Over the last 6 years, I have lived in three different places where at some point or another we would say one or two chapters of Tehillim every morning (and sometimes evening as well) after davening. The reason ostensibly given for this is invariably “The Matzav” (“The Situation”), referring to the “situation” in Israel where Jews are under attack and our so-called leaders seek to give away land to those who wish to kill us.
Who could possibly be against saying Tehillim for the Matzav? Obviously, only someone who doesn’t care about their fellow Jews. Or so, I imagine, the logic goes.
The only thing is, I really don’t like it:
- Why just add one or two perakim? If you feel that your Tehillim help, then why don’t we say all of the Tehillim for that day of the week or month?
- Why not have a dvar Torah instead? Isn’t the schar (reward) of learning Torah larger than that of saying Tehillim, and thus, the positive influence it could have would be greater as well?
- Aren’t the prayers that are included in the Shacharit, Mincha and Maariv dictated by ancient tradition? Who are we to go adding random chapters of Tehillim? Last time I checked, there is no place in the service for “insert random chapter of Tehillim here in case of need”. There are already sections of prayer that include Tehillim for different purposes. And if you would say “what can it hurt to say a perek of Tehillim for a good cause”, I respond that by that logic, what can it hurt to say two, or three, or eight? Why draw the line at one?
- There are already sections of davening (specifically in the Amidah prayer) that were composed long ago with specific formulations for praying for the welfare of the Jewish people, of the Land of Israel, of the upcoming redemption? These prayers aren’t enough?
- With a few exceptions, most people have trouble saying the entire prayer service, including all of the chapters of Tehillim already included in Pesukei d’Zimrah as well as at the end, with the proper kavanna (concentration). Perhaps we should focus on saying the current prayer service with more respect and kavanna rather than adding more to the end on our own initiative.
- Tirchah de’Tzibbura (causing services to last longer than they need to)
Speaking for myself (maybe as a result of my reasoning above), I find it hard to muster anything like the proper concentration necessary to say the requisite chapter in the morning and evening (when I daven in the shul that says them). Yet it is bad form to not do so (see above).
Does anyone else agree with my reasoning? Or is this just indicative of a personal shortcoming on my part?