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The song "Tzur MiShelo", generally printed in Bentchers, Siddurim, Zimronim, etc., as a Friday night song, follows the pattern of Bentching (grace after meals), praising G-d and praying for redemption, in the order of the blessings therein.

I have heard some say that you should not sing the song, at least in its entirety, prior to Bentching, because you would fulfill the Biblical requirement of Bentching and reciting the formal Bentching would, in essence, be saying unnecessary blessings, which is prohibited.

However, not everyone practices this stringency, and I'm sure many don't even know about it, and furthermore, someone wrote the song for a reason, right?

Furthermore, I know some communities (I'm using community on the micro-level here to mean groups of people not related who gather for prayers and meals together, not the macro-level of entire synagogues and/or neighborhoods or groups of neighborhoods that share common resources like synagogues, schools, Mikvaoth, etc.) who specifically sing this song as part of their introduction to Bentching. I don't know if this is a widespread custom or limited to those I've encountered who do so, but they are primarily Middle Eastern.

  • Other than the opinion of the GR"A, cited above, does mainstream thought follow the opinion that you shouldn't recite it prior to Bentching, or do they dismiss that approach (and if the latter, why)?

  • Is the custom to recite it as an introduction to Bentching based on something? Is it widespread?

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+1. I don't remember who said this (and don't necessarily consider him authoritative), but I've heard that it's good to (or one must?) have specific intent not to fulfill his obligation of bikas hamazon by saying "Tzur mishelo". –  msh210 Jan 20 '12 at 16:12
    
@GershonGold I referenced that question in mine. I am asking a broader question, including, "hey, does anyone hold like him?" –  Seth J Jan 20 '12 at 17:21
    
See Siah Yitzchak 161 and 284. –  Hacham Gabriel Jan 20 '12 at 17:53
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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It should be clear to anyone with a Shulchan Aruch that one can certainly bentch after having sung this song. Consider these factors, all of which the Shulchan Aruch says leaving out would require you to redo your bentching, and all of which are missing in Tzur Mishelo:

  • You must mention both Brit and Torah (OC 187:3)
  • You must mention the Kingship of the House of David (OC 187:4) [it never says 'melech' in Tzur Mishelo]
  • You must mention Retzei or Yaaleh VeYavo as appropriate (OC 188:6) [this only applies to the relevant meals which is most of the time]
  • You must mention both God's name and His Kingship in every blessing (OC 214:1)

To further support my position, consider two other issues which the Shulchan Aruch debates ("yesh omrim") if you need to redo your bentching if you left these out:

  • You must have positive kavana to fulfill the mitzva (OC 60:4)
  • You must have a chatima (a conclusion to the blessing) for every blessing (OC 187:1 and MA ad loc)

And even in these cases were one to say that the d'oraita requirement has been fulfiled (my opinion is that this can be argued well for the 3rd and 5th issue) then you still would be required to say all the blessings anyway as a rabbinic enactment.

However you spin it, there is surely sound basis to say the entire bentching after singing Tzur MiShelo according to the Shulchan Aruch.


In terms of my personal experience, I have never seen anyone be careful about this except in jest. I sing Tzur Mishelo often at my shabbat table.

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+1 great points. But there is always the Gaon R' Chaim MiVolozhin who would refrain. I would assume he knows this as well. But nevertheless great points. –  Hacham Gabriel Jan 20 '12 at 20:42
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So... Mahloketh you and R' Chaim? Just kidding. In all seriousness, though, would there be a problem of fulfilling your obligation on the biblical level and then forcing yourself into a position in which you are required to use the name of HaShem for the DeRabbanan? –  Seth J Jan 20 '12 at 20:57
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@HachamGabriel Many Gedolim have had chumrot that worry about different shitot in the rishonim that are not brought in Shulchan Aruch. I am only talking according to Shulchan Aruch. –  Double AA Jan 20 '12 at 21:31
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@SethJ Not that I know of. We use God's name for rabbinic brachot almost all the time (I mean that literaly -- only birkat hamazon is deoraita!) –  Double AA Jan 20 '12 at 21:32
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@SethJ I wouldn't say he had a serious objection. He had slight worry and was personally machmir. I bet even he would still bentch if he accidentally sang tzur mishelo. –  Double AA Jan 22 '12 at 0:32
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Siah Yis'haq (Siman 284) says there is certainly reasons not to say it. What's interesting is what he writes:

וכמו"כ הובא בספר שערי רחמים, שהגר"ח מוואלאזין לא אמר פיוט צור משלו, באשר יש פקפוק אם לברך אח"כ ברכת המזון

Rav Haim MeVolozhin didn't say it because there is a Safek if you can say Birkat HaMazon afterwards.

On the other hand, I read in an Artscroll Birkon that this Zemer may be ascribed to Rashbi therefor it seems Meshubah to say it.

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Doesn't this contradict your comment on the question? –  Seth J Feb 9 '12 at 4:43
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@SethJ yes, because I only found this after I wrote the comment. –  Hacham Gabriel Feb 9 '12 at 4:51
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Ok, I was just checking. I think the comment had value. Maybe you could add it ("on the other hand...") to your answer. –  Seth J Feb 9 '12 at 4:57
    
The more common concern is not to continue eating after Tzur Mishelo, as it can be considered an introduction to birkas hamazon. –  LazerA Feb 9 '12 at 14:29
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The fact that all the Sidurim and Bentchers practically print this song shows that most people have no issue with singing Tzur MiShelo.

In addition I know of at least two Chasidishe groups that they sing it at the Friday night Tisch prior to Bentching.

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Gershon, that's true, but my question is, does the objection warrant scrutiny, why was it written, why ignore the objection to it, etc. Also, at the Tisch, haven't they Bentched beforehand? –  Seth J Jan 20 '12 at 17:40
    
@SethJ - No, the hasidim eat with their families, and then go over to the tish (without saying birkat hamazon first), eat shirayim (leftovers) from their rebbeh, and then say birkat hamazon all together. –  Adam Mosheh Feb 9 '12 at 1:43
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I down-vote this because if Siddurs say something it doesn't mean really anything (see En Yitzhak). Also, because a few people do it it doesn't mean it is correct. –  Hacham Gabriel Feb 9 '12 at 1:48
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