At the end of Yishtabach, Hashem is referred to as הבוחר בשירי זמרה. This is usually translated as "who chooses songs of praise." However, as far as I am aware zimra means song, not praise. So how can it say "songs of song." What does שירי זמרה mean?
I've only heard one drash from chasidut, I don't remember what book, about it being shayarei zimra, the remnants of song. But I don't remember it well.

  • The sh'yare zimra explanation is in the commentary in the ArtScroll sidur, which I don't have here so I can't tell you whom it's quoting, but he says IIRC that God looks at what we take with us from having said p'suke d'zimra. (That is, of course, not the translation.)
    – msh210
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 15:57

2 Answers 2


R' S.A. Wertheimer (in Beur Shemos Hanirdafim, vol. 1, pp. קכז-קכח) defines שיר as vocal song, and זמרה as instrumental music. So שירי זמרה, he says, would mean the combination: שירים that are said along with זמרה.

On the other hand, the usual translation you cited, that זמרה means praise, comes from Avudraham (cited there). It would then be related to the use of the same word in Gen. 43:11 (מזמרת הארץ), "the praiseworthy products of the Land."

  • The first answer is problematic because שירי is smichut, and thus according to Wertheimer's definitions, the phrase would come out meaning something like "the vocal songs of instrumental music."
    – Mark
    Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 7:17

I don't have a source for this, but is it possible it is referring to Tehillim? That would be a song which has praise. I think a follow up question to this explanation would be which of the Tehillim is it referring to. I will try to do some research into that.

  • I think you misunderstood the question. It's not "what songs of praise are there," it's "why is בשירי זמרה translated as 'songs of praise' when it really means 'songs of song?'"
    – Mark
    Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 7:15

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