04. Is the Recitation of Pesukei De-zimra Obligatory?

Originally, during the time of the Tanna’im, the recitation of Pesukei De-zimra was considered to be a pious act, praised by the Sages. The Sages instituted opening Pesukei De-zimra with Barukh She-amar and ending it with Yishtabaĥ. As time went on, the practice spread until it became an obligatory custom, and now all Jewish men open their prayers with Pesukei De-zimra (Peninei Halakha: Prayer, ch. 14 n. 1).

Women, though, are exempt from the recitation of Pesukei De-zimra because the passages are dependent on time (the time for their recitation is before Shaĥarit), and women are exempt from positive time-bound mitzvot. Still, some poskim say that since women must pray the Amida, they also must recite Pesukei De-zimra in preparation. Nevertheless, according to most poskim, even though women must pray the Amida, they are exempt from the preparations and introductions that are not requisite for prayer and concerning which the rule exempting women from time-bound commandments applies. Halakha follows this position, and women are not obligated to recite Pesukei De-zimra, though those who wish to enhance the mitzva may to say it, along with its berakhot, so as to prepare for prayer more completely (as explained above, ch. 2 n. 10). 1

  1. MB 70:2 states that according to R. Akiva Eger women must recite Pesukei De-zimra, for those verses are recited as preparation for prayer. However, SHT notes that according to SAH 70:1 women are exempt. The truth is, many wonder how MB infers from R. Akiva Eger that women must recite Pesukei De-zimra. Some teach (Halikhot Bat Yisrael 2:7 and Ishei Yisrael 7:10) that in practice women must pray Pesukei De-zimra since MB tends to rule that way. Beirur Halakha (Zilber) vol. II, OĤ 70 states this as well and proves it from the words of Maharil. However, according to the overwhelming majority of poskim, women are exempt from the recitation of Pesukei De-zimra, and so state SAH 70:1, AHS 70:1, Yeĥaveh Da’at 3:3, and Maĥazeh Eliyahu §15. Moreover, there are those who say that women must pray one prayer a day and are permitted to fulfill their obligation with Minĥa. Still others say that they are only obligated to recite Birkhot Ha-shaĥar and Birkhot Ha-Torah, as explained above, 2:3-4, and many practice this way (see Halikhot Shlomo 2 n. 5). It is thus clear that women are exempt from Pesukei De-zimra.