The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash
The Laws of Prayer
Yeshivat Har Etzion
Dedicated by Aaron and Tzipora Ross and family in memory of our grandparents
Shmuel Nachamu ben Shlomo Moshe HaKohen, Chaya bat Yitzchak Dovid, and Shimon ben Moshe,
whose yahrzeits are this week.
#09: Birkot Keriat
we discussed the berakhot before Keriat Shema. We focused on their nature and function:
are they birkot
said upon reciting the Keriat Shema, or are
they independent berakhot
'coincidentally' located before the Shema. We also examined a number of practical
ramifications of our question.
This week, I
would like to focus and the berakhot that follow Keriat Shema, as well as the requirement "to juxtapose Ge'ula and Tefilla."
The Gemara (Berakhot 12b) ascribes great importance to the berakha that follows Keriat Shema, "Emet Ve-yatziv." The Gemara teaches:
One who does not say Emet Ve-yatziv in the morning and Emet Ve-emuna in
the evening, has not fulfilled his obligation, as it says (Tehillim
92:3), "To relate Your KINDNESS in the morning, and Your FAITH in the
that the KINDNESS refers to "the kindness God did for our forefathers, as
He brought them out of Egypt
and split the sea and brought them through it", and the FAITH refers to
"the future that we look forward to, in which His promises to redeem us
will be fulfilled."
The Yerushalmi (Berakhot 1:6 and Tur 66) says Emet Ve-yatziv
must be comprised of "the exodus from Egypt,
kingship, the splitting of the sea, the plague of the firstborn, and the Rock
and its Savior." Once again, the miraculous exodus from Egypt and the
future redemption are the central themes of this berakha.
The Rishonim differ as to the meaning of this gemara. The Hagahot Maimoniyot explains that one who does not recite this berakha has not fulfilled the obligation of this berakha. The Kesef Mishneh (Hilkhot Keriat Shema 1:7) notes that this
is obvious, and he suggests that if one omits the word "Emet" (truth) one had not fully fulfilled
one's obligation, as the point of the berakha
is to demonstrate the veracity of the past and future redemption. He
also cites Rabbeinu Manoach,
who argues that the gemara is referring to one who
says the evening berakha (Emet
Ve-emuna) in the morning and vice versa.
some (see Kesef Mishneh ibid.
and Tur O.C. 66) suggest that one who has omitted
this berakha has not fully fulfilled the mitzva of Keriat Shema! The Kesef Mishneh, for example,
explains that since we affirm our belief in the past and future redemption by
reciting this berakha, it is similar to the Keriat Shema itself,
and therefore by not reciting it, one has diminished the fulfillment of the mitzva of Keriat Shema itself.
The Kol Bo (9) expounds upon this idea and explains that this berakha is based upon the three paragraphs of Shema. "Emet elokei olam malkeinu"
corresponds to the first paragraph, which deals with accepting the yoke of
heaven; "Ashrei ish
corresponds to the second paragraph, which deals with the acceptance of the mitzvot; finally, "Mi-mitzrayim
ge'altanu" corresponds to the third
paragraph of Keriat Shema, the
passage of tzitzit, which reminds us that we
were redeemed from Egypt and taken as a special nation. As the third berakha summarizes and expounds upon the themes of Keriat Shema, one
who skips it forfeits the fuller mitzva of Keriat Shema.
Semikhat Ge'ula Le-tefilla:
The Juxtaposition of Redemption and Prayer
The Gemara (Berakhot 9b) teaches:
Rabbi Yochanan said:
"The Vatikin [pious people of old] would
at sunrise in order to juxtapose redemption
and prayer and pray when it is day…"
Rabbi Yitzchak ben Elyakim testified in the name of the holy community of Jerusalem: "Whoever
juxtaposes redemption and prayer will not be harmed for the entire day…"
Once, Rav Beruna juxtaposed redemption and prayer, and a smile did
not leave his face for the entire day.
Another Gemara (Berakhot
The Master said: "One should read Keri'at Shema and then pray [Shemoneh
This supports Rabbi Yochanan, as Rabbi Yochanan said: "Who will merit the World to Come? One
who juxtaposes redemption with the evening prayer."
Why do the rabbis insist that Ge'ula—i.e.,
the berakha of Emet Ve-yatziv in the morning and Emet Ve-emuna in the evening, concluding with "Ga'al Yisra'el," the
primary theme of which is redemption—to Tefilla?
offer different reasons for this halakha.
Rashi (4b s.v. Ha-somekh) offers two explanations:
…The juxtaposition of Ge'ula to Tefilla is hinted
to by David in the book of Tehillim, as it says
(19:15) "God, my Rock and my Redeemer," and immediately following
this, it says (20:2) "God will answer you on a day of crisis…"
The Yerushalmi says that one who does NOT connect Ge'ula to Tefilla is likened to an acquaintance of the king who knocks
on his door, and when the king answers, he finds that he has left; also here,
he leaves. Rather, a person should come close to God
and pay tribute to Him with praise and exaltation of the exodus from Egypt, constantly
coming closer to Him, and while he is close, he should ask for he needs…
according to both interpretations, mentioning redemption enhances prayer. However,
the first explanation MAY limit the idea to a specific type of prayer, a "tefilla be-et
tzara" (prayer motivated by
The second, as expressed by the Yerushalmi,
argues that an integral part of prayer is the process of "coming
closer" to God. Before one approaches God to ask for
one's personal needs, he should extol His past kindnesses and internalize His
role as the Redeemer.
Some Rishonim suggest that there may be a practical difference
between these two approaches. The Rema
(111:1) cites the Hagahot Asheri
and others, who rule that since the requirement of juxtaposing Ge'ula and Tefilla
is based upon the proximity of "God, my Rock and my Redeemer" (Tehillim 19:15) to "God will answer you on a day of
CRISIS" (20:2), this is not applicable on Shabbat, which is not a day of
He adds, however, that on Yom Tov, which
is a time of judgment, it should apply. The Beit Yosef
(111) disagrees, arguing that the proximity between the verses is not the only
reason to juxtapose Ge'ula and Tefilla.
The Rema concludes that, in deference to the Beit Yosef, one should be stringent except in cases of need. The
Mishna Berura (111:9)
writes that one should therefore, on Shabbat, answer Kaddish,
Kedusha and Barekhu
AFTER the berakha of Ga'al
Yisra'el and before Shemoneh
of Rabbeinu Yona (2b) offer
an entirely different interpretation of the Gemara. They
…Because one juxtaposes Ge'ula
one is worthy of so much reward that he will merit the World to Come? My teacher explains that the reason he
receives so much reward is that the entire reason why God redeemed us and took
us out of Egypt was that we should be His servants… and in the berakha of Ga'al
Yisra'el we mention the kindness he bestowed upon
us, and Tefilla
is our service to Him! …When one
mentions the exodus from Egypt and THEN prays, he is demonstrating that just as
a slave acquired by his master must fulfill his master's will, here too he
recognizes the goodness and redemption of his Creator and that he is His
servant; when he recognizes that he is enslaved to Him because He redeemed him,
and he fulfills His will and His commandments, for this he merits the World to
Rabbeinu Yona apparently believes that the juxtaposition of Ge'ula to Tefilla enforces the theme of Ge'ula,
important on its own and central to the final berakha
of Birkot Keriat Shema.
Rav Yechiel Yaakov
Weinberg, in a collection of essays called "Li-frakim"
(p. 397), offers another approach. He
GE'ULA is the remembrance of the past,
remembering the exodus from Egypt and the miracles which God wrought for us,
while TEFILLA includes and expresses
our hopes and aspirations for a future redemption. Those among our people who
have forfeited the future redemption, and live only from memories of the past,
their prayers are orphaned (tefilla yetoma). Yet those who wish to remove the past
from their hearts, and only the future interests them… are sacrificing two
worlds… Redemption means giving freedom to the Jewish creative force, as it has
already expressed itself in the past…"
For an analysis of the aggadic
side of this halakha, see http://vbm-torah.org/archive/aggada66/09aggada.htm
by Rav Yitzchak Blau.
Ge'ula and Tefilla at Night:
The Gemara (Berakhot 4b) cites a debate regarding semikhat
Ge'ula Le-tefilla at night. Rabbi Yochanan
does not distinguish between morning and night, as the redemption from Egypt
began at night; Rabbi Yehoshua ben
Levi insists that since the ge'ula culminated
during the day, semikhat Ge'ula Le-tefilla is required only at Shacharit,
the morning prayer.
The Gemara explains that even Rabbi Yochanan
would agree that "Hashkiveinu," the
second berakha recited after Keriat Shema at Arvit, the evening prayer, does not constitute an
interruption between Ge'ula and Tefilla, as once
it was instituted, it is viewed as an extension of the ge'ula
theme (ge'ula arikhta). Rabbeinu Yona (2b) explains that the content of Hashkiveinu
actually conforms to the ge'ula theme, and
therefore it is not an interruption.
Rav Amram Gaon
(cited in Tosafot Berakhot
4b s.v. De-amar) rules like Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, and he explains that we recite Kaddish in between the Berakhot and Shemoneh
Esrei in accordance with his view. The
Rambam (Hilkhot Tefilla 7:18) follows the opinion of Rabbi Yochanan, as does Rav Yosef Karo in the Shulchan Arukh (236:2).
In the Beit Yosef, however, he quotes Rishonim
who argue that semikhat Ge'ula
Le-tefilla is LESS important at night, and
therefore, one who arrives at Arvit late
should say Shemoneh Esrei
WITH the tzibbur and afterwards recite Keriat Shema with
its berakhot. The
Shulchan Arukh (236:3)
accepts this ruling.
The Shulchan Arukh (236:2) is ALSO
lenient regarding tefilla-related
announcements before Shemoneh Esrei at night. He allows the leader (sheliach
tzibbur) to announce that it is Rosh Chodesh, and the Mishna Berura (7) adds that one may also announce "Ve-ten tal u-matar," in which we ask God for rain, which also
is first recited at Arvit. The Mishna Berura, however, points
out that one may NOT announce this in between the berakhot of Keriat Shema, only AFTER their conclusion. He
also notes that this leniency ONLY applies at night. In fact, some (see Rosh Ta'anit 1:2) say that the reason the rabbis instituted that
one should begin saying "Mashiv Ha-ruach," in which we praise God for rain,
specifically during the late-morning Musaf
prayer was in order to prevent one from announcing it during Shacharit in between Ge'ula
leniencies are similar to the opinion of some Geonim
and Rishonim (see Rav Hai Gaon as cited by Rosh, Berakhot
1:1), as we discussed last week, who instruct those who say the evening Shemoneh Esrei early
with the congregation (tzibbur) to say Keriat Shema with
in their proper time. They apparently hold that the importance
of saying the Birkot Keriat Shema WITH Shema, on time, outweighs semikhat Ge'ula Le-tefilla, at least
mentioned in last week's shiur, the halakha does NOT follow this opinion. Apparently, while tefilla be-tzibbur, as well as tefilla-related announcements,
may set aside semikhat Ge'ula
AT NIGHT, the proper time for Keriat Shema does not.
"Amein," Tallit and Tefillin after Ga'al Yisra'el:
anything warrant interrupting between Ge'ula
The Beit Yosef (66) cites the Rokei'ach
(Ch. 21) who permits answering Kedusha in
between Ga'al Yisra'el
and Shemoneh Esrei. Tosafot (Berakhot 13b), however, as well as the Mordechai, argue
that while one MAY answer in between the Birkot
Keriat Shema, one
may NOT in answer in between Ge'ula and Tefilla.
The Shulchan Arukh (66:9) rules that
one should not answer Kaddish or Kedusha in between Ge'ula
rather, one should wait at "Shira chadasha" and respond then. The Mishna
Berura adds that one should also refrain from
responding to Barekhu or Modim.
to Ga'al Yisra'el,
the Tur (66) permits doing so, even after one's own berakha (according to those who are accustomed to
after concluding their own berakhot). The Beit Yosef disagrees and rules in the Shulchan
Arukh (66:7) that one should NOT answer "Amein"
to the berakha of Ga'al
Yisra'el, seemingly even after the sheliach tzibbur. The
Rema permits responding, but he records that the
custom is to answer "Amein" after the berakha
of the sheliach tzibbur
but NOT after one's own berakha.
The Mishna Berura (66:34) recommends
avoiding this halakhic quandary. He suggests that one
should either finish the berakha WITH the sheliach tzibbur,
thereby avoiding the obligation to answer "Amein," or begin the Shemoneh
Esrei slightly before the sheliach
tzibbur finishes the berakha. The
Arukh Ha-shulchan (66:14)
writes that common custom is to refrain from answering "Amein" even after the sheliach tzibbur.
Some shelichei tzibbur
intentionally conclude the berakha of Ga'al Yisra'el
quietly, as to avoid the above problem; however, many have criticized this
To this day there are different customs regarding this practice.
above, the Rishonim debate whether "semikhat Ge'ula
applies on Shabbat as well. The Rema
(111:1) cites the lenient opinion, although he concludes that "one should
be stringent except when necessary." The Mishna Berura (111:9 and Biur Halakha) rules that one may, on Shabbat, answer to Kaddish, Barekhu
and Kedusha (as described above) in between Ga'al Yisra'el and Tefilla.
As for tallit and tefillin,
the Mechaber (66:8) rules that if one did not have tallit and tefillin
before beginning Birkot Keriat Shema and receives them immediately
before beginning Tefilla, he should don the tefillin
but recite the berakha AFTER Tefilla, and he should NOT put on the tallit.
While the Peri Chadash, cited by the Mishna Berura (66:42) argues that
one may even say the berakha over the tefillin, the custom, and the conclusion of the Acharonim, is in accordance with the Shulchan
receives the tallit and tefillin
BEFORE saying Ga'al Yisra'el,
the Mechaber and Rema differ
as to whether one should put them BOTH on WITHOUT a berakha
(Mechaber), or whether it might be permitted to say
the berakha over the tefillin
(Rema). The Mishna Berura (66:17) cites the Peri Megadim who notes that our custom is in accordance with the
Rema's distinction, and one who puts on a tallit during Birkot
Keriat Shema should
recite the berakha after Tefilla.
The Mishna Berura (111:b) writes that
one should even avoid pausing physically in between Ge'ula
The Order of the Berakhot:
The Gemara (Berakhot 12a) teaches that the order of the Birkot Keriat Shema does not prevent the fulfillment of the mitzva. If one recites the second berakha before the first, one has still fulfilled
the obligation to recite the berakhot (Shulchan Arukh 60:3). Furthermore, even if one recites the berakha of Emet Ve-yatziv before Keriat Shema or all of the berakhot after Tefilla (see Mishna Berura 60:5), one has
still fulfilled the obligation. Therefore, if one recites the Birkot Keriat Shema and the Shema itself, but he is then interrupted and unable to continue, he may resume
later on and recite Emet Ve-yatziv and
fulfilling semikhat Ge'ula
Next week we will discuss when it is
permitted to interrupt in the middle of each berakha,
as well as between the berakhot of Keriat Shema.