praises post-dates the Talmud, which remains the authoritative mine from… Read more »

Tefillah Tuesday: New Songs

Psalm 149 comes next in P’sukei d’Zimra, and begins with a challenging line: שירו לה’ שיר חדש, or “sing a new song to God.” Daily daveners know that it often feels like there is nothing “new” at all about our prayers. Praying from our siddurim is an exercise in relentless repetition: the identical words, day… Read more »