Updated: Sep 20, 2021
The book of Tehilim is one of the most cherished works of the Tanach,
recited daily by Jews of all stripes. Its powers have always been known to effect
all sorts of salvation when all else seems lost. Stories abound of people who
barely knew any Hebrew, but nevertheless recited any number of psalms without
understanding them and had their wish granted.
One can’t help but wonder: what is it that makes the Tehilim so great?
The Alexander Rebbe taught that the book of Tehilim is for everyone, until
the end of times because King David (the one who organized it), condensed in it
all the events that can happen in a person’s life. The Sefer HaMinhagim (from
Chabad) teaches that it’s not necessary for the person reciting it to even
understand what is being said. This is probably why the 5 Books of Tehilim is often
compared to the 5 Books of the Torah. In the same vein, the Arizal writes in Sha’ar
Ruach HaKodesh (Gate of Holy Spirit) that while Moshe Rabbenu is the father of
the prophets, King David is the father of those graced with Ruach HaKodesh (Holy
In the Talmud, our sages teach that King David prayed to Hashem that He
considers a person reciting the Tehilim as if he was studying the 2 difficult Talmud
Tractates of Ohalot (impurity from tents) and Negaim (spiritual blemishes and
Tzara’at). The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 512) adds that the main power of Sefer
Tehilim is literally Emunah (faith). We can readily understand it, since King David
is the physical correspondent of the Sephirah of Malkhut (Kingship), which is the
source of faith according to many Kabbalistic and Chassidic sources.
The importance of the book of Tehilim cannot be overstated. None less
than the Gaon HaChidah writes in his introduction to Yosef Tehilot that “Rabbenu
Efraim said: Whoever says Psalms every day it is as if he has fulfilled [his
obligation of] the entire Torah and he merits to be [positioned] by G-d’s glorious
throne.”. Likewise, the Shelah HaKadosh writes in Shenei Luchot HaBrit (Vol. 3,
Inyan Tefilah v’Kiriat HaTorah) that "someone who wants to be connected to G-d
should join me in saying a bit of Psalms daily, as divided into the daily portion, to
be completed each month.". Finally, the famous Ashkenazi sage Nodah B’yehuda
(R’ Yechezkel Landau) teaches that reciting Psalms is the perfect method for
arousing one’s heart in passionate love for Hashem.
Many other quotes like these have been written by luminaries throughout
the centuries and, in fact, many have the custom of reciting or studying the
Tehilim before praying or engaging in any important endeavor. It’s important to
realize there are incredible secrets hidden in the words of Tehilim as they were all
composed with either Ruach HaKodesh or Prophecy itself.
Let’s see some deeper teachings from this wondrous book.
There are 6 Psalms that begin with the word Michtam (מכתם). They are 16,
56, 57, 58, 59, 60. Rashi comments that, while this word usually means gold, it
actually refers to something people carry every day. This means that these
Tehilim are part of everyday living, to increase one’s awareness of Hashem.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov revealed to us there are 10 types of song, which
have their source in his famous Tikkun HaKlali (Psalms: 16, 32, 41, 42, 59, 77, 90,
105, 137, 150). They are: ashrei, Beracha (blessing), Maskil (the enlightened),
Nitzuach, Shir, Niggun, Mizmor, Tefilla, Hoda'ah (thanksgiving) and Halleluyah.
These 10 psalms help rectify sexual sins as explained by many later Kabbalists,
including Rabbi Eliezer Papo (author of Pele Yoetz) and Rabbi Chaim Palagi
(author of Kaf HaChaim).
There’s a book called Shimush Tehilim (use of Tehilim), attributed to the
great Rishon, HaRav Hai ben Sherira Gaon writes the many powerful uses for this
You can find it in this link here:
While there’s power to reciting Tehilim, one should be advised to never
forget that it’s Hashem who’s behind all salvation and healing and that he expects
us to always come back to him in Teshuva (repentance). The Rambam (Laws of
Avodah Zarah, 12) forbids using verses from the Torah as an incantation,
condemning those who “turn the words of the Torah into a cure for the body
when they are really a cure for the soul.” However, he adds that it’s permitted for
a healthy person to read verses from the Torah or chapters from Sefer Tehillim in
order that the merit of reading them will protect him and save him from
difficulties and injury.
Never forget that there’s power in group recitation, and many have the
custom of dividing the Tehilim between people so everyone can have the merit of
one “complete recital" Join us in Women Emuna Builders to recite Tehillim!
May all your salvations needed come speedily to you!
This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue in spreading emuna! Help us spread Emuna in Israel and throughout the world by becoming a partner!