The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit
The Laws of Prayer
Yeshivat Har Etzion
22: Prayers Recited After Shemoneh Esreh
week we examined some of the prayers recited after the Shemoneh Esreh. We discussed Kedusha De-sidra, which plays a central role in the
"U-va le-Tziyyon" prayer. Regarding Aleinu, we traced its origins, as well
as its role in the Jewish-Christian polemics of the Middle
week, we will conclude our study of the prayers recited after Shemoneh Esreh as we investigate the origins and
significance of Shir shel Yom and Pittum Ha-ketoret.
shel Yom (Song
of the Day):
last mishna in Tamid (7:4)
enumerates the psalms which the Levites would recite each day in the Beit Ha-mikdash (Temple), after offering
the tamid shel shachar. The
tamid was a lamb offered twice daily in the Temple (Bamidbar
28:4), in the morning (shachar) and afternoon (bein
ha-arbayim). The Gemara (Rosh Ha-shana 31a) explains why each
chapter was chosen to be recited on each specific day.
earliest record of specific psalms being identified with certain days may be
found in the Book of Tehillim itself,
as 92:1 introduces the psalm as a "song for the Sabbath
the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Bible by seventy-two Jewish elders
(Megilla 9a-b), introduces certain psalms with the day upon which they
were recited by the Levites in the Beit
originally only the Levites sang Shir
shel Yom as the korban tamid was offered, Massekhet Soferim (18:2), after citing
the source from Tamid, adds, "one who
mentions the verse in its proper time is considered as if he has built a new
altar and brought a sacrifice upon it."
the Machzor Vitry (pg. 712) cites the Talmud Yerushalmi (Ta'anit 4:5), which questions whether Shir shel Yom may be recited "without
libations," i.e., outside the sacrificial service, concluding that one may do
so. We preface each psalm as that
which "the Levites used to say in the Beit Ha-mikdash."
Rambam, in his Nussach Ha-tefilla, found at the end of Sefer
Ahava, writes that SOME are accustomed to recite Shir shel Yom. However, the Siddur of Rav Amram
Gaon simply instructs that one should recite Shir shel Yom.
are different customs regarding the recitation of Shir shel Yom. According to the Ashkenazic custom (Rema
OC 123:2), Shir shel Yom is
recited AFTER Aleinu. According the Sephardic custom, one
recites Shir shel Yom immediately
following the Kaddish of "U-va le-Tziyyon," and only afterwards
does one recite Aleinu.
Shir shel Yom corresponds to the song
recited with the tamid shel shachar,
one might question why we do not recite it at Mincha as well, as the tamid shel bein ha-arbayim, which Mincha reflects, was offered in the
afternoon. Indeed, the Mishna (Rosh Ha-shana 4:4) implies that Shir shel Yom was recited at Mincha too!
Mishna Berura (122:16) explains that in the Beit Ha-mikdash they often
omitted Shir shel Yom at Mincha, as the libations brought with
the tamid shel bein ha-arbayim often lasted until
the Arukh Ha-shulchan (123:2) explains simply that as reciting the song of the
day is merely a "remembrance" of the practices in the Beit Ha-mikdash,
one daily recitation suffices.
days upon which Tefillat Musaf
is recited, some communities recite Shir
shel Yom after Shacharit and
before the Torah reading, while some recite it after Musaf (see Magen
the Ramban (Shemot 20:7) posits that
whenever one refers to a weekday by its ordinal (e.g., referring to Tuesday as
"the third day," counting toward Shabbat), he fulfills the Biblical commandment
to remember the Sabbath. Thus, we
fulfill a mitzva when we recite Shir shel
Yom with the introduction "Today is the _______ day of the
Ha-ketoret (The Incense
Torah (Shemot 30:34-36) instructs
that incense must be offered as part of the daily service.
God said to Moshe: "Take for yourself sweet spices — stacte and onycha and
galbanum — sweet spices with pure frankincense; they are all to be of equal
weight. You shall
make of it incense, a perfume after the art of the perfumer, seasoned with salt,
pure and holy. You
are to grind some of it finely and place some of it before the Testimony in the
Tent of Meeting, where I will meet with you; it shall be for you most
Siddur conflates passages from the Talmud Bavli (Keritot 6a) and Talmud Yerushalmi (Yoma
4:5) and describes the composition and the preparations of the Ketoret. This text is reciting each morning,
after the Biblical passage of incense, cited above, as part of the unit of Korbanot.
in the Siddur of Rav Amram Gaon, we find that one recites the Pittum Ha-ketoret AFTER the Tefilla, with no mention of the custom
of reciting Korbanot BEFORE Shemoneh Esreh. Apparently, the custom of reciting Korbanot BEFORE Tefilla — specifically, before Pesukei De-zimra — developed later.
addition to reciting Pittum Ha-ketoret BEFORE Pesukei
De-zimra, many still recite the Ketoret passage after the final Kaddish, next to Shir shel Yom.
Beit Yosef (132) cites the Mahari Abuhav, who writes that one should read the Ketoret passage from a text, lest one
omit one of the spices and incur the death penalty, as the Talmud
(Keritot 6a) teaches, "and if he omits one of the spices, he incurs the
death penalty." He adds that
possibly due to this reason, many omit the recitation of the Ketoret entirely. The Beit Yosef disagrees; he notes that
according to Rashi, the "death penalty" is clearly referring to one who offers a
deficient incense on Yom Kippur! While the Rambam (Hilkhot Kelei Ha-mikdash 2:8) implies that this
punishment applies even during the year, he attributes it to the fact that by
omitting a spice, one is considered to have entered the Beit Ha-mikdash
improperly, which certainly does not apply to the mere recitation of Pittum
Rema (132:2) writes that one should recite Pittum Ha-ketoret twice daily, morning and
afternoon, after the Tefilla (as the incense was also offered twice
daily). He adds, however, that due
to the concerns expressed by the Mahari Abuhav, cited above, congregations
commonly omit Pittum Ha-ketoret on
weekdays, as people are generally rushing to work and unable to recite the
passage with proper precision.
those who pray according to the Ashkenazic custom outside of Israel generally
omit Pittum Ha-ketoret during the week, it is
customary in Israel, possibly due to the instructions of the Vilna Gaon to his
students who settled in Israel, for all to recite this
Acharonim disagree as to whether Shir
shel Yom should precede Pittum Ha-ketoret. The Rema (123:2), following the Tur
(123) and the Siddur of Rav Amram Gaon, places Pittum Ha-ketoret BEFORE Shir shel Yom. The Arizal (see Kaf Ha-chayyim
48), however, based upon a Kabbalistic understanding of the order of the
prayers, would recite Shir shel Yom
BEFORE Pittum Ha-ketoret.
is preceded by the poem "Ein k-Elokeinu" ("There is none like our
God"). Rav Tzidkiyya ben Rav
Avraham Ha-rofeh, in his Shibbolei Ha-leket (Inyan Tefilla 1),
citing Rashi, explains that "Ein
k-Elokeinu" comes to compensate for the net loss of twelve blessings in the
Shemoneh Esreh of Shabbat and Yom Tov, when the
Shemoneh Esreh is comprised of only seven and not
nineteen blessings. In order to
fulfill the mitzva of reciting one hundred blessings each day (Menachot
43b), the recitation of "Ein k-Elokeinu" was instituted on Shabbat and
Yom Tov. The first three lines of "Ein k-Elokeinu" spell out an acrostic
of "Amen," while the last two lines begin with "Barukh" and
"Atta" respectively; thus they represent the basic components of a
standard blessing. Multiplied by
the four iterations within each line, we end up with a dozen extra "blessings,"
so that the total remains the same as on a weekday.
the Pittum Ha-ketoret, we recite a passage from
Tanna De-vei Eliyyahu, cited in the Talmud (Nidda 73a), which extols one
who studies halakhot each day.
we recite the final passage of Tractate Berakhot 64a (as well as
Yevamot, Nazir and Keritot!), which
Elazar said in the name of Rabbi Chanina: "Talmidei chakhamim increase
peace in the world as it says (Yeshayahu 54:13), 'And all your children
shall be taught of God, and great (rav) shall be the peace of your
some have cynically pointed to this passage as an example of Talmudic humor, Rav
Kook (Olat Re'iyya, pg. 330) explains:
are many who mistakenly think that world peace will be brought about through
uniformity of opinions and characteristics, and therefore when they see scholars
investigating wisdom and knowledge of Torah, and through this study different
aspects and opinions emerge, they believe that this causes dispute, which is the
opposite of peace. The truth is
otherwise, that true peace can only emerge through the proliferation of peace,
and the proliferation of peace entails seeing all the aspects and
this message is not only crucial upon completing a tractate of Talmud, within
which we witness the scholarly debate of the sages, but even upon concluding our
prayers, before venturing into the world around us.
week will begin our study of the Mincha prayer.