Nishmat
Soul Of


Nishmat kol chai t'vareich et shimcha Hashem Elokeinu, v'ruach kol basar t'faeir utromeim zichr'cha malkeinu tamid
The soul of every living being shall bless Your Name, Hashem, our G-d; the spirit of all flesh shall always glorify and exalt Your remembrance, our King.

Min ha-olam v'ad ha-olam atah Kel, umi-baladecha ein lanu melech goel u-moshia
From this world to the World to Come, You are G-d, and other than You we have no king, redeemer or savior.

Podeh u-matzil umfarneis umracheim b'chol et tzarah v'tzukah, ein lanu melech ela atah
Liberator, Rescuer, Sustainer and Merciful One in ever time of distress and anguish, we have no king but You!

Elokei harishonim v'ha-acharonim, Elokah kol b'riyot, adon kol toladot, ham'hulal b'rov hatishbachot, ham'naheg olamo b'chesed uvri-yotav b'rachamim
G-d of the first and of the last, G-d of all creatures, Master of all generations, Who is extolled through a multitude of praises, Who guides His world with kindness and His creatures with mercy.

VaHashem lo yanum v'lo yishan
Hashem neither slumbers nor sleeps.

Ham'oreir y'sheinim, v'hameikitz nirdamim, v'hameisiach il'mim, v'hamatir asurim, v'hasomeich nof'lim, v'hazokeif k'fufim, Lecha l'vad'cha anachnu modim
He Who rouses the sleepers, Who awakens the slumbers, Who makes the mute speak, Who releases the bound, Who supports the fallen, and Who straightens the bent - to You alone we give thanks.

Ilu finu molei shirah ka-yom, ulshoneinu rinah kahamon galaiv, v'siftoteinu shevach k'merchevei raki'a, v'eineinu m'irot ka-shemesh v'cha-yareyach, v'yadeinu f'rusot k'nishrei shamayim, v'ragleinu kalot ka-ayalot, ein anachnu maspikim l'hodot lecha Hashem Elokeinu Veilokei avoteinu, ulvareich et sh'mecha al achat mei-olef elef alfei alafim v'ribei r'vavot p'amim hatovot she-asita im avoteinu v'imanu
Were our mouth as full of song as the sea, and our tongue as full of joyous song as its multitude of waves, and our lips as full of praise as the breadth of the heavens, and our eyes as brilliant as the sun and the moon, and our hands as outspread as eagles of the sky and our feet as swift as hinds - we still could not thank You sufficiently Hashem, our G-d, and G-d of our forefathers, and to bless Your Name for even one of the thousand thousand, thousands of thousands and myriad myriads of favors that You performed for our ancestors and for us.

Mimitzrayim g'altanu Hashem Elokeinu, u-mibeit avodim p'ditanu
You redeemed us from Egypt, Hashem, our G-d, and liberated us from the house of bondage.

B'ra-av zantanu, uvsava kilkaltanu, meicherev hitzaltanu, u-midever milat-tanu, u-meichalayim raim v'ne-emanim dilitanu
In famine You nourished us and in plenty You sustained us, from Sword You saved us; from plague You let us escape; and from severe and enduring diseases You spared us.

Ad heina azarunu rachamecha, v'lo azavunu chasadecha V'al tit'sheinu Hashem Elokeinu lanetzach
Until now Your mercy has helped us, and Your kindness has not forsaken us. Do not abandon us, Hashem, our G-d, forever.

Al kein eivarim shepilagta banu, v'ruach unshama shenafachta b'apeinu, v'lashon asher samta b'finu, hein heim yodu vivar'chu vishab'chu vifa-aru virom'mu v'ya-aritzu v'yakdishu v'yamlichu et shimcha malkeinu
Therefore, the organs that You set within us, and the spirit and soul that You breathed into our nostrils, and the tongue that You placed in our mouth - all of them shall thank and bless and praise and glorify and exalt and revere and sanctify and declare the sovereignty of your Name, our King.

Ki chol peh lecha tishova, v'chol berech lecha tichra, v'chol komah l'fanecha tishtachaveh, v'chol l'vavot yiraucha, v'chol kerev uchlayot y'zam'ru lishmecha, kadavar shekatuv: Kol atzmotai tomarnah, Hashem mi chomocha, matzil ani meichazak mimenu, v'ani v'evyon migoz'lo
For ever mouth shall offer thanks to You; every tongue shall vow allegiance to You; every knee shall bend to You; every erect spine shall prostrate itself before You; all hearts shall fear You, and all innermost feelings and thoughts shall sing praises to Your name, as it is written: "All my bones shall say: 'Hashem, who is like You?' You save the poor man from one stronger than he, the poor and destitute from one who would rob him."

Mi yidmeh lach, u-mi yishveh lach, u-mi ya-arach
Who is like unto You? Who is equal to You? who can be compared to You?

Ha-Kel hagadol hagibor v'hanora, Kel Elyon, konei shamayim va-aretz
O great, mighty, and awesome G-d, the supreme G-d, Creator of heaven and earth.

N'halelcha unshabeichacha unfa-ercha unvareich et sheim kadshecha, ka-amur: L'David, bar-chi nafshi et Hashem, v'chol k'ravai et sheim kadsho
We shall laud, praise, and glorify You and bless Your holy Name, as it is said: "of David: Bless Hashem, O my soul, and let all my innermost being bless His holy Name!"



Nishmat is one of the most beautiful poetic adorations in all of liturgical literature, recited as part of the Shacharit (morning) service on Sabbaths and festivals immediately following Shirat Ha-Yam ("Song at the Sea"). It is also said at the Pesach Seder. The first paragraph was known in Mishnaic times, the second was composed during the talmudic period and the concluding part was added during the geonic period. Of unknown authorship, it is partially cited in the Talmud as a prayer of thanksgiving for the rainfall that follows a drought:

Talmud - Mas. Berachot 59b

FOR THE RAIN etc. Is the benediction for rain ‘Who is good and does good’? Has not R. Abbahu said — some say it has been taught in a Baraita: From when do they say the blessing over rain? From the time when the bridegroom goes out to meet his bride.16 What blessing do they say? R. Judah said: We give thanks to Thee for every drop which Thou hast caused to fall for us; and R. Johanan concluded thus: ‘If our mouths were full of song like the sea . . . . we could not sufficiently give thanks unto Thee, O Hashem our God, etc.’ up to ‘shall prostrate itself before Thee. Blessed art Thou, O Hashem, to whom abundant thanksgivings are due’.17 (Is it abundant thanksgivings and not all thanksgivings? — Raba said: Say, ‘the G-d to whom thanksgivings are due’. R. Papa said: Therefore let us say both ‘to whom abundant thanksgivings are due’ and ‘G-d of thanksgivings’.

16  I.e., when the drops commence to rebound from the earth.
17  V. P.B. p. 125.

Talmud - Mas. Taanit 7a

R. Abbahu said: When do we [begin to] recite the benediction over rain?27 When the bridegroom goes forth to meet the bride.28 What benediction should one recite? — Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: ‘We give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, our God for every single drop which thou hast caused to fall upon us’. And R. Johanan concluded the benediction thus: ‘Though our mouths were full of song as the sea, and our tongues of exultation as the multitude of its waves, etc.!’ until, ‘Let not Thy mercies forsake us O Lord, our God, even as they have not forsaken us . Blessed art Thou to Whom abundant thanksgivings are due’. ‘Abundant thanksgivings’ and not ‘all the thanksgivings’? — Raba replied: Read, ‘The God to Whom thanksgivings are due’. R. Papa said: Therefore we should say both ‘the God to Whom thanksgivings are due’ and ‘to Whom abundant thanksgivings are due’.

27  Cf. Ber. 54a.
28  When the accumulated rain-water rebounds to meet every additional drop of rain as it falls.


The phrase "thousand thousand, thousands of thousands and myriad myriads of favors" probably refers to the drops of rain, each drop being considered as a separate favor. The Talmud calls this prayer Birkat Ha-Shir (the "Blessing of Song"), even though it is not technically a blessing since it does not contain the standard blessing formula.

The "Song" referred to in the Talmudic name for this prayer may be all the songs of praise in Pesukei d'Zimra (Verses of Praise). This view is supported by the fact that Nishmat is said at the very end of the entire section and leads right into the closing blessing for Pesukei d'Zimra. As such, it may be regarded as a preamble to Yishtabach (May Your Name be praised), the closing blessing. Or it may have been called this because it itself is a beautiful song.

Others believe that Nishmat was originally an embellishment to Hallel said at the Pesach seder. This view is based on the Talmudic discussion that calls for reciting Nishmat after Hallel over the fourth cup of wine:

Talmud - Mas. Pesachim 117b-118a

MISHNAH. THEY FILLED THE THIRD CUP FOR HIM. HE THEN RECITES GRACE AFTER MEALS. OVER THE FOURTH [CUP] HE CONCLUDES THE HALLEL, AND RECITES THE GRACE OF SONG.27 BETWEEN THESE CUPS28 HE MAY DRINK IF HE WISHES; BETWEEN THE THIRD AND THE FOURTH HE MAY NOT DRINK.

GEMARA. R. Hanan said to Raba: This proves that Grace after meals requires a cup [of wine]. Said he to him: Our Rabbis instituted four cups as symbolizing freedom:29 let us perform a religious act with each.30

OVER THE FOURTH [CUP] HE CONCLUDES THE HALLEL, AND RECITES THE GRACE OF SONG.

27  The phrase is explained in the Gemara.
28  Viz., first, second and third.
29  This is omitted in Rashbam.
30  Hence Grace is recited over the third. But on other occasions a cup may not be required for Grace after meals.

What is ‘THE GRACE OF SONG’? Rab Judah said: ‘They shall praise Thee, O Hashem our G-d’; while R. Johanan said: ‘The breath of a living [etc.]’1

1  V. P. B. p. 125.

According to the Zohar it was first recited on Shabbat during the Tannaitic period (10-220 C.E.) (Parshat Terumah 138a; Parshat Vyacheil 205b), and according to Rabbaynu Yonah it was instituted as a congregational prayer in the Geonic period (c. 10th century) (Berachot 24a, s.v. Hakoraya Behoda'ah)

This prayer is an outpouring of praise and gratitude to G-d, and depicts our utter dependency on G-d's mercy; our total inadequacy to laud Him properly, and our enthusiastic resolve to dedicate ourselves to His service.

Even though this prayer, which is recited on Sabbaths and Festivals, does not contain any mention to the day, it is still appropriate because the additional holiness of the Shabbat and the time it affords for extra contemplation make man better able to understand and express the message of the Nishmat prayer.




Sources:

  • Artscroll Siddur
  • Encyclopedia Of Jewish Concepts, Philip Birnbaum
  • To Pray As A Jew, Rabbi Donin
  • Soncino Talmud
  • Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer, Macy Nulman

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