I've heard a few different opinions on this. During longer prayer services, such as Shacharit on Shabbat, at least in Nusach Sefard, Pesukei D'Zimrah is quite long and there is a tendency for the chazzan where I daven to pray ridiculously fast. I'm fairly proficient at Hebrew, but there is literally no way that I could possibly enunciate every word clearly at that speed (and I have serious doubts that the chazan can either), let alone try to keep up.

I have heard from a friendly source that it's not completely necessary to say each and every word during certain parts of the prayer service, but I can't vouch for the correctness of this. I do know for sure that during specific parts of the service, extreme care must be taken to enunciate each and every word clearly and separately, namely the Shema.

Specifically, I have two questions:

  1. Are there parts of the prayer service where it isn't strictly necessary to pronounce or say each word, and if so, what are they?
  2. If one simply sits through the prayer service, says "amen" to the blessings when they come (baruch she'amar etc.), says his Shema clearly out loud, and pronounces each word of the "silent" Shemoneh Esrei, has he fulfilled the mitzvah of tefillah?

I'm looking for specifics here, and a tertiary question I might offer is whether this all applies when one is praying alone. I know that whenever I end up praying alone and I'm not being rushed, I make my best effort to pray every single word in the siddur clearly.


7 Answers 7


I have a similar issue and come to davening 10 minutes earlier, with my goal being to start shemone esre with the minyan. If I come "on time", I treat myself as coming late to the minyan and abide by those laws:

It doesn't seem as though listening to the chazan would work, since he is slurring his words as well.


The Aruch HaShulchan (OC 62:1) in discussing how exact one must be when reading the Shema writes:

וכך שנו חכמים במשנה (טו א): קרא ולא דקדק באותיותיה – יצא. ופירש רש"י: שלא דקדק לפרשן יפה בשפתיו. עד כאן לשונו. ואין הכוונה שלא פירש התיבות והאותיות כלל, כגון שאמר חצי תיבות וכיוצא בזה. דוודאי בכהאי גוונא לא יצא, שאין זה קריאה כלל. אלא כוונתו כמו שפירשו הרמב"ם והרע"ב בפירוש המשניות: שלא דקדק בהפרדת האותיות הדומות, או שהניח הנע והניע הנח, וכיוצא בזה. דבכהאי גוונא – יצא.
The Rabbis taught in a Mishna: If he read it but wasn't exacting in [pronouncing] its letters, he has fulfilled his obligation [post facto]. Rashi there explains "wasn't exacting" to mean "to pronounce them well with his lips". And his intention must not be that he didn't pronounce the words and letters at all (for example if he said only half of the word) for certainly in that case he has not fulfilled his obligation, for this is not a reading at all! Rather, the intent must be as exaplained by the Rambam and Rav Ovadiah of Bartenura in their commentaries to the Mishna: that one was not careful regarding slurring together similar letters or regarding the rules of shva na' and shva nach and other [minor] errors, for in that case he has fulfilled his obligation. (translation and emphasis mine)

If one only pronounces parts of the word he does not fulfill his obligation for any prayer as it is not even considered reading. It's possible that some parts of prayer are only optional, but even for those, one must say the words if he wishes to fulfill said option.

In terms of fulfilling one's obligation in blessings with the prayer leader by responding 'amen': that is a viable option when praying with a minyan; however, he must be sure to hear every word from the leader in order to fulfill his obligation. For the blessings of Shemoneh Esrei, this only works if he is unable to recite the blessings himself. (Shulchan Aruch OC 59:4)

  1. Generally speaking, the obligation during shema is to hear the words that you say (also true for shemone esri, though I dont know why there). I would assume that since there is a specific rule for those parts of davening that one must say and be able to hear himself, that is not the case for the rest of davening. That does not mean that it is not preferable to be able to hear oneself, but it is not strictly nessisary.

  2. Absolutely. As a semi-proof when the gemara talks about tephila, they only mean shemoneh esri, so that is sufficient. In addition, psukei dezimra is a much later "invention" than the rest of davening, so clearing it is not needed to fulfill one's obligation. It was implemented so that one would be in the right state of mind for shema, shemoneh ersi.

  • Interesting. Can you get some references? Also, let's take this to the furthest logical extent: if I were to study Gemara the entire time through Shacharit, saying "amen" in all the right places, and davening my Shemoneh Esrei, would I have fulfilled my obligation to pray? Commented May 29, 2011 at 18:37
  • There is a concept of "shomiah k'oneh" so you might not even have to say amen. For sure, you do not actually have to say shemoneh esri as that is what chazarat hashatz is for (originally at least), I don't think that you can get away with not saying shema though. Will look it up and get back to you with more details.
    – soandos
    Commented May 29, 2011 at 19:01
  • @soandos, I don't understand #2. Firstly, a semi-proof doesn't ring as absolutely. Secondly, what do you mean by only shemone esre is sufficient. The mishna in brachos requires birchos krias shema here: hebrewbooks.org/shas.aspx?mesechta=1&daf=11&format=pdf. Thirdly, shomea k'one will work, but one exception is the repetition of tefila which was instituted to include specifically those who cannot daven themselves (MB/PM"G here: hebrewbooks.org/…) This would apply, for example, in a minyan w/o siddurim and one who can't by by heart.
    – YDK
    Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 0:03
  • You have to hear the words you say, (even during shemona esrei) because if you don't say the words outloud, so you can hear them, then they were never said, only thought.
    – avi
    Commented Jul 11, 2011 at 6:14

It's probably better to come earlier so that you can say all of pesukei d'zimrah at your own speed. Most likely the chazzan is going pretty fast through pesukei d'zimrah, but then slows down a bit after that, saying keriat shema and its berachot at a tolerable speed for you.

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    Many minyanim are like that, but TK is a ger (potential?) and the minyan would probably still be too fast.
    – YDK
    Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 0:17
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    As far as Geirus, yes, working on it :) I'm getting better, just moved into a huge community and I'm getting faster. Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 2:07
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    @YDK: Was it really necessary to point out that the poster is a ger and then to cite that as the reason many minyanim would go too fast for his ability? There are many, many people who are not gerrim who either cannot daven that fast or who choose not to daven that fast for the very reasons the original poster cited in the first place. Namely, some people like to be careful about saying the words as if they were actually talking to God, which is an interesting concept to apply to prayer, yes?
    – Shemmy
    Commented May 31, 2012 at 11:33
  • @Shemmy, TK has mentioned his (potential) gerus in other posts. My comment seems appropriate for Chanoch's post. Your idea is, nevertheless, a good point as a stand-alone comment.
    – YDK
    Commented Jun 1, 2012 at 18:11

Lechatchilla one has to say every word.

If one came late (and will miss Shmone Esrei with a minyan), technically one skip parts of Psukei Dezimra (See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 14:6) and say them after davening (even though one isn't allowed to come late and rely on this hetter).

Even though saying Amen is considered as if saying the blessing, we don't rely on it for long blessings because people don't have as long attention spans as they used to in the time of the gemarah, and if one doesn't pay attention to the blessing, one doesn't fulfill his obligation through amen.


From my understanding, Hhaza"l says "pasuqei dha-zimra" or "shirei zimra" is something mashubohh (praiseworthy), not that it is an obligation. Therefore the blessings before and after are not something you are obligated to say unless you say pasuqei dha-zimra. As for what is precisely in it is different depending on nusahh. I believe the original order was "borukh sha-omar" and "yahi khavodh" followed by Tahillim 145-150 and "wayyomar dowidh" and ending with the brakha of "yishtabahh shimkho lo`adh". Rambam mentions that some have the custom of singing shirath hayyam as well. Obviously today, most people say much more than all of that. Therefore with this knowledge, you may be able to say a lesser amount of pasuqei dha-zimra than what is in your sidur.

Shamayou are of course obligated to, with its brakhoth, and of courseAmidho as well.


There are only 2 parts of the tefilah that are completely mandatory. Shemah and Shemona Esrei. Psukei dizimrya and the associated brachot are advisable and good things to say, but they are not required for the mitzvah of Tefilah. (Anymore than any other bracha you say during the day)

Saying amen to the brachot is sufficent for everything, save Shema and Shemonah Esrei (since they are separate mitzvot, and not simple brachot), unless you are in dire need, then saying Amen is ok as well.

Now, when saying Psukei Dizimra, it is not ok to be careless with your words. However, it is ok to skip entire verses or paragraphs if necessary. You should always be careful with what you say, and you should try your best to understand the words you are saying.

Again, better to skip entire sections of davening, then to slur your words just to "keep up". Also, if the prayer you are reading is a Psalm or a verse from Tanach, be sure to finish the verse completely before deciding to move on to the next paragraph. I know some people will read just the first and last verse of the Halleluyahs when trying to catch up.

If you want to know which sections to say and which to skip when "catching up", I would suggest a new question,.

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    "There are only 2 parts of the tefilah that are mandatory. Shemah and Shemona Esrei." Pardon?? Do you have a source for this? My understanding is that "Psukei dizimrya and the associated brachot" are mandatory also (though halacha has specific exclusions for, e.g., someone who arrives late to prayers). Moreover, if p'suke d'zimra are not mandatory then why "when saying psukei dizimra, it is not ok to be careless with your words"? I don't have to be careful with my words when reading chumash aloud.
    – msh210
    Commented Jul 10, 2011 at 4:59
  • It's very simple. A minor or a woman is allowed to lead Psukei Dzimra. They are not a part of prayer, any more than saying Ahser Yatzar after going to the bathroom, or saying the brachot in the morning for putting on your shoes, walking out the door, opening your eyes etc. However, they are still part of a bracha. (not all brachot are tefilot). Birkat hamazon is not a davening. Also, you DO have to be careful with your words when reading Chumash aloud, what makes you think you aren't? You also must say quotes in their entirety. I'll ask what your source is that Psukei Dzimra Is prayer!?
    – avi
    Commented Jul 11, 2011 at 6:05
  • I guess this goes back to judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/8598. See WAF's answer and my comment there.
    – msh210
    Commented Jul 11, 2011 at 6:45
  • @HodofHod Why the capitalizations?
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 1, 2012 at 19:27
  • @DoubleAA I edited because the "pslam" was bugging me, and because the question was already on the front page. While I was there I capitalized any proper nouns I noticed.
    – HodofHod
    Commented Apr 1, 2012 at 20:21

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