Psalms: Treasury of Emotion

Coffee Shop Rabbi

A woman on Twitter asked me tonight if I could suggest a prayer “to help (her) stay strong, positive.” She commented that most of what she had found online were prayers that seemed too formal for her. What a great question!

While it is always fine to pray in our own words, Jewish tradition offers us a treasury of prayers covering a vast landscape of human emotion. That treasury is the Book of Psalms, or to use its Hebrew name, Tehillim.

When people first look in the book, it may seem foreign. Unlike many books in the Bible, it doesn’t tell a story. It’s a collection of prayers that Jews (and others!) have found helpful for putting words to human experiences.

Some psalms address experiences I have not yet had, and they don’t speak to or for me. That’s ok. I browse past them and find the ones that…

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