03 – Customs and Kavanah Regarding Their Recital

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Pesukei d’Zimrah are to be recited in a relaxed manner and not hastily (Shulchan Aruch 51:8).

Baruch She’amar possesses a special virtue and alludes to sublime matters; therefore, it is customary to recite it while standing (Mishnah Berurah 51:1, Kaf HaChaim 1). According to the Ashkenazic minhag, one also stands while saying Yishtabach, which ends Pesukei d’Zimrah. However, according to the Sephardic minhag, one need not stand (Rama 51:7; Kaf HaChaim 42).

Likewise, it is customary to stand for Vayevarech David until the words “Asher bacharta b’Avram,” out of respect for the Kingdom of Israel founded by King David.[4]

After learning that one of the two reasons for the recital of Ashrei (Psalm 145) is the mention of the verse, “Pote’ach et Yadecha,” (“You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living being”), we understand why this verse must be said with kavanah. If it is recited without kavanah, it must be repeated. Even if one already started reciting other passages, he must say that verse again with kavanah because it is the most important part of Pesukei d’Zimrah. Some say that since he did not have kavanah for that main verse, his recital of the rest of the Psalm is not considered valid either, and he must go back and repeat from “Pote’ach” until the end (Mishnah Berurah 52:16). However, according to most poskim, it is enough to go back and recite only the verse “Pote’ach” by itself (Shulchan Aruch 52:7).[5]


[4].According to the Sephardic minhag, “Hashem Melech Hashem Malach…” is recited twice before Baruch She’amar, and on Shabbat and Festivals it is said while standing. Beit Yosef 50 writes in the name of Shibolei HaLeket 76 that the reason is based on the Midrash which states that the angels said it while standing. However, on weekdays, since people did not have leisure time because of work, they were not accustomed to standing. Nowadays, it is customary to stand even on weekdays.

[5]. In Seder Rav Amram Gaon it is written in the name of Rav Natrunai Gaon that the main goal is to recite the psalm Tehillah L’David at least once a day, and the fact that the Chachamim write three times daily is so that people will not be negligent by not reciting it at all. Therefore, in his opinion, on Shabbat it is only recited twice. This is also the implication from the Rosh chapter 1, section 6, where he writes, “Whoever recites Tehillah L’David every day.” However, in the Gemara before us (Berachot 4b), the version reads, “Anyone who recites Tehillah L’David three times daily – is promised life in the World to Come.” So writes the Rambam, that it is recited three times on Shabbat as well. According to those who maintain that it is sufficient to recite it once a day, the Kaf HaChaim 51:33 writes not to repeat “Pote’ach” in the middle of Pesukei d’Zimrah since this is considered an interruption. Instead one should have kavanah while saying it in the Ashrei after the Amidah. However, according to the majority of poskim, one must make up its recital in the middle of Pesukei d’Zimrah wherever he realizes his lack of kavanah. This is because in addition to taking into consideration the poskim who maintain that it is necessary to recite it three times, the verse “Pote’ach” is the most important verse of Pesukei d’Zimrah (as Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah 23a write) and therefore it must be recited with kavanah specifically between the berachot of Pesukei d’Zimrah. That is what the Mishnah Berurah implies and what the Ben Ish Chai, Vayigash 12, Igrot Moshe 2:16, and Yabia Omer, part 6, 5:6 write as well. According to most poskim, only the verse “Pote’ach” must be repeated, as written in the Shulchan Aruch 51:7, Magen Avraham, Birkei Yosef 5, Shulchan Aruch HaRav 8, and Tzitz Eliezer 12:8. The Mishnah Berurah, based on the Levush and Chayei Adam, rules that one must recite from “Pote’ach” until the end of the Psalm.
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