Any book of zemiros whether it's a siddur, birchon, or what have you divides the zemiros between the three meals. Sometimes the rationale is obvious as with the tikkunim which are written for each meal. Sometimes they seem arbitrary like Kah Ribbon. My question is twofold:

  1. Who decided on the placement of the zemiros?
  2. Is there a unified set of rules for what makes one song a "night zemer" and another a "day zemer?"
  • 3
    FWIW, Sepharadim do not follow the same set of "rules" (if you can call them that) as Ashkenazim when it comes to which Zemiroth are sung at which meals.
    – Seth J
    Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 22:27
  • 1
    Especially since sephardim have a different collection of zemiroth for the shabbat table in general with a pretty small overlap with ashkenazim. In my house we sing which ever ones we feel like from either set regardless of which meal we're at
    – Yitzchak
    Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 23:21
  • 1
    This doesn't answer your question, but it's interesting nonetheless: link. Possible source for zemiros at all three meals and observed minhag to sing Ha'aderes v'ha'emuna and hinei lo yanum at seuda sh'lishis. (Never heard of that second one.) Dates about three hundred years ago.
    – jake
    Commented Jan 30, 2012 at 2:27
  • related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/1246/759
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 7:18
  • related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/53879
    – msh210
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 9:34

3 Answers 3


I have not found a source.

I would like to suggest that from the subject matter of the zemiros some could possibly be assigned to Friday night as follows.

“Menucho vesimcho” mentions the sixth day, “ki leshisho kol beruim veomdim”.

“Mah Yedidus” speaks about the evening “mai’erev mazminim”.

“Mah Yofis” cites being ready before Shabbos “nechonim mib’oid yom”.

“Yom Shabbos Kodesh Hu” mentions the two angels that accompany us home from shul Friday night “umalach kail ya’ane boruch”

and “Yom Ze LeYisroel” talks about the completion of creation on the sixth day “beshaishes kiliso meleches olomim”.

“Tzomo Nafshi” seems to be a preface to “Nishmas” and might be assigned to Shabbos day.

“Koh Ribon Olam” seems not to be assignable.

“Koh ecsof noam” has a phrase about waiting for Shabbos kodesh to arrive “shomrei umetzapim Shabbos kodesh” and so can be justified for Friday night.

I could find not reason to assign the Shabbos day zemiros, except perhaps the mention of the “Lechem Haponim” (which were divided between the kohanim on Shabbos day) in “Ki Eshmero”.

  • 1
    Interesting idea. +1
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 30, 2012 at 18:32
  • 4
    Some of these seem tenuous, but going along with the thesis, how about "Baruch Hashem yom yom" and "Yom ze m'chubad" for the day just because of their first lines, "D'ror yikra" because of "sh'vu v'nuchu v'yom shabas", and "Shimru shabsosay" because of its chorus "shabas hayom lAshem"?
    – msh210
    Commented Jan 30, 2012 at 18:38
  • Bounty awarded! I think, btw, that the day songs may have no pattern but just aren't night songs. In fact I've seen bentchers that specifically say 'some repeat tzur mishelo and kah ribbon at lunch'.
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 6, 2012 at 1:36

This is my own thoughts. Perhaps the composer of each song composed it specifically for the meal it is sung at.


I have no source for this:

The division of zemirot between night and day is fairly arbitrary, but the essential issue is to separate the songs sung on Friday night, as Shabbat comes in, from the songs sung at Shalosh Seudos / Havdalah, when Shabbat goes out.

This is to prevent confusion later in the week, if one is away from the Jewish community and needs to remember when Shabbat is. Keeping the songs separate helps prevent "off by one day" errors.

  • 3
    does this mean that if I sing Shabbat Day LUNCH songs at Friday night DINNER I may think I already finished Shabbat? Seems a bit of a reach to me. Commented Jan 30, 2012 at 13:36
  • @morahhochman, not at all--but say that in your community, "Ki Eshm'ra Shabbat" is sung at lunch, and sometimes at Seudah Shlishit. But in your home, you sometimes sing it on Friday night. One Shabbat, you sing it on Friday night. After Shabbat you leave on a camping trip, without calendars or electronics. Towards the end of the week, you forget which day it is, but luckily you remember that 5 nights ago you sang Ki Eshm'ra. That's a Shaleshudos song, so tomorrow night must be Shabbat. Right?
    – JXG
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 8:22

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