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Perek Shirah

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Perek Shirah (Hebrew פרק שירה, lit. "Chapter of Song") is an ancient Jewish text. It contains 84 sections, in each of which elements of creation, beginning with the celestial and ending with dogs, use biblical and rabbinic verses in order to sing God's praises. Use of Perek Shirah used to be prevalent in the daily liturgy and medieval philosopher Joseph Albo wrote that whoever recites Perek Shirah is guaranteed a place in the World to Come[1]. Though Perek Shirah means "Chapter of Songs", the book is actually organized into six chapters. Many of the utilized verses make mention of the speaker. For example, the song begins with the heavens who say, "the heavens speak of the glory of God, and of His handiwork the skies tell." (Psalms 19:2) This, however is not a rule, as the book ends with the dogs who say "come, let us prostrate and bend our knees, and kneel before God our maker" (Psalms 95:2). Though this mentions an action that dogs physically perform, it doesn't specifically mention them by name. It also includes verses based upon actions, such as giving the reaction of a cat before and after it catches a mouse as well as the response of the mouse[2].

The vast majority of the verses of Perek Shirah are biblical, and most of these are from the book of Psalms, but there are also a few verses from the Babylonian Talmud[2][3].

In modern times, Perek Shirah does not often appear liturgically. However there are many publishers who publish Perek Shirah as a separate entity, anywhere from a wallet-sized booklet to full-sized coffee table books complete with pictures illustrating each of the characters speaking to God.


  1. Bacher, Wilhelm; Judah David Eisenstein. "SHIRAH, PEREK (PIRKE)". Jewish Encyclopedia S. Retrieved 3 February 2009. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Slifkin, Rabbi Nosson (2003). Perek Shirah. Retrieved 3 February 2009. 
  3. Slifkin, Rabbi Nosson (29 March 2005). "The Circle of Life" (in English). Current Issues: Science & Medical. Aish. Retrieved 2009-02-04. 

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