Pesukei D’Zimrah: Elul: Baruch Sh’Amar
It is a universal custom to hold in one’s right hand the 2 sets of Tzitzit that hang in front while reciting Baruch Sh’amar (Magen Avraham, Orach Chaim 51:1)
The Zohar (Volume 3, 120b) teaches that mitzvot need both action and word. When we wake up, and begin to function on the most practical level, we combine the action of washing our hands with the words of the blessing, “Al netilat yadaim.” The morning blessings guide us as we connect all our basic physical functions to their spiritual source.
We are now prepared, as we begin Pesukei D’Zimrah to enter the world of Yetzirah, Formation, meaning the world as an opportunity to use all its ingredients to form new physical and spiritual realities. At this point too, we must combine action and word. Baruch Sh’amar is the speech, grabbing our Tzitzit is the action that accompanies the word.
Tzitzit remind us of all the commandments and how they connect to Heaven. The action we use to accompany our words as we enter the world of Formation is one that reminds us that all our actions in the world of Formation must be informed by the mitzvot and how they connect us to Heaven (Rabbeinu Chaim Vital, Peri Eitz Chaim; Gate of Shema, Chapter 1).
It is inevitable that we experience a disconnect between our “reality” and Heaven after all the destruction of Tisha b’Av. It is therefore essential as we entered the month of Elul, the month of Teshuvah, the month in which we reconnect to God, that we reinforce in our minds the connection between our physical actions and the spiritual worlds.
It is not enough to hold our Tzitzit as we recite Baruch Sh’amar. We should state our intention to use this action as part of our Teshuvah process; to reinforce our awareness of the connection between our actions and Heaven.