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    P’sukei D’Zimrah – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why are the early morning Psalms called P’sukei D’Zimrah? Doesn’t the verb z-m-r mean to cut?

    A. Z-m-r means both to sing, hence the translation of P’sukei D’Zimrah as “passages of song”, and to cut, hence the P’sukei D’Zimrah could be understood as cutting away the destructive forces that could affect our day.

    Many of the Psalms are titled Mizmor, but to translate the word as ‘song” does not always work. Thus Psalm 79, Mizmor L’Asaph (A Song of Asaph) is no cheerful song but a harsh description of the destruction of Jerusalem. If we render Mizmor in the sense of cutting off, the title indicates the subject-matter: the enemy has cut off the spiritual and national lifeline of the Jewish people, and we pray that God will cut them off and punish them for their misdeeds.

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