Book 1

Chapters 1-41

This psalm inspires man to study Torah and avoid sin. One who follows this path is assured of success in all his deeds, whereas the plight of the wicked is the reverse.
This psalm warns against trying to outwit the ways of God. It also instructs one who has reason to rejoice, to tremble—lest his sins cause his joy to be overturned.
When punishment befalls man, let him not be upset by his chastisement, for perhaps--considering his sins—he is deserving of worse, and God is in fact dealing kindly with him.
This psalm exhorts man not to shame his fellow, and to neither speak nor listen to gossip and slander. Envy not the prosperity of the wicked in this world, rather rejoice and say: “If it is so for those who anger Him . . . [how much better it will be for those who serve Him!”]
A prayer for every individual, requesting that the wicked perish for their deeds, and the righteous rejoice for their good deeds.
This is an awe-inspiring prayer for one who is ill, to pray that God heal him, body and soul. An ailing person who offers this prayer devoutly and with a broken heart is assured that God will accept his prayer.
Do not rejoice if God causes your enemy to suffer—just as the suffering of the righteous is not pleasant. David, therefore, defends himself intensely before God, maintaining that he did not actively harm Saul. In fact, Saul precipitated his own harm, while David’s intentions were only for the good.
This psalm is a glorious praise to God for His kindness to the lowly and mortal human in giving the Torah to the inhabitants of the lower worlds, arousing the envy of the celestial angels. This idea is expressed in the Yom Kippur prayer, “Though Your mighty strength is in the angels above, You desire praise from those formed of lowly matter.”
One should praise God for saving him from the hand of the enemy who stands over and agonizes him, and for His judging each person according to his deeds: the righteous according to their righteousness, and the wicked according to their wickedness.
This psalm tells of the wicked one’s prosperity and his boasting of it, until he says: “There is neither law nor judge. God pays no attention to the actions of mere mortals.”
This psalm declares that the suffering of the righteous one is for his own benefit, to cleanse him of his sins; whereas the wicked one is granted prosperity in this world-similar to the verse, "Wealth remains with its owner, to his detriment."
This psalm admonishes informers, slanderers, and flatterers.
A prayer for an end to the long exile. One in distress should offer this prayer for his troubles and for the length of the exile.
This psalm speaks of the destruction of the two Holy Temples-the first by Nebuchadnezzar, and the second by Titus.
This psalm speaks of several virtues and attributes with which one should conduct oneself. He is then assured that his soul will rest in Gan Eden.
When one is in need, he should not implore God in his own merit, for he must leave his merits for his children.
A loftily person should not ask God to test him with some sinful matter, or other things. If one has sinned, he should see to reform himself, and to save many others from sin.
If one merits a public miracle, he should offer a song to God, including in his song all the miracles that have occurred since the day the world was created, as well as the good that God wrought for Israel at the giving of the Torah. And he should say: "He Who has performed these miracles, may He do with me likewise."
To behold God's might one should look to the heavens, to the sun, and to the Torah, from which awesome miracles and wonders can be perceived--wonders that lead the creations to tell of God's glory.
If a loved one or relative is suffering-even in a distant place, where one is unable to help-offer this prayer on their behalf.
One who is endowed with prosperity, and whose every desire is granted, ought not be ungrateful. He should praise and thank God, recognize Him as the cause of his prosperity, and trust in Him. For everything comes from the kindness of the One Above.
Every person should pray in agony over the length of the exile, and our fall from prestige to lowliness. One should also take vows (for self-improvement) in his distress.
Psalm 23, written by King David, is a timeless testament to the rock-solid faith of the Jewish people in knowing that G‑d is always with us, protecting and guiding our path.
If the fulfillment of one's prayer would result in the sanctification of God's Name, he should pray that God act for the sake of the holiness of His Name. One should also invoke the merit of his ancestors, for we know that "the righteous are greater in death than in life"
The verses in this psalm are arranged according to the alphabet, excluding the letters Bet, Vav, and Kuf, which together equal the numerical value of Gehenom (purgatory). One who recites this psalm daily will not see the face of purgatory.
In this psalm King David inundates God with prayers and acts of piety, because he envies those who are his spiritual superiors, saying, "If only I were on their level of piety and virtue!"
King David acknowledges and praises God, placing his trust in Him because of his victories in war. "Nevertheless, it is not wars that I desire, for I cannot gain perfection with them. Only one thing do I ask: to abide day and night in the study hall studying Torah, to gain perfection so that my soul may merit the life of the World to Come."
A prayer for every individual, entreating God to assist him in walking the good path, to prevent him from walking with the wicked doers of evil, and that He repay the wicked for their wickedness and the righteous for their righteousness.
The Name of God appears eighteen times in this psalm, corresponding to which our Sages established eighteen blessings-the Amidah. The entire psalm can be interpreted as referring to the giving of the Torah and the ingathering of the exiles.
This psalm teaches one not to be distressed if God visits suffering upon him in this world, for only through suffering can one enter the World to Come. Even one of great spiritual stature should realize that his stability is not guaranteed, but that all is in the hands of God.
Composed by a destitute and oppressed David, running from Saul while placing his trust in God, this psalm instructs man to put his trust in God alone.
This psalm speaks of forgiveness of sin, and of the good fortune of one who repents and confesses to God wholeheartedly.
This psalm teaches the righteous and upright to praise God. For the more one knows of the Torah's wisdom, the more should he praise God, for he knows and understands His greatness.
This psalm tells of when David was in grave danger while at the palace of Achish, brother of Goliath. David acted like a madman, letting spittle run down his beard, and writing on the doors: "Achish, king of Gath, owes me one hundred thousand gold coins," leading Achish to eject him from the palace. In his joy, David composed this psalm in alphabetical sequence.
This psalm is an awe-inspiring and wondrous prayer about David's enemies-that they be as chaff before the wind, chased by the angel of God. It also declares that everything comes about through God's help.
This psalm is a message to those who follow their evil inclination, that tells them, "Do not place the fear of God before you," and brings them to sin by beautifying evil deeds in their eyes. For so is his way: "He descends (to earth) and corrupts, then goes up (to the Heavenly Court) and prosecutes."
King David exhorts his generation not to be jealous of the prosperity of the wicked, for it may lead to falling into their ways. Rather, put your trust in God, conduct yourselves with integrity, and God will take care of everything.
A prayer for every individual, bewailing the length of the exile. One who is in distress should recite this psalm, hence its introduction, "A psalm... to remind" (to remind us to recite it in times of distress). One can also derive many lessons from it.
David's prayer bewailing his suffering. But it is not suffering itself that pains him, rather he is saddened by its disturbing his Torah study. For man's days are few, "and if not now, when (will he study)?" for he may die, today or tomorrow. He therefore requests that his suffering be removed, to enable him to study Torah and acquire a place in the World to Come.
The psalmist speaks of the numerous wonders that God wrought for the Jewish people, asking: "Who can articulate His might? I would relate and speak of them, but they are too numerous to recount!" He created the world and split the sea for the sake of Israel, [yet] He desires no sacrifices, only that we listen to His voice.
This psalm teaches many good character traits, and inspires one to be thoughtful and conscientious in giving charity-knowing to whom to give first. Fortunate is he who is thoughtful of the sick one, providing him with his needs.

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