Pesukei dezimra

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Pesukei dezimra[a], or zemirot as they are called in the Spanish and Portuguese tradition, are a group of praises that may be recited daily during Jewish morning services. They consist of various blessings, psalms, and sequences of verses. Historically, pesukei dezimra was a practice of only the especially pious. However, it has since become a widespread custom among even the laymen in all of the various rites of Jewish prayer.[1]

The purpose of pesukei dezimra is so an individual will recite praises of God prior to making requests of God in prayer which take place later during shacharit and throughout the day.[2]

Origin[edit]

The first source for pesukei dezimra is in the Babylonian Talmud, where it is described as non-obligatory (performed by some people but not others):

Rabbi Yosei said: May my portion be among those who eat three meals on Shabbat. Apropos this statement of Rabbi Yosei, the Gemara cites additional declarations. Rabbi Yosei said: May my portion be among those who complete hallel every day. The Gemara is surprised at this: Is that so? Didn’t the Master say: One who reads hallel every day is tantamount to one who curses and blasphemes God. He displays contempt for hallel by not reserving it for days on which miracles occurred. The Gemara answers: When we say this statement of Rabbi Yosei, we are referring to the verses of praise [pesukei dezimra], recited during the morning service, not to hallel (Psalms 113–118) recited on special days.[3]

Later commentaries explain what pesukei dezimra consists of: Rashi said it means psalms 148 and 150,[4] Saadia Gaon said it means psalms 135, 148, 149, 150, while Meiri and Maimonides[5] said it means all of psalms 145-150. Nowadays, it is customary for pesukei dezimra to include psalms 145-150 as well as several other psalms and recitations and blessings before (Barukh she'amar) and after (Yishtabach) of pesukei dezimra.

Elsewhere, the Talmud states that a person should praise God and only afterwards begin his prayer.[6] Opinions differ as to which praise is referred to: the first three blessings of the Amidah,[7] the Shema blessings,[8] or to pesukei dezimra.[9]

For a long time, these prayers remained optional. Maimonides said that prayer should be recited in an upbeat mood, and as a result, these prayers became a part of the regular service. Maimonides also said that these prayers should be recited slowly and wholeheartedly, and that rushing through them as many who recite them daily do defeats their purpose.[10]: 169 

Rashi commented Talmud Berakhot 4b that "Three times" is prayer that is psalm 145 is personal Jewish prayer what is said three times a day.[11] Rashi considered that singing of three psalms 145, 148, 150 in the morning is Jewish personal prayer (not communal). Maimonides considered the same, that communal prayer begins just starting from Kaddish and Shema.

Order[edit]

Ashkenazi[edit]

Sephardi/Mizrahi[edit]

  • Songs of thanksgiving
  • Psalm 30
  • The following psalms are recited on Shabbat, and Yom Tov only: 19, 33, 90, 91, 98
  • On Yom Tov, the psalm for each holiday is recited: On Passover, 107; On Shavuot, 68; on Sukkot, 42 and 43; on Shemini Atzeret, 12
  • The following psalms are recited on Shabbat, and Yom Tov only: 121, 122, 123, 124, 135, 136,
  • Barukh she'amar
  • 92 and 93 (recited on Shabbat, and Yom Tov only)
  • Psalm 100 (recited on Erev Yom Kippur and Erev Passover, omitted on Shabbat and Yom Tov)
  • Yehi Kivod
  • Hallel (pesukei dezimra) (Ashrei and psalms 145-150)
  • Baruch Hashem L'Olam
  • Vayivarech David
  • Ata Hu Hashem L'Vadecha
  • Az Yashir
  • Nishmat (Shabbat and Yom Tov only)
  • Shav'at Aniyim (Shabbat and Yom Tov only)
  • Yishtabach

Shabbat/Yom Tov additions[edit]

On Shabbat, holidays of biblical origin, and Hoshana Rabbah, various psalms are added between Hodu and Yehi Khevod. The reason for additions is that no one has to rush off to work on these days, thereby allowing extra time for praise.[10]: 178 

Ashkenazi Judaism includes the following psalms in the following order: 19, 33, 34, 90, 91, 135, 136, 92, and 93.[12]: 142 

Sephardic Judaism includes the following psalms in the following order: 103, 19, 33, 90, 91, 98, 121, 122, 123, 124, 135, 136, 92, and 93.[12]: 142 

On Shabbat and Yom Tov, Nishmat is inserted between the Song of the sea and the closing blessing.

Following Nishmat, Shochein Ad is inserted. On Shabbat, the chazzan is changed prior to the recitation of Shochein Ad. On Yom Tov, this occurs one paragraph earlier (Hakel B'Tzatzumot). On High Holidays, the new chazzan takes over at the word Hamelekh ("the King").

Recitation by women[edit]

There are questions in orthodox circles as to whether women are required or even permitted to recite pesukei dezimra, given that it is considered by some to be a timebound commandment. The opinions either require women to recite it completely, prohibit its recitation among women, allow but not require its recitation, or allow its recitation but prohibit Barukh She'amar and Yishtabach from being recited.

Ashkenazi Judaism considers pesukei dezimra to be an obligation on the basis that it is not timebound, and it can be recited at any time of day.[13]: 170 

Opinions in Sephardic Judaism are divided.[13]: 171  Some opinions allow women to recite pesukei dezimra without its accompanying blessings.[13]: 184 

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Aramaic: פְּסוּקֵי דְּזִמְרָא pǝsûqê dǝzimrāʾ "Verses of praise"; Rabbinic Hebrew: פַּסוּקֵי הַזְּמִירוֹת pasûqê hazzǝmîrôt "Verses of songs."

References[edit]

  1. ^ Peninei Halakha- Laws Of Prayer by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed
  2. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur, page 58
  3. ^ Shabbat 118b
  4. ^ Rashi to Shabbat 118b
  5. ^ Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Tefilah 7:12
  6. ^ Berakhot 32a
  7. ^ Pnei Yehoshua to Berachot 32a
  8. ^ Ralbag, Devarim 3:23, Toelet 1
  9. ^ Bach, Orach Chaim 51:2
  10. ^ a b Hayim Halevy Donin, To pray as a Jew: a guide to the prayer book and the synagogue service
  11. ^ Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice (Psalms 55.17)
  12. ^ a b Holladay, William L. (1996). The Psalms Through Three Thousand Years: Prayerbook of a Cloud of Witnesses. Augsburg Fortress. ISBN 978-0-8006-3014-0.
  13. ^ a b c Ellinson, G. (1992). The modest way: a guide to the rabbinic sources. Philipp Feldheim. ISBN 978-1-58330-148-7.

External links[edit]