Last night I said tehillim (psalms) for the first time in 12 years, and it was oddly comforting. A group of friends got together in a warm living room in Tel Aviv and said them in honor of a friend’s sister who will undergo serious surgery within the next week.
Our group was made up of three of us who had been dati (religious) at one point in our lives, and three who remain dati (religious in a modern way) today. One friend brought the pages of psalms and explained that each letter was a sound, and that sounds have a divine power. That psalms themselves are made out of the combinations of the letters to weave into other sounds, and that those sounds magnify to have even greater power.
I clung to this…the idea that sounds have power. And I remembered a time when psalms seemed to be the only thing to get me through darkness after the tragedy of losing my friends to the Hebrew University bombing. The act of singsonging my way through the words in some way hypnotized me away from pain, and into a place of calm.
As we stumbled our way through the text – many of the words unfamiliar to us all, there was a collective purpose – healing. And I couldn’t help wonder whom we were attempting to heal – our friend’s sister, or our own helplessness.
And so, we recited words over mystical psalms, hoping that our voices might amplify into a power beyond us – one that might heal, one that might touch a life several thousand miles away.
May the many sounds we make from our mouth amplify to heal and provide safety and comfort to those in need.
And on this Christmas Day, may the sounds of the carols bring joy to the world.