The section of the Jewish prayer book that this series of blogs will be examining is, Pesukei D’Zimrah.
“Pesukei D’Zimrah is translated as ‘Verses of Praise’. However, many commentators relate ‘zimrah’ to the verb ‘tizmor’ – ‘prune’ (Leviticus 25:4). In this view we recite ‘Verses of Pruning’, which are designed ‘to cut away’ the mental and spiritual hindrances.
The Sages taught that one should set forth the praises of God before making request of Him (Berachos 32a)” (Paraphrased and adapted from The Schottenstein Edition of the Artscroll Siddur for Weekdays With Interlinear Translation page 83)
When I was studying for conversion, this section of the prayer book was one of my favorites. As stated above, it is important to praise God first.
The Shema and Shemonei Esrei are the main part of Jewish prayer, matter of fact I have heard the Shemonei Esrei called ‘The Prayer’. Within the Jewish prayer book before the main part of prayer is the Pesukei D’Zimrah – it is there to prepare a Jew before entering into their most sacred on set of prayers.
When one concentrates on these verses before seeking from God first, it is like priming a pump. They will elevate and energize your soul, getting you ready for the rest of your prayer and day.
As I stated in Part 1, my desire for this series is to help provide an aid for your prayers.
I will be quoting from several different Jewish prayer books and commentaries, predominantly from Artscroll Publications.
Pesukei D’Zimrah – Verses of Praise and Pruning:
Pesukei D’Zimrah is introduced by a blessing – Baruch She’amar – Blessed is He Who spoke.
“Blessed is He who spoke, and the world came into being – Blessed is He. Blessed is He Who maintains Creation; blessed is He Who speaks and does; blessed is He Who decrees and fulfills; blessed is He Who has mercy on the earth; blessed is He Who has mercy on the creatures; blessed is He Who gives goodly reward to those who fear Him; blessed is He Who lives forever and endures to eternity; blessed is He Who redeems and rescues – blessed is His Name! Blessed are You, our God, King of the universe, the God, the merciful Father, Who is lauded by the mouth of His people, praised and glorified by the tongue of His devout ones and His servants and through the psalms of David Your servant. We shall laud You, Hashem, our God, with praises and songs. We shall exalt You, praise You, glorify You, mention Your Name and proclaim Your reign, our King, Our God.”
There is a very interesting piece of commentary on Baruch She’amar that I want to bring you.
“Baruch She’amar begins with a series of phrases in which we bless seven aspects of God. Rabbi David Hoffmann, cited and explained in ‘World of Prayer’, asserts that these seven ideas are implied by the Four-Letter Name of God. The Name contains the Hebrew letter that says, “He was, He is, He will be”. It is the Name that symbolizes God’s eternity, mastery of all conditions, and the fact that He brought everything into being and will carry out His will and word.” (Paraphrased and adapted from the Klein Edition Ohel Sarah Women’s Sidder pages 44-45)
- Who spoke, and the world came into being.
- Who speaks and does.
- Who has mercy on the earth.
- Who gives goodly reward to those who fear Him.
- Who lives forever and endures eternity.
- Who redeems and rescues.
- Blessed is His Name!
Noahides, do you see this? We have seven categorical instructions called the Sheva Mitzvot Bnei Noach and here in the blessing before the Verses of Praise we are blessing seven aspects of God before we seek God in prayer.
Go back and with deep concentration, recite out loud the Baruch Shemar and see if it doesn’t begin priming your spiritual pump, it will begin the pruning away of the mental and spiritual hindrances that clog your thoughts and soul. It is the starting point of setting your mind and soul free to communicate with the Creator.
“Blessed is He Who Spoke”
Terry W. Hayes
Photo Credit: Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash