Skipping Nishmas

Skipping Nishmas

By Rabbi Ephraim Glatt, Esq.

Question: You arrive late to shul on Shabbos morning and only have time to recite Baruch SheAmar, Ashrei, Yishtabach, and one more mizmor. Should you recite Nishmas or another paragraph of P’sukei D’Zimrah, such as Hallelu es Hashem min HaShamayim?

Short Answer: While the Yalkut Yosef follows the Acharonim who rule that the principle of “Tadir v’sheino tadir, tadir kodem” (the regular or more common precedes the irregular or less common) requires that one of the weekday paragraphs be recited, the Mishnah B’rurah rules that Nishmas be recited.

 

Explanation:

I. Regular vs. Irregular

The Gemara (Sukkah 44b) states that if Rosh Chodesh coincides with Shabbos, only the Shir shel Yom for Rosh Chodesh is recited, and not the Shir for Shabbos. [Note that in those days there was a separate shir for Rosh Chodesh, as is currently the minhag of the Nusach HaGra]. The Gemara then asks: Don’t we always hold “Tadir v’sheino tadir, tadir kodem” (the regular or more common precedes the irregular or less common)? In other words, since we recite the Shir for Shabbos 52 times per year but only recite the Shir for Rosh Chodesh approximately 18 times per year, the Shir for Shabbos should supersede the Shir for Rosh Chodesh and only the Shir for Shabbos should be recited? The Gemara answers that we must recite the Shir for Rosh Chodesh in order to inform the nation of the new month.

Tosafos (ibid.) notes that we see from this piece of Gemara that the principle of “tadir v’sheino tadir, tadir kodem” applies even when the issue is whether the regular, more common prayer will replace the irregular, less common prayer, and not only when the issue is which prayer will precede the other prayer in the order of how they are recited.

II. Application to Nishmas

Based on the above Gemara, the Shalmei Chagigah (cited in the Shaarei T’shuvah, Orach Chayim 281) rules that a latecomer on Shabbos morning who only has time to recite Baruch SheAmar, Ashrei, Yishtabach, and one more mizmor, should recite one of the paragraphs from the weekday P’sukei D’Zimrah, and skip Nishmas, because of the principle of “Tadir v’sheino tadir, tadir kodem.” The Shalmei Chagigah adds another reason to skip Nishmas, as it is the last paragraph normally recited.

Indeed, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (14:7, Lechem HaPanim) brings a proof to the Shalmei Chagigah from the Rambam who notes that Nishmas is simply a minhag, and not a main part of P’sukei D’Zimrah. Additionally, the Yalkut Yosef (Shabbos, Vol. 4, pg. 278-280) follows the ruling of the Shalmei Chagigah, and suggests that the latecomer skip Nishmas.

III. Saving Nishmas

The Chayei Adam (19:6), on the other hand, disagrees with the Shalmei Chagigah, and rules that it is preferable for a latecomer to skip the other P’sukei D’Zimrah (aside from Baruch SheAmar, Ashrei, Yishtabach) in order to recite Nishmas, which is called “birkas shir.” The Mishnah B’rurah (Orach Chayim 52:5) likewise cites the Chayei Adam and rules that the latecomer should skip the other P’sukei D’Zimrah (aside from Baruch SheAmar, Ashrei, Yishtabach) in order to recite Nishmas. See also Biur Halachah (Orach Chayim 281).

Similarly, the Ben Ish Chai (Toldos), as well as the sefer Michtam L’David (13), note the importance of Nishmas, as it represents our extra Shabbos n’shamah (soul). Accordingly, the sefer Otzar Shimon (pg. 72) posits that these Acharonim would presumably agree with the Chayei Adam and Mishnah B’rurah that Nishmas should never be skipped.

IV. What About Tadir?

How do the Chayei Adam and the Mishnah B’rurah explain the Gemara in Sukkos that ruled “Tadir v’sheino tadir, tadir kodem” – that the regular, more common prayer (here, the weekday P’sukei D’Zimrah) supersedes the irregular, less common prayer (here, Nishmas)?

The sefer Giv’as Binyamin (pg. 69) suggests that the Gemara in Sukkos actually supports the opinion of the Chayei Adam and the Mishnah B’rurah that latecomers not skip Nishmas. The Gemara concludes that the Shir of Rosh Chodesh is recited, despite not being the regular, more common prayer, in order to inform the nation of the new month. This shows that any separate important reason trumps the principle of “Tadir.” Thus, because Nishmas represents the extra Shabbos n’shamah, it deserves to be recited despite being the irregular, less common prayer.

Another answer is suggested by the sefer Shalmas Yaakov (Vol. 2, Siman 27) who writes that the Chayei Adam and the Mishnah B’rurah understand Nishmas as being a part of the brachah of Yishtabach, and therefore the issue has nothing to do with the principle of “Tadir.” The latecomer must recite Nishmas because it is part of Yishtabach, not because it has precedence over the other paragraphs of the weekday P’sukei D’Zimrah.

V. Compromise of Rav Sraya Deblitzky

The sefer Zeh HaShulchan (Rav Sraya Deblitzky zt”l, pg. 6) appears to suggest a compromise to this machlokes. After listing the machlokes between the Shalmei Chagigah and the Chayei Adam, the sefer Zeh HaShulchan concludes by listing the order of paragraphs for the latecomer to recite. After listing Baruch SheAmar, Ashrei, and Yishtabach, it lists Hallelu es Hashem min HaShamayim and Hallelu Keil B’Kodsho, and only then lists Nishmas, implying that certain paragraphs of the weekday P’sukei D’Zimrah take precedence over Nishmas, while others do not. [Authors note: I do not understand the basis for this ruling, because it appears to ignore the rule of “Tadir,” while on the other hand not giving proper importance to Nishmas].

Next Week’s Topic: Should the chazan bow when he recites Barchu after Yishtabach/Kaddish? Should the tzibur bow?

Rabbi Ephraim Glatt, Esq. is Assistant to the Rabbi at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills and a practicing litigation attorney. Questions? Comments? Email EphraimGlatt@gmail.com.

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