noticed that some people recite Psalm 119 every day for the Rebbe. What does
this psalm have to do with the Rebbe and why are people still reciting psalms
for the Rebbe after he passed away?
explore the origin of this custom before addressing your question.
There is a custom
dating at least as far back to the Baal Shem Tov that
each day one should recite the chapter of Psalms that corresponds to one’s age.
For example, a 13-year-old, who is in his or her fourteenth year of life, would
recite Psalm 14 for the duration of that year.
Many also have
the custom of reciting the psalms corresponding to their children’s age (e.g.,
until the first birthday, Psalm 1 is recited, and on the first birthday, one
begins reciting Psalm 2, etc.). Reciting the children’s psalms daily is an
especially potent prayer that children remain on the right spiritual path.
Rebbe also encouraged that the children themselves should recite their own
psalms from time to time.
Reciting the Rebbe’s Chapter
Wishing to be
spiritually connected to their rebbe, many chassidim have the custom to recite
the psalm corresponding to the age of their rebbe. As the
Lubavitcher Rebbe explained regarding reciting the psalm of the Previous Rebbe,
doing so is a vehicle through which we receive many material and spiritual
Reciting the Rebbe’s psalm connects one to the Rebbe and is beneficial both to
the Rebbe and oneself.
The custom is to
continue reciting the Rebbe’s chapter even after his passing, for the lives of
the righteous are spiritual, and as long as their disciples continue following
in their path, the righteous are spiritually alive as well.
Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, provides an insight into the relevance
of these psalms. In a diary entry dated 20 Marcheshvan 5745 (1944), the
birthday of his own father and Rebbe, who passed away 24
years prior, the Previous Rebbe records:
my dream I saw my holy father dressed in Shabbat attire, and his face was full
of great joy. He said, “On this day, when I completed 84 years since my soul
came down into the lower world, I will have holy guests, and according to the
order, each one will expound upon a verse in chapter 84 of
Psalms . . .”
chassidim of the Rebbe, who was born in 1902, are now saying Psalm 119, since
it has been 118 years since his birth.
Back to David
finishes with the verse “The prayers of David the son of Jesse are completed,”
indicating that this psalm was said when King David’s life ended. Now, we know
that King David lived to the age of 70, so why did he finish with Psalm 72 and
not Psalm 71? The Talmud
tells us that Psalms 1 and 2 were originally one single psalm. Thus, the psalm King David would have been
reciting at the end of his life was indeed (our) Psalm 72.
One should not
underestimate the power and benefit of reciting psalms in general and, more
specifically, the psalm corresponding to one’s age. So, especially in these
trying times, if you’re not already reciting your psalm, now is a great time to
Intimidated by the Hebrew? We are glad to share that you can listen to the entire Psalms in Hebrew, chanting along to the
best of your ability.