Simanim 51-52 Part 3 Vayivarekh David

  • Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Mishna Berura
Yeshivat Har Etzion

SHIUR #28: Simanim 51-52, Part 3

Pages 156-160


by Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon





            This passage, ending with "u-mehallelim le-shem tif'artekha," is a direct quote from Divrei Hayamim I 29:10-13.  It was instituted as part of the morning service by the Ge'onim (Avudraham, Tur), and is mentioned as well in the Rambam, the Rokei'ach, and the Avudraham.


            King David, after gathering his ministers and mighty men in Jerusalem, handed over to his son Shlomo the material which he had prepared for the construction of the Temple - the gold, the silver, and the precious stones.  The attendant congregation also volunteered to bring similar items.  At this point, David blessed the congregation, saying that all wealth and honor belongs to God, the Supreme Ruler, and we give thanks to Him.  Since this passage deals with the greatness of God, the fact that everything is from Him and our obligation to thank Him, it is included in Pesukei De-zimra (Tzelota De-Avraham, p. 218).  [Another reason will be mentioned below.]


            According to the Smag (Positive Commandment 19), citing R. Moshe Gaon, the importance of Vayivarekh David exceeds that of the halleluya psalms (except that of Ashrei and "E-l be-kodsho").  This is not accepted as halakha, but the Magen Avraham (52:1) rules that it is preferred to Hodu, as does the Mishna Berura in 52:4 (but not the Arukh Hashulchan in 52:7).


"Viyvarkhu shem kevodekha u-meromam al kol berakha u-tehilla.  Ata hu Hashem levadekha... kemo even be-mayim azim."


            This passage comes from Nechemia 9, from the middle of verse 5 until verse 11.  [This is nusach Sefarad.  Nusach Ashkenaz begins with verse 6 - "Ata hu Hashem levadekha."]


            Apparently, Vayivarekh David was originally said only until "le-shem tif'artekha," with Yishtabach following immediately.  Thus writes the Rokei'ach:


"When they would reach [the point where we nowadays say] the verse 'Viyvarkhu shem kevodekha' they would cease and       say the berakha of Yishtabach.  But afterwards, they instituted to say the passage [Nechemia 9] 'Ata hu Hashem levadekha' until 'be-mayim azim,' 'Va-yosha' until 'le-olam,' 'Ki la-Hashem ha-melukha ... Ve-alu moshi'im ... ve-haya Hashem le-melekh al kol ha-aretz,' and then the one leading the prayer gets up and says Yishtabach."


            And in fact we find in the siddur of R. Akiva Eiger only until "u-mehallelim le-shem tif'artekha."


            Regarding the reason for reciting these verses the Tur writes:


"And the reason is because all of the fifteen expressions of praise which are arranged in Yishtabach were learned in the midrash from Shirat Hayam and from those verses of Vayivarekh David."


            In any case, since the recital of these verses (from "Viyvarkhu shem kevodekha" until Shirat Hayam) is of late origin, they may be omitted in cases of a late arrival to synagogue.


NOTE:  The passage begins in mid-verse (Nechemia 9:5).  This is a source of puzzlement to the Acharonim (the Ya'avetz even says that it should not be said, for this very reason).  The Magen Avraham (472:8) writes in the name of the Kolbo that one need not refrain from reciting an incomplete verse in Ketuvim, but only in Torah and Nevi'im.  The Tzelota De-Avraham (p. 219) explains in accordance with Tosafot (Sukka 38b regarding the partial verse "Ana Hashem hoshi'a na") that since the verse is said antiphonically by two people, it is permitted to say half of it (since one person said this half).


            Another surprising custom involves the chazan stopping after "u-matzata levavo ne'eman lefanekha" which, too, is the middle of a verse (Likkutei Maharich 56b calls it a minhag which is difficult to understand; see also the Tzelota De-Avraham, pp 219-220).  It appears that the chazan should not make a substantial pause at that point, instead continuing immediately (aloud) with "ve-kharot imo ha-berit."




            In Temple times, the Levi'im sang Shirat Ha-yam as an accompaniment to the daily afternoon offering (as indicated in Rosh Hashana 31a).  After the Temple was destroyed, a difference in custom developed between Babylonia and Israel.  In Babylonia only the shortened version of Shirat Ha-yam that is found within the berakhot of Keriat Shema ("Mi kamokha ba-elim Hashem") was said, while in Israel the entire poem was recited (Machzor Vitri, siman 265; Yesodot Ha-tefilla, p.136).


            With the passage of time, the Babylonian community began to include Shirat Ha-yam in their prayers on Shabbatot and holidays (R. Natronai Gaon, Sefer Ha-itim p. 249).  R. Sa'adia Gaon writes that "there are those who follow the custom" of saying Shirat Ha-yam, and this is indicated as well by the Rambam (Hilkhot Tefilla 5:13).  The Zohar (Beshalach, 54) says that it should be recited daily, as does the Manhig (siman 24).


            It is clear that the inclusion of Shirat Ha-yam is of relatively late origin and is not one of the "songs of Your servant David" which generally make up Pesukei De-zimra.


            Consequently, the halleluyas, Vayivarekh David (until "le-shem tif'artekha"), and Hodu (until "ve-hallel la-Hashem") take precedence over Shirat Ha-yam.  However, Shirat Ha-yam certainly comes before the verses from Nechemia, which were included even later (and perhaps constitute an introduction to Shirat Ha-yam), and the assorted verses in Hodu and Yehi Khevod.


            [The Arukh Ha-shulchan, however, who has a different order of priorities from that of the majority of Acharonim, inserts Shirat Ha-yam after the halleluyas.]


NOTE:  While the inclusion of Shirat Ha-yam is of late origin, it nevertheless is of great importance to say it with concentration and with joy.  Writes the Mishna Berura in the name of the Zohar (51:17): "One should say Shirat Ha-yam with joy, imagining to himself that on that very day he crossed the sea.  And one who recites it with joy has his transgressions forgiven."




            This psalm is mentioned neither in the early siddurim nor in the Rishonim, and is apparently an addition from about three hundred years ago (Netiv Bina p.36; Tzelota De-Avraham p. 147).  It was apparently joined to the recital of korbanot in order to convey the idea that although we are currently unable to bring offerings, our yearning to do so is like an offering itself - just as David, who longed to build the Temple but did not do so, nevertheless has the Temple referred to as his ("chanukat ha-bayit le-David" - Tzelota De-Avraham there).


            [The Netiv Bina (p. 136) cites a hypothesis of R. Avraham Berliner that the custom was originally to say this psalm only on Chanuka, but with the passage of time the note which limited its recital to Chanuka was lost.]


            It is clear that this psalm comes last on the list of priorities for the latecomer.




            Some of these psalms were said daily (Beit Yosef siman 50 regarding "Ha-shamayim mesapperim"), and some added by the Ge'onim for Shabbat.  Therefore, on Shabbat the daily psalms take precedence (in brief, the order after the weekday psalms is: "La-menatzei'ach," "Le-David," "Tefilla le-Moshe").


            Nishmat, though, as we have seen, is mentioned in the Gemara (apparently, on weekdays we shorten it to Yishtabach), and therefore it has the same status as Barukh She-amar, Ashrei, and Yishtabach, and may not be omitted (M.B. 52:5; Biur Halakha 281 s.v. U-vekhol). 


            [However, the Yechaveh Da'at (vol. V, siman 5, in the note) writes that it is permitted for a latecomer to skip it, and that Pesukei De-zimra take precedence over it).




1) Barukh She-amar, Ashrei, Yishtabach (and according to the Arukh Ha-shulchan, Mizmor Le-toda as well), and on Shabbat - Nishmat;

2) Hallelu e-l be-kodsho;

3) Hallelu et Hashem min ha-shamayim;

4) The rest of the halleluyas;

5) Vayivarekh David (until "le-shem tif'artekha");

6) Hodu la-Hashem (until "ve-hallel la-Hashem");

7) Shirat Ha-yam.




1) Pesukei Dezimra should be said at a tranquil pace (Shulchan Arukh 51:8).  The Arukh Ha-shulchan writes: "One should not say Pesukei De-zimra with haste but rather one word at a time.  And if others are rushing and he wishes to pray along with the congregation, it is preferable to skip than to recite with them hastily; and regarding this it was said, 'Better a little with concentration than much without concentration.'"


2) According to the Kabbalists, one should not omit Pesukei De-zimra even for the sake of tefilla be-tzibbur - prayer together with a minyan of ten - "because one who does so overturns the [heavenly] pipelines" (see Kaf Ha-chayim siman 52).  To be sure, we rule that one does skip in order to pray with the tzibbur, but this is not a desirable solution.  Therefore, it is important to arrive on time and not have to skip (according to the Kaf Ha-chayim, if there is a later minyan, one must wait and pray then).


3) If one has skipped and then sees that he has extra time, the Igrot Moshe writes (OC vol. II, 16) that the arranged order of Pesukei De-zimra is le-khat'chila - obligatory only if one has not started yet.  Be-di'avad, if one has already started and skipped some, he may go back and complete the psalms he missed (see what we discussed last time regarding one who did not concentrate properly for the verse "You open Your hand" in Ashrei).


4) If the omissions will not enable one to pray Shemoneh Esrei together with the tzibbur, they are forbidden.  What if he will not reach Shemoneh Esrei in time but will reach chazarat ha-shatz - the repetition?  The Peri Megadim (Eshel Avraham, end of siman 52) appears to indicate that praying with the shatz (the cantor) is not the same as praying with the tzibbur, and this is the opinion of the Igrot Moshe (OC III:9, though in his opinion such a tefilla is slightly preferable to praying alone).  But the Eshel Avraham Mi-Butshatsh (siman 52) believes that chazarat ha-shatz does count as tefilla be-tzibbur, as does the Chazon Ish (19:7) as well as the Yabia Omer (vol. II, 7:4-6).  Attempt to determine the opinion of the Mishna Berura in 52:7.


5) The Igrot Moshe writes (OC IV:91) that one may skip parts of Pesukei De-zimra in order to teach Torah to pupils, or in order to get to work on time if he works for others, or, if self-employed, when there is a possibility of loss.  Of course, all this is only be-di'avad - if one is already in such a situation, but one should take care not to find himself in such a situation.


6) Ashkenazic women say the berakha over Pesukei De-zimra.  However, in cases of necessity they may skip Pesukei De-zimra altogether.  See M.B. 70:2 where he writes that the main function of Pesukei De-zimra is for the sake of Shemoneh Esrei and thus they are obligatory for women.  However, in the Sha'ar Ha-tziyun 70:4 he notes that from the Shulchan Arukh Ha-rav it appears that women are exempt.  This latter opinion is held as well by the Arukh Ha-shulchan 70:1, and therefore in cases of necessity they may skip it.


            Sefardic women, according to the Yabi'a Omer (vol. II, 6; and in Yechaveh Da'at vol. III, 3), should not say Barukh She-amar and Yishtabach with "shem and malkhut" - i.e., the mention of God's name and kingship inherent in the words "Hashem ... Melekh ha-olam."  However, the Tzitz Eliezer (IX, 2) permits them to say the berakhot in their entirety, as does R. Ben Tzion Abba Sha'ul (cited in Halikhot Bat Yisrael, chapter 2, notes 22 and 26).


7) R. Natronai Gaon (cited in the Tur) writes that Pesukei De-zimra may not be said after tefilla.  The Beit Yosef undertsands this to refer only to the berakhot of Barukh She-amar and Yishtabach; the psalms themselves, however, may be said after tefilla, and would that one recite them all day long.  And thus he rules in the Shulchan Arukh, siman 52.  However, the Arukh Ha-shulchan (52:5) believes that R. Natronai Gaon (who was discussing one who said the "short version" of Pesukei De-zimra - Barukh She-amar, Ashrei, and Yishtabach) did indeed mean that the psalms may not be said after tefilla, because they were instituted to be said specifically beforehand.


            In practice, see M.B. 52:9 who rules that they should be said after tefilla.  It should be noted, however, that in this case it is perhaps advisable, as a matter of public policy, to rule like the Arukh Ha-shulchan, for otherwise there is a general tendency to arrive late and skip parts of the service regularly.



(This shiur was translated by Pnina Baumgarten.)