Different traditions identify different primary components of Shacharit. Essentially all agree that Pesukei dezimra, the Shema and its blessings, and the Amidah are major sections. Some identify the preliminary blessings and readings, as a first, distinct section. Others say that Tachanun is a separate section, as well as the concluding blessings. On certain days, there are additional prayers and services added to Shacharit, including Mussaf and a Torah reading.
Shacharit according to tradition was identified as a time of prayer by Abraham, as Genesis 19:27 states, "Abraham arose early in the morning," which traditionally is the first Shacharit. However, Abraham's prayer did not become a standardized prayer. The sages of the Great Assembly may have formulated blessings and prayers that later became part of Shacharit. However, the siddur, or prayerbook as we know it, was not fully formed until around the 7th century CE The prayers said still vary among congregations and Jewish communities.
Shacharit was also instituted in part as a replacement of the daily morning Temple service after the destruction of the Temple.
Shacharit comes from the Hebrew root שחר (shakhar), meaning dawn.
Traditionally, a series of introductory prayers are said as the start of Shacharit. The main pieces of these prayers are Pesukei dezimra, consisting of numerous psalms, hymns, and prayers. Pesukei dezimra is said so that an individual will have praised God before making requests, which might be considered rude.
The Shema and its related blessings are said. One should "concentrate on fulfilling the positive commandment of reciting the Shema" before reciting it. One should be sure to say it clearly and not to slur words together.
Shemoneh Esrei (The Amidah), a series of 19 blessings is recited. On Shabbat and Yom Tov, only 7 blessings are said. The blessings cover a variety of issues and ethics such as Jerusalem, crops, and prayer.
Tachanun, a supplication consisting of a collection of passages from the Hebrew bible (Tanakh) is said. On Mondays and Thursdays, a longer version is recited. On other days, the extra parts are omitted. The main part of Tachanun is traditionally said with one's head resting on his or her arm.
The service commences as on week-days. In Pesukei dezimra, Psalm 100 (Mizmor LeTodah, the psalm for the Thanksgiving offering), is omitted because the todah or Thanksgiving offering could not be offered on Shabbat in the days of the Temple in Jerusalem. Its place is taken in the Ashkenazi tradition by Psalms 19, 34, 90, 91, 135, 136, 33, 92, 93. Sephardic Jews maintain a different order, add several psalms and two religious poems. The Nishmat prayer is recited at the end of the Pesukei D'Zimrah. The blessings before Shema are expanded, and include the hymn El Adon, which is often sung communally.
The intermediary blessing of the Shacharit Amidah begins with Yismach Moshe and discusses Moses' receiving of the Torah (which according to tradition took place on Shabbat morning). Kedushah, which is always recited during the Hazzan's repetition of the third blessing, is significantly expanded compared to weekdays. After the repetition is concluded, the Torah scroll is taken out of the Ark in a ritual much longer than the ritual during the week, and the weekly portion is read, followed by the haftarah.
After the Torah reading, three prayers for the community are recited. Two prayers starting with Yekum Purkan, composed in Babylon in Aramaic, are similar to the subsequent Mi sheberakh, a blessing for the leaders and patrons of the synagogue. Sephardim omit much of the Yekum Purkan. In some communities, prayers are then recited for the government of the country, for peace, and for the State of Israel.
After these prayers, Ashrei is repeated and the Torah scroll is returned to the Ark in a procession through the Synagogue. Many congregations allow children to come to the front in order to kiss the scroll as it passes.
According to Jewish law, the earliest time to recite the morning service is when there is enough natural light "one can see a familiar acquaintance six feet away." It is a subjective standard. After sunrise and before mid-day is the usual time for this prayer service. The latest time one may recite the morning service is astronomical noon referred to as chatzot. After that, the afternoon service can be recited; it is called mincha.
- Shachrith (Hebrew: שַׁחרִית) – with a שוא נח – in the Yemenite tradition.
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- Media related to Shacharit at Wikimedia Commons