01 – Is It an Obligation to Recite the Korbanot Passages?

Every morning before prayer, we have the custom to recite the passage of the Tamid offering. However, Chazal did not officially institute this practice, and therefore, its recital is not considered to be an absolute obligation. Still, the recital of the Tamid passage is based on Chazal’s words in the Talmud (as will be clarified further). Moreover, the Chachamim established the time of the Shacharit prayer to correspond to the morning Tamid offering. Therefore, Jews have been accustomed to recite the Tamid section every day and its recital eventually became obligatory.

Likewise, it is correct to recite the passage of the Ketoret (incense) every day before prayer, for it too, was brought daily. The Zohar (Vayakhel 218:2) emphasizes the great benefits from its daily recital. Hence, it is proper that even one who is in a hurry says the passage of the Tamid offering and the verses of the Ketoret.

The remaining paragraphs and prayers printed as part of the Korbanot passages are important as well; however, their recital is not obligatory.[1]

When someone does not have time to say the Tamid paragraph, the verses of the Ketoret, and all of Pesukei d’Zimrah, it is best that he omit Psalm 30 (“Mizmor Shir Chanukat HaBayit L’David,” and Sephardim begin “Aromimcha Hashem”) so that he can recite them. If time does not allow him, he should also omit Hodu LaHashem. It is even permissible to skip Vayevarech David, Az Yashir, and Yehi Chevod in order to recite the paragraph of the Tamid offering and the verses of the Ketoret. This is because the foundation for the recital of the Tamid passage and verses of the Ketoret is in the Talmud, whereas the other passages were added to Pesukei d’Zimrah by the Savora’im and Geonim. However, one may not skip the main parts of Pesukei d’Zimrah, meaning Baruch She’amar, Ashrei through the end of the Halleluyot, and Yishtabach, in order to say the verses of the Korbanot, since those main parts of Pesukei d’Zimrah are obligatory. Those passages are so important that the Chachamim even instituted saying blessings upon their recital.[2]

[1]. After writing that it is best to recite the passages of the Korbanot, Shulchan Aruch HaRav 1:9 writes, “Nevertheless, whoever is capable of understanding and learning need not recite even the passages of Korbanot every day, rather from time to time it is enough to say the paragraph Eizehu Mekoman… If a person knows that an action that he did requires him to bring a certain offering, such as an Olah for the nullification of a positive commandment, or for sinful thoughts of the heart concerning a negative commandment, or a Todah for the four [people] who need to give thanks, he should say the passage of that particular offering immediately when he is obligated to offer one.” However, concerning the Tamid offering in section 48:1 he writes, “All of Israel became accustomed and took it upon themselves as an obligation to recite the passage of the Tamid daily… and it is good to recite the passage of the Ketoret as well… There are those who are accustomed to recite the paragraph, ‘Abayei listed the order of the altar service…’ and Ribon HaOlamim…” There he refers to the custom that the congregation only recites the Tamid passage. This distinction can also be inferred from the Shulchan Aruch because in section 48 it is implied that everyone says the Tamid passage, whereas concerning the Akeidah and the remaining korbanot, he writes (1:5), “It is good to recite it.” Regarding the paragraph of the Kiyor (laver) and the Terumat HaDeshen (passage concerning the removal of ashes printed in Ashkenazic siddurim) and the Ketoret, he writes in section 1:9, “There are those who are accustomed to recite it.” This is also what is implied from the Mishnah Berurah 1:17 where he rules that a mourner does not recite the Korbanot passages. Similarly, on Tishah B’Av (554:7 and 559:20) he says the passage of the Tamid offering but not the other Korbanot. Although according to the Shulchan Aruch 554:4 all the Korbanot are recited, as the Sephardim practice, nevertheless, we learned that only the recital of the Tamid is obligatory in contrast to the recital of the remaining Korbanot.

[2]The source for the recital of the berachot before and after Pesukei d’Zimrah is in the enactment of Anshei Knesset HaGedolah or the Tanna’im (see further in this book, chapter 14, note 1), and they were instituted to be said on the praise we give Hashem. The most important praise is the Psalm “Tehillah L’David” (Ashrei), as explained in Berachot 4b, and next are all the Halleluyot, which continue until the end of Psalms, as clarified in Shabbat 118b, according to the interpretation of the Rif and the Rosh. The source for the recital of the Tamid passage is in the Gemara in Ta’anit 27b and in Megillah 31b. However, it is not mentioned there as an obligation or even as a daily custom, and no berachah is recited upon it. Therefore, the main parts of Pesukei d’Zimrah precede the Tamid passage in order of importance.The first Psalm that may be skipped is Mizmor Shir Chanukat HaBayit (Sephardim begin from Aromimcha), because its recital only began approximately 300 years ago as a continuation of the recital of the Tamid. If one must skip more, he should skip Hodu LaHashem, since the basis for its recital lies in the custom to recite it when the Tamid offering was brought in the Temple, and therefore it was customary to recite it after reciting the passage of the Tamid. If so, certainly the recital of the Tamid is more important than the recital of Hodu. Yehi Chevod, Vayevarech David, and Az Yashir are additions from the time of the Savora’im and Geonim, and therefore it seems that the recital of the Tamid, whose source is in the Talmud, is more important than their recital. There is a difference in importance between the passage of the Tamid and that of the Ketoret. See Mishnah Berurah 554:7, who rules that on Tishah B’Av, Pitum HaKetoret  is not recited, for it is not part of the prayers of that day, but the Tamid passage is recited. (Although according to Kaf HaChaim 559:48 it is recited, still, we learn from the Mishnah Berurah that there is a difference in their levels of importance). Just like the Tamid, where only the verses are recited, regarding the Ketoret too, it is permissible in times of need to fulfill the obligation of its recital with verses alone, and one can suffice with reciting Chazal’s additions on the Ketoret at the end of the prayer service (see further in this book, 23:5, note 5).

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