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At least one Israel Defense Forces soldier fighting in Gaza is the son of dear friends of my family. I want to focus my tefilla on his welfare, by name, although I certainly pray for the well-being of every Israeli soldier and civilian. Which tehillim are traditionally read for this purpose, and why were those psalms selected?

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There was about 1700 years (give or take) when Jews didn't really pray for their soldiers because they didn't exist. What kind of "tradition" are you looking for? –  Double AA Jul 25 at 17:34
    
@doubleAA -- I can never recall which tehillim that our rabbi calls out at prayer vigils, but as I recall, they seem similar to those done by other rebbeim. –  Bruce James Jul 25 at 18:34
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I don't know if this is an answer or a comment, but the local yeshiva's been switching off between 79-83, as those have special relevance to עת צרה and ארץ ישראל –  Shokhet Jul 25 at 19:31
    
Psalm 119 is probably good because it's longest. –  Double AA Jul 27 at 5:31
    
If you add up the numbers of each perek in the tikkun haklali the gematria is the same as kipat habarzel (or at least thats what i saw claimed on facebook) –  avner Jul 27 at 16:17

3 Answers 3

While I am not aware that there is any authoritative list, It seems that among several that are coomonly said is Tehillim 121.

I believe this was chosen as a general Tehillim to be said for people who are ill as well as people in danger, such as soldiers. The reason is because it starts with the phrase

"I lift my eyes to the mountains, from where will my help come? My help comes G-d, maker of heaven and earth..."

The rest of this chapter of Tehillim contains verses of hope and the general concept that God will watch you and protect you from all danger and evil.

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Based on what I've seen, Psalm 130 is also commonly recited with 121.

Additionally, it would appear to me that Psalm 20 is appropriate based on its references to HaShem fighting for us.

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In the Metsudah Tehillem and http://www.tehilimhotline.org/prayer_categories.asp it says which chapters should be said at which occaison, the one's pertaining to this matter would be(I think):

For the Jewish People 43, 79, 80, 83

For help in troublesome times 20, 38, 85, 86, 102, 130, 142

For peace 46

For success 112

Chabad.org (http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/809299/jewish/Psalms-for-Times-of-Distress.htm ) says also: 20, 22, 69 150

So all the good Prakim would be: 20, 22, 38, 43, 46, 69, 80, 83, 85, 86, 102, 112, 130 142, 150.

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