Saying Tehillim for Israel and the IDF

Saying Tehillim for Israel and the IDF
What can the faithful do religiously to help during crisis?

IDF SOldier, Birkat Kohanim

IDF soldiers extending the Birkat Kohanim – the Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:24-26).

Often times during seasons of crisis or turmoil people turn to the scriptures for comfort. Probably the most well-known and often read books of the bible is Tehillim – the Psalms. Though the Psalms have many authors, a great bulk of them are attributed to King David who set a standard for combing prayers with poetry. In fact the Psalms are more than just poetry, they have all the makings of true music. They are famous songs of the heart that seem to rise the surface when our peace is ruptured. We turn back to the timelessness of the Davidic tradition, prayers said in deep words by people who truly understood overcoming suffering and hardships. We say psalms in their example and in their merit, that G-d should comfort and answer us likewise.

It is not by accident that we often fall back upon the Psalms, they actually make up a major part of the liturgy for Jews and people of many other faiths as well. This seems to be ideally what it was created for, as a graciously choreographed form of communal prayer that is filled with all the touches of personal devotion. Psalm 23 for example is probably the most known religious chapter in the world, “The L-rd is my shepherd, I shall not want… yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.” This one psalm though it speaks of gloom it does not wallow in it, and has become the backbone for both times of grief like funerals and at times of celebration like Shabbat evening. It’s always a good time to say some tehillim because they are just so beautiful and meaningful on so many levels.

But some psalms carry a strong theme. Sometimes we pair certain Psalms together in order to be said in vigil. The most common example is saying tehillim for the sick. In our tradition it is common for people to take up Psalms relating to sickness and healing, or even verses that remind them of the person they are hoping a speedy recovery for. One says them together during our times of prayer in order to hope in G-d for their healing. We cause our prayers to rise up for this person to heaven in psalm. For that there are many methods and suggested lists of Psalms, both long and short. (Need help figuring out which tehillim to say for a sick person? Try this, at

But psalms can be paired together for all kinds of reasons, some are songs of praise and thanksgiving, while others can be about lamenting and mourning. The Psalms has prayers for almost every conceivable occurrence if we are open to the raw emotion of the words.

Soldier in TefillinBut most often for chassidim the Psalms are said at night or in the darkness of the early morning, during times of reflection and devotion (maybe even paired with Tikkun Chatzot, or the Bedtime Shema). For chassidim and the mystically inclined that are interested in looking inward, the reflection on the words of King David are always appropriate. And as the Likkutei Mohoran of Rebbe Nachman teaches us when we look into the Psalms of King David and we see his pleading regarding being saved from his wars, we should reflect on them our own personal wars with the yetzer hara – our evil impulse. (Likkutei Mohoran 101, 125) This is our most common way of saying tehillim on a day-to-day basis.

But sometimes there comes when the battle is more than just a personal struggle, the war is not the normative internal battle with the self. Sometimes there are seasons of turmoil and violence that disturb world peace. There are times when Israel finds itself in the literally need of salvation and deliverance from the trials of war and calamity. In these cases there are not so many examples of what chapters of Psalms to say, actually there are so many that would be very appropriate and are literally concerning battle. Here are a few that I think would be good suggestions in this time of crisis. We can say one or a few psalms a day after your prayers in order to hope in G-d for the safe deliverance of Israel and the safety of the Israel Defense Forces. One can select any psalm that fulfills the cry of their heart for the circumstances at hand. Here are some suggestions:

Psalm 144 – Deliverance from wars and the enemy’s slander. I would highly suggest this psalm. This song has a seeming chorus to it, it repeats the words “Rescue me, and deliver me out of the hand of strangers, whose mouth speak falsehood, and their right hand is a right hand of lying.” During the past few Israel military offenses it has taken much abuse from the international community because of the bias and lies against the Jewish state. More than ever the people of Israel not only need deliverance from war but also from the slander of her enemies.

Psalm 46 – “G-d is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. We will not fear…”

Psalm 20 – “We will shout for joy in your victory, and in the name of our G-d we will set up our flags; Hashem fulfill all your petitions.”

Psalm 22 – “But You, O Hashem, be not far off; O You be my strength, hurry to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword; mine only one, from the power of the dog.”

Psalm 69 – “Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink; let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters…For G-d will save Zion, and build the cities of Judah; and they shall abide there, and have it in possession.”

Psalm 121“I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains: from whence shall my help come?” Though sometimes added in part during the Bedtime Shema, it is a wonderful Psalm to consider in time of need.

Psalm 130 – Repentance and reflections from fears in the night. “My soul waits for Hashem, more than watchmen for the morning; yea, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in Hashem!”


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