Parshas Beshalach.


The laws of Pesuke Dezimra – the thanksgiving verses of prayer.


1. One of the important parts of the morning prayer is Pesuke Dezimra. We recite a number of pslams and other verses from the Torah and finish with Shir Shel Yam – the song that Moshe and the Jewish people sang after crossing the See of Reeds. In general the prayers that we recite make rectifications in the spiritual worlds. Each person is capable of rectifying what is applicable to his soul. The four worlds that are closest to us are called “Asiya” – doing, “Etzira” – making, “Beria” – creating and “Atzilus” – closeness. To rectify the world of Asiya we pronounce the morning blessings and read the passages that have to do with the Temple service. Since this is the world of action, we pronounce verses about physical action for its rectification. To rectify the next world we pronounce Pesuke Dezimra – this is the world of speech, we have to concentrate on the main theme of this section of prayer – all living is praising the Creator. To rectify the world of Beria we pronounce Shema. This is the world of thought and we have to concentrate on subduing our thoughts to accept the yolk of Heaven. At last, the silent prayer Shemone Esre corresponds to the world of Atzilus – closeness to the Creator. This prayer is pronounced so quietly that only we can hear ourselves. During this prayer we can connect to the Creator on the most intimate level.


2. Our sages instituted a blessing before the Pesuke Dezimra and a blessing after. Before Pesuke Dezimra we pronounce the prayer “Boruch Sheomar” – this deep mystical prayer contains many secretes of Kabbalah but its simple meaning is thanking the One Who promises and fulfills. After this blessing is pronounced we are not allowed to talk until after Shemone Esre. It is customary to hold the front tzitzis during this blessing and afterwards to kiss them and let them go.


3. The main part of Pesuke Dezimra is 145th Psalm – Ashre. Afterwards we pronounce the following five psalms until the end of the book of psalms. The one, who came to the synagogue late and can only catch up and pray Shemone Esre with everybody if he skips, should skip the other parts of Pesuke Dezimra and only say Boruch Sheomar, the six psalms and the blessing after – Ishtabach. If there is not enough time even for that he should say Boruch Sheamar, Ashrey, psalms 148 and 150 and Ishtabach, if there is no time for that – then only Boruch Sheomar, Ashre and Ishtabach.


4. During the Pesuke Dezimra one is allowed to answer Amen on any blessing heard. If one finished the Pesuke Dezimra and is waiting for the congregation he can meanwhile learn Torah from a book without pronouncing the words.


5. The last blessing of Pesuke Dezimra starts with the words “Ishtabach Shimcha Laad Malkenu” – “may Your name be praised forever, our King”. In this prayer we pronounce 13 praises of the Creator corresponding to the 13 times the word Boruch appears in Boruch Sheomar.


6. Ten Jewish men over thirteen years old constitute a miniyan and can pronounce together Kadish, Kedusha and Borchu. Thus, in case of communal prayer after Yishtabach Kadish and Borchu are pronounced. Women are not counted for a miniyon. The general reason for this is that each woman is a world of her own – the women in general work less in groups and the “glory of the daughter of the king is inside”. Kadish is pronounced between various sections of prayer, in general the Kadish is used to connect the spiritual worlds rectified in different parts of the prayer. In this case the Kadish is separating Beria from Etzira. Sometimes Kadish is pronounced by the prayer leader, at other times Kadish is said by someone in the congregation for a deceased relative. It is a great mitzvah to answer Kadish – the main response is “Amen. Ehe Shme Raba Mevorach Leolam Uleolme Almaya” – May His great Name be blessed for ever. These words contain 28 letters corresponding the work Koach – the strength of the Creator.


7. During the morning and evening prayers Borchu is pronounced. This is an invitation to bless the Creator. It is very important to answer Borchu, even someone who is saying Shema (except for the first verse) should interrupt in order to answer Borchu and Kadish.


The laws of the commandment to remember what Amalek did to us and destroy this nation and its ideology.


1. After we went out of Egypt a very unusual nation attacked us. The reason for their attack was neither financial nor political. They had no reason to be afraid we would take their land – our path laid far from them. Their reason to hate us stemmed from their hatred to Godliness and morality himself. This nation tried to fight against the very concept of the existence of the Creator and thus they fought against the nation that represents Him – the Jewish people. The Torah teaches us that Amalek’s philosophy will continue to exist until the end of days and will only be destroyed after the coming of Moshiach. Our goal is to protest and fight against such an outlook on life – the outlook of atheism and attributing everything to chance. The Torah tells us to always remember what Amalek did to us.


2. Our sages teach us that we face Amalek every time a great rectification is about to happen. Just as when two people are fighting and one is ready to defeat the other, the second gathers his last strength to push him away, so too when our nation is ready for great achievements, Amalek is sent to stop us. The first time Amalek met us when we were about to receive the Torah. The second time – before the establishment of David’s dynasty. The third time – Haman the Amalekite tried to destroy our nation before the building of the Second Temple. The Talmud teaches us that if our nation will not be worthy in the end of days another Haman will try to destroy us. This will remind the Jewish people who they are and cause us to come back to the Creator. As it is known, Hitler demonstrated all the qualities of Amalek and in reality the Baaley Teshuvah movement to return to Torah observance started after WWII.


3. The Torah commands us to read the passage “Zachor” – remember what Amalek did to you. We read these verses on the Shabbos before Purim. According to some opinions the women are also obligated to hear this passage and therefore most women even if they usually don’t go to the synagogues on Shabbos do come that week.


4. Many people mention six things we need to remember after the daily prayers, one of them is the remembrance of what Amalek did to us. According to Arizal when we recite the blessing before the morning Shema and say the words “You brought us close to Your Great Name”, we should remember about Amalek who tried “diminish” the Divine Name. This is why the Torah actually uses a two letter name instead of the main four letter name when describing the episode of Amalek.