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B'siyata d'shmaya - With the help of Heaven



by Haham Eliezer Papo, Sarajevo (Ottoman Turkish Empire) 5545 / 1785 CE

Rabbi Hayyim Yosef David Azulai extolled the many benefits of reciting Psalms in his book Yosef Tehilot. King David prayed that those who read his Psalms would receive the same reward as if they were engaged in the study of the laws of purity and impurity. This seems to indicate that reading the Psalms is helpful for purifying sexual sins.

Although great Rabbis ruled that one who is able to engage in the study of halakhah and pilpul (Talmudic dialectics) is wasting his time by reciting the Psalms, nevertheless, he should still read the Book of Psalms once a week. Public recitation of the Psalms is of more value than private study of the laws of purity.

One who is accustomed to reading the Psalms saves himself, his family and his generation from many afflictions and brings a spirit of blessing and goodness upon himself and others. There is an ancient tradition among holy and pious Jews to read the entire book of Psalms uninterrupted each day in times of crisis or suffering, or upon embarking on a dangerous journey. If you chant the Psalms with humility, you will witness great wonders. This is tried and tested.

All of these benefits and more will accrue to a person who reads the Psalms in the proper fashion-letter by letter, word by word, in a happy and thankful voice imbued with humility and supplication. If you carefully concentrate on what you are saying, you will realize that these wondrous prayers enable you to destroy and uproot that which is harmful to your soul.

The Psalms contain great praises and prayers to the Almighty; they are the words of the living God sung by King David with Divine inspiration. Even though we do not understand the full depths of their meaning, reading the Psalms bears spiritual fruits.

The words should be recited slowly, without omissions or errors. Unlearned people should read the Psalms several times a day instead of sitting in idleness. A person should repeat the Psalms which he knows by heart even a thousand times while sitting in his store or walking on the road. He will be rewarded for this.

You will be rewarded whether you do little or much, as long as you direct your heart to Heaven (Berakhot 5b).


This is from Haham Papo's Pele Yoetz (An Encyclopedia of Ethical Living) which is available in all Jewish bookstores. The Pele Yoetz was first printed in Constantinople, Turkey in 5585 /1825 CE. It was popular among both Sephardim and Ashkenazim across Europe and Asia. The work has been printed in Hebrew, Ladino, Judeo-German, Arabic and German.