The centerpiece of the third section of the Tanach, the section known as Ketuvim (the Writings), is the Book of Psalms. The Book of Psalms contains some of the most majestic poetic images in the history of the Hebrew language.
"The Life of David" by Robert Pinsky (Schocken Books, $19.95).
Every morning, pious Jews pray to God that "the offspring of Your servant David may speedily flourish ... for we hope for your salvation all day long."
The hope of future redemption and a return to ancient glory has long been a staple of Jewish life, based upon God's promise to David that "your house and your kingship shall ever be secure before you; your throne shall be established forever."
I've always had a difficult time assimilating tragedy, and although it hit much closer to home for me, Sept. 11 was not much different.
Even though it touched people all around me, and I was definitely affected, it still did not seem as intense or painful as it should have been.
I sought the solace of my friends, and gave it as much as possible, just like everyone else in New York City. And although I knew people who died in the Trade Center, and others who lost close relatives and friends, I still only understood the calamity in my mind. It didn't really hit my heart the way it hit others'.
Then I found a uniquely Jewish way to relate, and was able to come to personal terms with this tragedy.
For the last several years I have had a relationship with a man in prison, and I have seen how his soul has become anguished and diminished by sitting in that cell.
I met William after he was released from prison the first time, and I helped him get back on his feet. Now I write him words of comfort from the Psalms, from the Torah and from meditations that I have found to enhance an ailing spirit.
Am I the only one who goes to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services to listen and participate?
Probably not. But why do I feel that way sometimes?
It could have been a wedding or a bar mitzvah: A lively klezmer band played as several hundred people munched kosher turkey sandwiches and sipped fruit punch at tables scattered outside a giant white tent. This scene was set against a picturesque landscape of boulder-studded, tree-dotted green hills.