BARUKH SHE-AMAR (Heb. בָּרוּךְ שֶׁאָמַר; "Blessed be He who spoke"), benediction opening the section of *Shaḥarit called "passages of song," i.e., the morning psalms (Pesukei de-Zimra or Zemirot). In the Ashkenazi rite the benediction is placed at the beginning of the whole section, while in the Sephardi and other rites some verses and psalms are recited before Barukh
she-Amar. In the original Sephardi prayer books (Leghorn, Amsterdam, and Vienna) there is a longer version, with additions for Sabbath. In the Eastern Sephardi rites – according to the Kabbalah – there is a shorter version of 87 words, which is similar to the Ashkenazi rite with slight variations. In its present form it is a combination of two separate prayers of which only the second part can be considered a benediction. The first part is a hymn praising God, the Creator and Redeemer. In spite of numerous variations and later accretions, the prayer may be of talmudic origin. It is first mentioned by Moses Gaon (c. 820) and is found in the prayer book of Amram Gaon (also ninth century), where the prayer is introduced as follows: "When Jews enter the synagogue to pray, the ḥazzan of the congregation rises and begins…" Nathan ha-Bavli reports a century later that at the ceremony of the installation of the exilarch Barukh she-Amar was sung antiphonally, and hence some scholars have suggested that the response Barukh Hu ("blessed be He"), was repeated as a refrain after every clause, and not only for the first one as in the present text. According to Saadiah's Siddur it was recited only on Sabbaths. The style of the hymn is midrashic and most of the phrases used are found in various passages of Talmud and Midrash (see S. Baer, Siddur (1868), 58). Eleazer b. Judah of Worms of the 12th–13th centuries, quoting from the Heikhalot texts of the early mystics, refers to the esoteric significance of the 87 words contained in Barukh she-Amar (at least in the Ashkenazi rite (Rokeaḥ 320)); the extant texts of the Heikhalot do not, however, have this passage. D. *Hoffmann has interpreted the first part of the prayer as an exposition of the various meanings of the Tetragrammaton. In Prague a Barukh she-Amar Society was active from the 16th century until World War II. The members rose early in order to be in the synagogue before the reciting of Barukh she-Amar.
Abrahams, Companion, 31ff.; Elbogen, Gottesdienst, 82ff.; Idelsohn, Liturgy, 80f.; D. Hoffmann, Das Buch Leviticus, 1 (1905), 95ff.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.