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There is a principle called “Tadir v’she’eino tadir, Tadir kodem” - when presented with something commonly done and something less commonly done, the one that’s done more common takes precedence (Zevachim 89a et. al.).

What determines what is more common? For instance, on Rosh Chodesh Elul, do we say Barchi Nafshi before L’Dovid, since we say Barchi Nafshi during at least 11 months of the year, but we only say L’Dovid during 2? Or do we say L’Dovid first, since Barchi Nafshi is said on at most 20 days of the year, but L’Dovid is said on 51 days; alternatively, Barchi Nafshi is said at the conclusion of at most 20 tefillos, but L’Dovid is said at that of 102? In other words, if item A is more common than item B if you look at it one way, but item B is more common than item A if you look at it a different way, do we consider either one to take precedence, and if so, how to we determine which one?

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  • Coulda sworn we had this question already, but I can't find it.
    – msh210
    Aug 5 '18 at 3:40
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    Does this principle even apply to non-mitzvah-related situations?
    – magicker72
    Aug 5 '18 at 5:02
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    Shir Shel Yom happens every single day of the year. Why would Ledavid come first? @ba
    – Double AA
    Aug 5 '18 at 12:04
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    @Doniel I know. Barchi Nafshi is the Shir Shel Yom for Rosh Chodesh. Shir Shel Yom changes every day but the section of the service is always there. (Ledavid is just some sketchy possibly kabbalistic possibly sabbatean thing to do around now which caught on in the last 150 years. It's hard to even call it a part of traditional prayer, let alone identify which section it belongs in. Not even remotely comparable.)
    – Double AA
    Aug 5 '18 at 12:10
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    I seen in chasidish shuls 2 minhagim in mizmor Shel shabbat and Ledavid before hotsaat sefer Torah for what is the first.
    – kouty
    Nov 11 '20 at 11:21
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This question is similar to the question of lighting Channukah candles on Motzaei Shabbos Channukah. There are different minhagim. Look at the footnotes here, where some poskim hold that havdallah is tadir even though in the micro-time period Channukah is more tadir. This however isn't an exact comparison.

You should also know that some things take precedence over tadir v'ayno tadir e.g. something that is pertaining to a special time period, like the special Yom Tov tefillos before krias HaTorah coming before Brich Shmei even though the latter is tadir. Seeing as how L'Dovid isn't directly due to a special time and the Shir Shel Yom of Rosh Chodesh is due to the special Shir of Rosh Chodesh, that is another reason why it might come first.

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  • Thanks for the sources! I tidied up your post a bit in line with our jargon policy; feel free to edit or rollback if that doesn’t reflect your intent. Also, I’m not clear on what your final paragraph adds to your answer - did you mean to post it as a comment to my question rather than an answer?
    – DonielF
    Oct 17 '19 at 18:20
  • Not everyone holds the question of havdala on chanukka depended on Tadir. (Certainly nowadays when most people no longer just light on their dining room tables for the people inside as was nearly universal in yesteryear when those achronim discussed that, the whole question of Tadir is moot and candles go first so as not to miss people outside.)
    – Double AA
    Oct 17 '19 at 19:46
  • The "Ribbono Shel Olam" some recite on Yom Tov when taking out the Torah was actually composed a couple hundred years ago to be said instead of Brikh Shmei. Obviously not everyone is on board with it in general, but it's totally anachronistic to claim Tadir has anything to do with its placement, as if we originally had these different prayers and then had to decide what order to place them in. It's a modern invention that was deliberately added to the prayers by some at a specific intended place, just like the rabbi speaks at whatever place he decides, not dependent on Tadir.
    – Double AA
    Oct 17 '19 at 19:47
  • A better example of Tadir being overridden by a local holiday event is reciting the blessing on the Sukkah before Shehechiyanu at Kiddush even though Shehechiyanu is Tadir (explicit in the Gemara Sukkah 56a). The other opinion in the Gemara holds Shehechiyanu comes first because of Tadir, but we don't rule that way.
    – Double AA
    Oct 17 '19 at 19:49
  • 1. The Tefilla written by the Ari Zal to be said on Yom Tov was not written to be said in place of Brich Shmei. Rav Ovadia Et. Al. says about the special Yom Tov and Yamim Noraim Tefillos (l'olam dvaricha) that they come before Brich Shmei because it depends on zman. 2. That's neither here nor there. There are those that say it is tadir and this that have other considerations i.e. not doing melacha before havdallah. But you see what is called tadir if the comparison is a good one.
    – Meuchedet
    Oct 18 '19 at 10:15
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There is a similar instance in bentching.

Shulchan Aruch in 188:5 states that Retzei comes before Yaaleh Veyovo on a Shabbos that falls on Rosh Chodesh or Yom Tov. The Mishna Berura (13) says that it's because Shabbos is Tadir.

Now, if you count the amount of times you say Yaaleh Veyovo including in Shemona Esrei it's more than the amount of times that we say Retzei. However, the Mishna Berura uses the word "Shabbos" not "Retzei" seemingly to avoid this problem. It sounds like he means to say that it's not based on the amount of times you say the tefilla but rather the day that causes the tefilla to be said is Tadir (in this case Shabbos vs. Yomim Tovim and Rosh Chodesh).

In fact, in your case of L'Dovid and Barchi Nafshi, the Mishna Berura in 583:2 clearly says that you should say Barchi Nafshi first. The Maateh Ephraim (583:6) says the reason is because it is Tadir since it is said every Rosh Chodesh while L'Dovid isn't said every Rosh Chodesh. R' Yackov Kamenetzky (Emes L'Yackov 1) explains that although L'Dovid is actually said more times than Barchi Nafshi, since it's not because of a day rather just a season, it doesn't become Tadir just by being said more times. Barchi Nafshi is because of the day.

So just like Yaaleh Veyovo vs Retzei, we always look at the amount of days that cause something to be said or done, not the actual amount of times it is done.

P.S. my calculation for more Yasleh Veyovo is as follows: Rosh Chodesh 54 Tefillos 10 meals (4 on Rosh Hashanah and at least 2 shabbos Rosh chodesh per year) Yom Kippur 4 Succos 24 Tefillos 17 meals Pesach 24 tefillos 17 meals Shavuos 6 tefillos 4 meals Total 160 Retzei is 50 times 3 which is 150 Obviously in Eretz Yisroel it's equal, but if someone washes on Rosh Chodesh during the week that would add more Yaaleh Veyovo.

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