Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Follow-Up Question: Is Saying Tehillim for the Sick a Gender-Specific Activity?

I ask this only because it seems like it's always women organizing to say Tehillim, saying Tehillim, etc.

But maybe that's just the people I know?

Does anyone else know if this is the case? And if so, why? It seems like this would be equally within the male & female domain..

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Things that Amaze Me: The Belief in the Power of Tehillim

Recently, a girl with whom I went to seminary (10+ years ago) was diagnosed with a bad illness. This made me feel really bad (for her, her kids, her husband, her family) and sad because she is truly a great person.

But what amazed me (and what amazes me in other situations) is the barrage of Facebook messages that I got (and status updates that I saw) asking people to commit to saying a number of Tehillim on her behalf.

I guess I shouldn't be so amazed. Once, a long time ago, when I was 13, and I found out that my grandfather had had a stroke, I sat on the couch in our living room reading perek after perek of Tehillim, trying really hard to focus, to concentrate so that maybe God would do something to reverse this.

But it's been a really long time since I was 13. And I can't imagine that even if I was religious now, I would believe that reading prakim of Tehillim had some sort of power to heal the sick.

Because that's what it is, right? There's this pervasive belief that these words have some deep seated power (over God?) to heal... Thus the rush to get enough people to say them so that maybe it'll do something.

And I understand the impulse or the desire to believe this completely. There's nothing worse than feeling like someone you care about is sick or dying and there's nothing you can do. This gives people a feeling of power over the situation, like they're doing something to help. That doesn't minimize my amazement, still, at how deeply people believe.

Anyway, related to this, here's my quandary. I've been asked to commit to say p'rakim of Tehillim on this girl's behalf. I obviously care very much about her, want her to know that I'm thinking of her, etc. But it feels hypocritical and rather silly to say Tehillim for her, because I don't believe it has any effect at all...

That said, it clearly means something to this girl... and it's not like it would hurt me to say it...

Not really sure how to respond.