Shabbos Bulletin Parshas Noach 5779

There is a time-honored minhag to say “barchi nafshi” and the 15 shir hamaalos after Minchah on Shabbos afternoon in the winter.

Barchi nafshi describes the wonders of creation, and so we start saying it on Shabbos Bereishis and say it every Shabbos (since every Shabbos commemorates the Creation). On Shabbos HaGadol we say the hagadah instead; and then pirkei avos is said until the next Shabbos Bereishis.

The 15 chapters in Tehillim (120-134) which open with the words “shir hamaalos” (with Ch 121 starting with shir la’ma’alos) also have a connection to the maintenance of the b’ri’ah. When Dovid HaMelech dug the foundations for the Bais HaMikdash, the subterranean waters burst forth, threatening to flood the Earth. Dovid HaMelech succeeded in subduing the waters; he then recited the 15 chapters of shir hama’alos (a song of Ascents) to raise the waters many hundreds of amos, bringing them nearer to the surface of the earth, where they would be beneficial for vegetation.