Review of The Poetry of Prayer: Tehillim in Tefillah

by Gil Student

The Poetry of Prayer: Tehillim in Tefillah
By Rabbi Avi Baumol
Gefen Publishing House
Jerusalem, 2009
100 pages

For a book on prayer to be successful, it has to be smart but not too smart. A book that is too intellectual may engage your mind, but as it delves into the details of history and philology it generally becomes a book that takes the mind too far from the heart. On the other hand, a book that inspires superficially may add to the power of the readers’ prayers in general, but it fails to educate the readers about what the prayer means. Rabbi Avi Baumol carefully treads that fine line. He analyzes the elements of Tehillim that can be found in five sections of the prayer service. His style is informed of scholarship, including the history of prayer and the literary structure of Tehillim, but the analysis isn’t too complex. Rabbi Baumol does an excellent job at making his study uplifting and relevant to someone who prays. After reading this book, you come away not just knowing prayer better, but praying better.

This review appeared in Jewish Action Fall 2011.

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