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Peninei Halakha > Prayer > 14 - Pesukei d’Zimrah > 06 – The Order of Preference Regarding Omissions

06 – The Order of Preference Regarding Omissions

We learned in the previous halachah that one must always recite Birkat Elokai Neshamah and Birkot HaTorah before saying the Amidah, put on tallit and tefillin, say Baruch She’amar, Ashrei, and Yishtabach, and continue onwards to Birkot Keriat Shema. Therefore, if one who is late for prayer can say those passages and still succeed in praying with the chazan, he should omit all the other parts of prayer in order to pray with the minyan, and after the prayer service make up what he missed. If he has more time before prayer, he must familiarize himself with the order of importance concerning the berachot and Psalms, so that he will know what to recite first. We will therefore outline the order of importance.

First, one should recite all the remaining Birkot HaShachar. Even though b’dieved, it is possible to complete them after the prayer service, in any case, since it is an absolute obligation to say them, and because the Chachamim say (Berachot 60b) that the time to recite them l’chatchilah is when one wakes up from sleep, they should be said earlier than all the Psalms and the Korbanot.

When a person has more time, he should include additional Psalms according to the order of their importance. Although all the Psalms and verses are important, nevertheless, for the sake of prayer, there are Psalms that have more significance than others and those that have less, and we will list them in order of their virtue. Most valuable after Ashrei are the two Psalms that open with “Halleluyah Hallelu” (Psalms 148 and 150). According to Rashi (Shabbat 118b), they are the main part of Pesukei d’Zimrah, and Rabbi Yossi praises those who recite them every day.

Following them in virtue are all the Psalms which begin and end with “Halleluyah.” According to the Rif and Rosh, they are called Pesukei d’Zimrah in the Talmud (Shabbat 118b), and Rabbi Yossi praises those who recite them daily. Therefore, when there is more time, one must say all the Psalms from Ashrei straight through until after the words “Kol haneshamah tehallel Kah Halleluyah.

After them in virtue are the verses of the Tamid offering and the verses of the Ketoret, because the source for their recital is based on the Talmud (Ta’anit 27b), in which it is written that anyone who recites the passages of the sacrificial offerings, is considered as if he actually brought them as offerings.

Following them in importance is Vayevarech David (Mishnah Berurah 52:4). After that, there are varying opinions concerning which prayer should be recited first and the person praying can decide.

On Shabbat, Nishmat precedes all the Psalms that begin with “Halleluyah” because it is part of Yishtabach. Subsequently, the passages that are regularly recited every day precede the passages added especially for Shabbat, for precedence is always afforded to the more frequent mitzvah.[10]

Here is the place to add that even one who must pray individually, and shorten his prayer so that he will not be late to work, should shorten it according to the aforementioned instructions. For example, a teacher who wakes up late and must get to his students on time should shorten his prayer according to these guidelines (Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim, part 4, 91:2).

[10]. Avnei Yashfeh 9:14 and Halichot Shlomo 6:7 discuss the precedence of Birkot HaShachar to the rest of the Pesukei d’Zimrah passages. Further, we shall add that the Al Netilat Yadayimberachah may not be recited after the Amidah either, but there is no need to write that above, since it is normally recited at home before drying one’s hands. The correct minhag is to recite Asher Yatzar and Elokai Neshamah immediately after that. Therefore, it is most important to remember to recite Birkot HaTorah before praying, but if one did not, he fulfills his obligation in Ahavat Olam, as explained earlier in this book, 10:2, and note 2.The Mishnah Berurah 52:5 writes, based on the Chayei Adam 19:6, that Nishmat is Birkat HaShir (the Blessing of the Song), and therefore precedes all the rest. Avnei Yashfeh 9:13 writes that if one does not have time to recite Nishmat, he must pray in order, for its virtue is exactly like Baruch She’amar, Ashrei, and Yishtabach. However, he notes that the Beit Baruch expresses doubt concerning this. Indeed, a number of Acharonim write that any Psalm recited every day precedes Nishmat, for they are more frequently recited (as written in Yechaveh Da’at 5:5, in the note). Rav Mazuz writes in his Hagahot Ish Matzliach that Nishmat precedes all the Halleluyot, but is not like Yishtabach and Ashrei. That is the intermediate opinion and it is what I have written above.

See further in Avnei Yashfeh chapter 9, where he summarizes the order of precedence according to the Ashkenazic and Sephardic wordings. In addition, see Aruch HaShulchan who suggests a different order. Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, in his siddur, p. 76 presents a different order, based on Rav Pe’alim. I have not discussed this at length here, because most people do not remember all the details. Additionally, since all the other Psalms that are recited became customary after the Talmud, it is unnecessary to be so strict regarding the order of their importance.

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Editor: Nechama Unterman