By Rabbi Yair Hoffman
One of our most revered Torah sages of the last century was Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt’l, of Jerusalem. We are continuing with a series of articles featuring rulings culled from the prestigious Torah journal Mevakshei Torah printed in Israel (POB 41170, Jerusalem). For the benefit of the reader, the rulings for each topic are preceded below by a brief introduction to the topic.
There is perhaps no other prayer in the Jewish siddur that better encapsulates Israel’s mission and ultimate purpose—the sanctification of G‑d’s name—than the Kaddish. When recited by a relative of a deceased, this prayer gives the greatest benefit to the soul of the deceased. It is thus most appropriate that we treat the Kaddish with the greatest respect.
30. One who davens in a large place where one cannot hear the Kaddish from where he is standing is nonetheless forbidden to speak, as this is considered a bizayon, disrespectful, to speak in the middle of the recitation of Kaddish.
Reciting The Shema
The Shema is the formulation in which we articulate twice daily our expression of the acceptance of the yoke of Heaven. In its essence, it also expresses the creed of a Jew. In the first statement, we express G‑d’s Oneness and Unity. “Hear O Israel, Hashem is our G‑d. Hashem is One.” In these six Hebrew words lies the kernel of Judaism’s entire philosophical oeuvre.
“G‑d is One.” This has implications. The first paragraph tells us how exactly to serve Him—with heart, might, and soul. The Oneness implies that He is the only source of goodness, and that we should strive to be like Him. The halachic interaction of this prayer with other sections of davening is the topic of the next few rulings by Rabbi Auerbach, zt’l.
31. If one remembered in the middle of Yotzer Ohr that he did not say Yishtabach, he lost out on the berachah and cannot go back and recite it.
32. If one generally recites the Krias Shema slowly and carefully and cannot reach the Shemoneh Esreih with the congregation, he should read the Shema before davening slowly and carefully and, when reciting the Shema during davening, he may do so quickly. One should not, however, just say the blessings of the Shema during the actual davening and leave out the Shema itself.
33. One who begins Krias Shema after the shaliach tzibbur has already recited “Hashem Elokeichem Emes” does not have to say “Kel melech ne’eman” before the first pasuk, as this is not considered b’yachid.
34. If someone awoke on Tishah B’Av at a late hour, even though the time for saying Krias Shema has passed, he is permitted to recite the Shema without its blessings, even though it is considered as if he is merely reading from the Torah.
The Talmud tells us that one should always attempt to pray with the community. The benefits are manifold—the prayers are more efficacious, it shows community-mindedness, and the bundling of prayers together allows the prayers of the not-so-righteous to enter before G‑d as well. When we pray alone, the prayers are presented to G‑d as through an intermediary; when we pray together, G‑d Himself accepts it. The Shulchan Aruch rules that if one has a synagogue in his town and he does not enter it, he is labeled a rasha, an evildoer. The details of tefillah b’tzibbur are the subject of the next few rulings by Rabbi Auerbach zt’l.
35. The parameters of tefillah b’tzibbur are that one begins exactly at the same time as the shaliach tzibbur when he recites the blessing of Avos. However, if he began after this, it is still considered tefillah b’tzibbur.
36. One who prays in a different room (such as the women’s section) is considered as if he is davening with the congregation. However, it is not considered 100% with the congregation and the tefillah b’tzibbur is somewhat deficient.
37. Even according to the Rashba (who holds that in the first blessing of Shemoneh Esreih it is forbidden to have a hefsek in thought even in between the words) if one is still in the middle of this first berachah and the shaliach tzibbur has reached the recitation of Kedushah, one remains silent and remains attentive to the Kedushah with the shaliach tzibbur.
38. If one is reciting Shemoneh Esreih and the shaliach tzibbur begins the recitation of Kedushah, there is no need for the person to finish up to Attah Kadosh; rather, he remains silent until the shaliach tzibbur finishes Kedushah.
39. If one is davening together with the shaliach tzibbur, even though some have written that he says Attah Kadosh, he should rather say L’dor vador and follow what the shaliach tzibbur is saying.
40. If one is not davening in a minyan, it is preferable to daven at the time that the minyan is davening rather than in the shul when there is no minyan.
In Shemoneh Esreih
The text and themes of the Shemoneh Esreih were formulated by the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah. It is the climax of the morning service. Everything until now led up to this, where we stand before G‑d and recite our needs. We extol, we thank, and we request. In this section there is protocol; where we can walk, what we can wear, and what we do when we forget crucial sections. In the next few rulings we find numerous insights into the halachic protocols.
41. A shtender is not considered a separation regarding the law that one cannot walk next to someone who is davening. The reason is that it does not have the area of 4 by 4.
42. One is permitted to daven while wearing a scarf and this is not considered a lack of kavod, respect, in davening.
43. It is not proper to pray with one’s jacket placed over his shoulders (i.e., with his arms not in the sleeves of the jacket), for if he were to stand before a nobleman he would not stand this way.
44. When Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt’l, was asked about the Rashba (who holds that in the first berachah of Shemoneh Esreih it is forbidden to have a hefsek in thought at all, even in between the words), he responded, “Who can possibly follow this?”
45. One who is in the middle of the berachah of Barech Aleinu and forgot to mention V’sein tal u’mattar but already said Baruch Attah Hashem should complete the berachah and say v’sein tal u’mattar in between the berachos. He should not say “Lamdeini chukecha” and begin again from the beginning of the berachah.
46. In the berachah of Shema Koleinu, it is forbidden to answer “Amein yehei sh’meih rabbah” (as some would have it) because this is not an individual request but rather a request for the honor of heaven.
47. One who forgot Ya’aleh v’Yavo and returns to daven again does not have to daven with the congregation, since he has already fulfilled this requirement with his first tefillah. Similarly, on Shabbos when he forgets Retzei in Birkas HaMazon, his first berachos count toward the required 100 berachos of the day.
48. On Shemini Atzeres, if one is in doubt as to whether he said “b’Yom Shemini Atzeres” or “b’Chag HaSukkos” in Ya’aleh v’Yavo, he does not have to repeat it. The reason is that even though he has been saying “b’Chag HaSukkos” for the past seven days, it has not been for 30 days and he is not considered accustomed to saying it that way.
49. One whose custom is to say Sim Shalom during the Minchah Shemoneh Esreih cannot change to the shorter Shalom Rav in order to hear Kedushah, since this is the nusach of his tefillah.
50. If one forgot to say the word “Shalom” in the conclusion of the berachah of Sim Shalom he must go back to “Retzei,” as the last three berachos of Shemoneh Esreih are considered as one.
51. One who forgot to say Ya’aleh v’Yavo but remembered it in Elokai Netzor may not respond to Kaddish or Kedushah (as he would normally when he is in Elokai Netzor); rather, he should be silent and remain attentive, for it is as if he is in the middle of Retzei.
52. If one says the pasuk of “Yihyu l’ratzon imrei fi” before Elokai Netzor, the only verses that he should respond to in Kedushah are Kaddish and Borchu. Other verses should not be said then.
53. One who is waiting to take his three steps back for the person who is praying behind him should ideally wait until that person finishes his bowings as well, for the Shechinah is still before him.
54. One who has completed his Shemoneh Esreih but has not taken his three steps back yet may join with the congregation in reciting Tehillim.
Look in next week’s issue for the next article in this series.
Rabbi Hoffman can be reached at Yairhoffman2@gmail.com.