Psalms 113–118 appear as a group in the synagogue liturgy, where they are known collectively as ‘Hallel’, usually interpreted as ‘praise’. Some worshippers regard this name as a justification for viewing the psalms as triumphalist and singing them
Book Four and the Covenant with David
The whole Psalter could be seen as a second Torah, whose five books are witness to the making, dissolution and renewal of the covenant with David. This article looks at Book Four of that story (Psalms 90–106), where the figure of Moses and the traditions of the Exodus are prominent and create an alternative vision to the covenant with David which is under threat (Psalm 89). These seventeen psalms comprise four collections (90–92, 93–100, 101–103, 104–106). By focusing on later Jewish and Christian reception of each psalm, the article shows how Jewish tradition maintains the earlier emphases on Moses and pre-Davidic traditions, whilst Christian tradition interprets them after the time of David, through the person of Christ. However, the article demonstrates that each tradition also recognizes a universal theology throughout Book Four: God as refuge in 90–92, God's cosmic rule in 93–100, God's mercy in suffering in 101–103, and God as Creator and Redeemer in 104–106.
Demonstrated with Samples from Psalms 90–106, with a Special Focus on Psalm 92, Mizmor shir leYom haShabbat
Annette M. Boeckler
The usage of a text within liturgy adds new meanings to the text. This article gives an overview of the understandings of Psalm 92 within its Jewish liturgical usages. The understanding is influenced by the general attitude towards psalms in Jewish liturgy, by popular interpretations in the Midrash (Jewish legends), by Kabbalistic views and by its meaning within halakhah (religious law), but also by the music that is commonly attributed to it within the service. The article shows how a text that originally had no relationship with Shabbat became, thanks to its headline, an important study text about the essence of Shabbat.
A Jewish Perspective
Many will agree that the world around them changes at a faster pace than perhaps one might be able to follow, and politically the world seems to have moved into a constant battle between truth, lies and the in-between. Many seek to distinguish three types of statement – first, the true; second, the matter of faith with a possibility of truth; and third, the absurd – and there is much of this grappling within the sphere of religion. Doubt is very much an integral part of grappling with Judaism, and Jewish identity, and it is certainly worth considering whether this religious doubt can help break the spell of political stalemate and unpleasant populism.
The Problematic Nature of the 'Enemy Psalms' in Christian Reception
Catholic prayer traditions always were very close to the whole book of Psalms. But when Second Vatican Council generated a process of reform within the Church, some thought it not appropriate for modern Christians to say prayers that sometimes resemble curses; so finally it was decided that in the Liturgy of the Hours some verses had to be omitted, or put in parenthesis. This criticism is not new; through the ages there have been various intents to cope with the problem, none of them very satisfactory. So this paper proposes five new tracks to understand the language and imagery of violence in the Psalms: their language is not so much descriptive, but poetic and metaphorical. The violence mentioned in the Psalms simply is part of our reality – and so it has to be part of our prayer. The questions 'who is speaking?' and 'whom are they speaking to?' reveal the perspective of the victims of violence as well as the strict theocentricity of the Psalms. And finally, the intention of these prayers is to limit or end violence, not to multiply it. Three modern 'Psalms' from twentieth and twenty-first century authors show that our modern times, too, need a powerful language to cope spiritually with various experiences of violence.
Ora (Rodrigue) Schwarzwald
Two Ladino prayer books for women dating from the sixteenth century are compared in this article. The first of these (S1) is a manuscript and the second one (S2) is a printed book from Thessalonica. The comparison shows that although both include daily prayers as well as prayers for the Jewish year cycle, S1 includes many psalms that S2 lacks, whereas S2 includes the Passover Haggadah, Birkhot Hanehenim, and many other prayers that pertain to woman's Jewish life that are missing in S1. S1 might have been used at home as well as in the synagogue, whereas S2 has been restricted to domestic use. S2 is very informative and instructs the woman in detail how to perform Jewish law, whereas S1 has very few instructions and they all relate to the prayers. It is clear that S1 has been written by a non-professional writer in a non-standard way, whereas S2 has been written by a learned rabbi who followed the Jewish law about requirements women need to fulfil. These prayer books had no continuation in Sephardi tradition in spite of their importance.
Rachel Werczberger and Boaz Huss
On 17 June 2014, in the heart of the Etzion Bloc (Gush Etzion) in the West Bank, the site of the abduction of three Israeli teens by Palestinian terrorists the week before, an unusual event took place. Several Jewish-Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, a few rabbis, and a Muslim Sufi sheikh gathered in order to pray for the safe return of the kidnapped youths. The group prayed both in Hebrew and Arabic, reciting psalms and Quran-based Muslim prayers. “Our hearts are torn at this moment, and my heart goes out the mothers of these children,” said Sheikh Ibrahim Abu Al-Hawa, before reciting the first chapter of the Quran, the Fatiha. He continued, “There is a wall between our two nations, and we hope to remove the wall separating the hearts of humans” (Miller 2014). He concluded his speech by proclaiming “God is One” in Arabic and Hebrew, followed by the young Rabbi Yossi Froman (son of the late Rabbi Menachem Froman), who stood beside him.
Edited by Jonathan Magonet
texts continues with Admiel Kosman’s analysis of a Talmudic tale, Jeremy Schonfield’s article on the Hallel Psalms, and Andrew Levy’s reading of Ecclesiastes in the light of contemporary philosophical thought. Three book reviews complete the issue. In
Rabbi Daniel Smith
other, and it involved lots of ‘ho ho ho’s and the shrugging of shoulders. Lionel was a poor driver at the best of times but this was exceptionally worrying. In the back of the car I sat with Michael Williams, who was reading psalms fervently. ‘Michael
readings. Psalms can be helpful, if imagery about infertility is treated with caution. Lavie’s beautiful Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book has a wide range of prayers from Ashkenazi and Sephardi traditions. New suggested liturgy, alongside personal testimony