What can you say about the biblical book of Psalms?
Well, this particular story begins with an idea from a Florida rabbi.
On the way, it receives help resulting from the grief of an Ohio family.
And it ends in Montana’s Gallatin Valley.
More than a year ago, local rabbi Chaim Bruk heard another rabbi in Gainesville, Florida talk about spearheading the publication of a special edition of the Psalms, or Sefer Tehillim, to be mailed to every Jewish home in Florida.
“I was like, ‘We’re going to do this for Montana,'” he told the Belgrade News.
“It’s so convenient. What is prayer You open the psalms – you pray in your living room. Young Jews – they don’t want to pay membership fees to belong to a synagogue. They were forced to go to the Hebrew school. “
And so this edition of the Tehillim was indeed a daily path to keep the Almighty at the center of everyone’s life practically.
“I’m literally giving you a book that will remind you that you have a personal relationship with God,” said Bruk.
Having never found his way into the world of printing, Bruk figured it would only take a few months to go from idea to volume in hand. Ha.
“Yeah, it took longer than I would like,” he admitted. Bruk hoped to have the volume ready last December, but did not receive it from Israel until the end of May.
This edition of the Psalms was deliberately printed in Israel, with the scriptures in English and Hebrew on the opposite page. Various families with ties to the state’s Chabad community sponsored the edition, of which 2,000 copies were printed. It also contains a collection of letters from the 6th Lubavitch Rebbe Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn on the subject of reading psalms.
The letters mentioned are from the years 1899 to 1941.
Montana Chabad raised $ 20,000 to have the Tehillim printed in Israel and shipped to Montana.
The book “is engaging and beautiful,” he added.
And the timing is random, he said.
“In the past 14 months of COVID we have been lost and confused. When will our synagogues reopen? As a Jewish community, we pray as a group. Whether you’re in Paradise Valley or Eureka, watching FOX or CNN, the question is, “How do I take care of my soul?”
Part of dealing with the COVID pandemic was “storing rice and pasta, but how do I take care of my soul? This book was the icing on the cake, our spiritual wellbeing. Not our religion, but our spiritual life. “
Bruk and his wife moved from Brooklyn to Montana in 2007 to open the state’s first Chabad Center.
“I’m a salesman for Judaism,” he jokingly said in previous interviews. “I want to connect Jews with Judaism.”
Its particular organization can trace its origins back to New York City in the 1940s when the movement moved from post-war Russia to Poland in the United States
Although Orthodox, it is aimed at all Jews, including those who are alienated from most religious Jewish traditions.
The Montana Chabad edition of the Tehillim is the Kehot translation of Scripture. It is designed so that it can be read seven days a week as well as a 30-day month.
The Talmud says: “Moses gave Israel the five books of the Torah and David gave Israel the five books of Tehillim”.
Historically, during the temple era, the psalms had a more formal purpose and were sung while the priests made offerings. After the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, many of the Psalms were “incorporated into standardized liturgies … as part of formal prayers,” states this volume.
“The bigger point here,” concluded Bruk, “is the importance of talking to God. It’s the most natural thing we can do. “
What if a gentile wants a copy?
“We’ll send you one,” promised Bruk.
One of the many families and groups that sponsored this band was the Friedman family, whose daughter Kari was killed in a traffic accident in Bozeman on April 16, 2014 at the then unregulated intersection of Frontage Road and Valley Center Lane.
After many deaths at this intersection over the years, the death of Friedman, a graduate of Montana State University and a student teacher at Chief Joseph Middle School, was the final step in getting the State Department of Transportation to put a traffic light on it Crossing.
Indeed, Kari’s death is a painful example of the many positive things that can result from tragedy. At the time, Bruk was the rabbi who went to the hospital to be with Kari’s body.
According to reporting at the time in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, after several phone calls in Ohio, Bruk was called to another rabbi by the Friedman family rabbi. All of this lasted only a few moments.
“It’s two minutes from my house. I’ll be there in five minutes, ”recalled Rabbi Bruk. On the way to the door, he grabbed the Book of Psalms, which he read into the night while sitting with Kari Friedman. She was 30 years old. Bruk would accompany her back to Ohio and her family. This “mitzvah” was a fulfillment of “shemira”, the Jewish religious ritual of guarding a body from the time of death until burial.
That trip would come complete: Bruk read the psalms on Kari’s body, and seven years later her family helped sponsor a special edition of the psalms for Montana Chabad.