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Pesukei de-Zimra


PESUKEI DE-ZIMRA (Aram. פְּסוּקֵי דְזִמְדָא; lit. "verses of song/praise"; cf. Shab. 118b; Soferim 18:1, ed. Higger), in the Ashkenazi rite, the Psalms and cognate biblical passages recited in Shaḥarit immediately following the morning *benedictions; the Sephardi, Yemenite, and Italian designation is Zemirot. The liturgical pattern requires meditation prior to formal prayer (Ber. 32a, cf. Bet. 5:1) in order to achieve the required state of mind; the recitation of the Pesukei de-Zimra is in place of such meditation (Tosafot ad loc.). The Ashkenazi practice is to enclose the Pesukei de-Zimra between the two blessings, Barukh she-Amar and Yishtabbaḥ. On weekdays, they comprise i Chronicles 16:8–36, plus a lectionary of 23 verses from Psalms; Psalm 100; another lectionary, mostly from Psalms, beginning Yehi khevod; Psalms 145–50; a doxology formed by the final verse of Psalms 89, 135, and 72:18–19; i Chronicles 29:10–13; Nehemiah 9:6–11; and Exodus 14:30–15:18, 19, plus three divine kingship verses. On Sabbaths and festivals, Psalm 100 is omitted while Psalms 19, 34, 90, 91, 135, 136, 33, 92, and 93 are added before Yehikhevod. Also the prayer *Nishmat kol ḥai is recited before Yishtabbaḥ.

There is considerable variation in the other rites, especially for Sabbaths and festivals, reflecting the relatively late development of a custom not mandated by the Talmud. The expression pesukei ("verses") rather than pirkei ("chapters") suggests that "originally not whole Psalms but selections from them were prescribed" (J. Mann in huca, 2 (1925), 276). Lieb-reich distinguished two stages of evolution: before the inclusion of Psalms 145–50, and thereafter. The sages lauded "those who complete the Hallel [Psalms] daily" (Shab. 118b). Special merit was attached to reciting Psalm 145 (*Ashrei). Psalms were publicly recited in both Temples, but Pesukei de-Zimra did not become integral to synagogue worship until geonic times. Only a reader and two respondents are required for their public recitation (Mid. Ps. 113:3).


Abrahams, Companion, xxix–xxxix; Elbogen, Gottesdienst, 81–87; K. Kohler, Studies, Addresses and Personal Papers (1931), 141–6; Idelsohn, Liturgy, 80–84; Liebreich, in: paajr, 18 (1948/49), 255–67; idem, in: jqr, 41 (1951), 195–206; E. Levy, Yesodot ha-Tefillah (19522), 132–8.

[Herman Kieval]

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