Our Sages reveal that 2,000 years ago a piece of paper was seen falling from the heavens. Inscribed on it were the eighty-seven words that constitute the Baruch She’amar prayer. After this incident, the Great Assembly decided that Baruch She’amar should be the opening blessing to Pesukei D’zimra (Mishna Berura 51,1).
The Arizal writes that when a man recites Baruch She’amar, he should hold the two front tzitzis of his tallis in his right hand. After completing this prayer he should kiss these tzitzis (ibid.). What can we learn from this custom?
We begin the morning prayers by reciting Korbanos, paralleling the sacrificial service in the Temple. Baruch She’amar marks the transition into the next section of the prayers. Lifting up tzitzis represents lifting ourselves up from the section of Korbanos to that of Pesukei D’zimra (Rabbi Munk, “The World of Prayer”). In fact some have the custom to hold their tzitzis from the start of the V’Yivarech David passage until the conclusion of Pesukei D’zimra¸ in order to mark the transition to the Shema section of the prayers (Siddur Ish Matzliach).
On Tisha B’Av, we mourn the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash and the cessation of the sacrificial service. Although we are obligated to say the Korbanos as part of our prayers every morning, at this time we are meant to feel their loss more than on other days. In order to demonstrate our mourning and show that since we no longer have real Korbanos we cannot make a proper transition, a man does not lift up his tzitzis during Baruch She’amar on Tisha B’Av (Abudraham).
Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org