Wednesday, July 13, 2011

shema and its brachos

The Rambam paskens that when faced with a sfeika d’oraysa requiring that a mitzvah be done over, the bracha associated with the mitzvah is not recited (Hil Sukkah 6:13). The logic here is that the safeik regarding the mitzvah and the safeik regarding the bracha are two separate issues. The requirement to recite a bracha is a sfeika derabbanan, and the rule of sfeika derabbanan l’kula applies. The safeik with respect to the mitzvah itself is a sfeika d'orasya.

The exception to the rule is kri’as shema, where the Rambam paskens (Hil K.S. 2:13) that if shema must be repeated because of a safeik, birchos kria’as shema are repeated as well. The Rashba already explains that the Rambam understood that when Chazal formulated the requirement to recite birchos kri’as shema, they did so not as a separate din, but as part and parcel of the kiyum mitzvah of kri’as shema. Reciting shema without its associated brachos is an incomplete fulfillment of mitzvas kri’as shema.

This is one of the proofs of R’ Chaim Brisker (see R' Genack's sefer "Gan Shoshanim" siman 1) that it is preferable to daven b’yechidus rather than to daven in a minyan that will miss sof zman kri’as shema (Biur Halacha siman 235 quotes GR”A that the same applies even to ma’ariv). Even if you recite shema within the zman before davening, it doesn’t help, because the mitzvah of shema is lacking so long as it is not recited in the context of birchos k"s.

In NY the zman has been hovering around the 9:10-9:15 area for the past few weeks, guaranteeing that those who start davening at 9:00 would miss it, and those who start at 8:45 would make it only b'koshi. It will be getting later over the next few weeks.


  1. Anonymous1:35 AM

    what's the logic of the proof?
    even on the strict side, one may
    say the brachos beyond the 3rd hour
    (sof zman kri'as shema), til the
    end of the 4th (O.C. 58:6), while
    Rabbeinu Moses ben Maimon allows the brachos all day (K.S. 1:13)!

  2. It's said in the name of the Gaon that one should not sing Tzur Mishelo, because it contains all the required hoda'os of Birkas Hamazon. The question is, what's wrong with doing so? The Gaon would agree that the chiyuv derabanan to say the nusach habrachos would still pertain, so who cares if you were yotzei the d'oraysa with zmiros? The answer must be that although the nusach habracha is d'rabanan, Chazal wanted you to be yotzei the ikkar chiyuv d'oraysa of bentching with their nusach habracha. As you said from the Rashba, the d'oraysa without the bracha is incomplete, it's flawed.

    I remember walking into the Beis Medrash in Staten Island with Reb Moshe at the beginning of davenning, and a bachur on the side was saying "Le'olam y'hei adam" out loud, and the boy said Shma with great kavana. What could be wrong with that? Reb Moshe remarked to me that the bachur should not do that. One should not be yotzei shma until birkos krias shma. He added that because of that, some people don't say the whole passuk in Le'olam, they just say "pa'amayim bechol yom Shma Yisrael. Atta hu etc."

  3. Anonymous5:55 PM

    might there even be a sort of
    structural kal v'chomer
    to support you, b? if for shema,
    we must say the brachos on contents that surround the ikkar (we don't say "bircos shma", but "bircos krias shma") to fulfill the mitzvah completely, how much moreso [when all else equal] must we say the brachos for Birkas Hamazon, which are embedded*
    in the ikkar (the hoda'os), that go on that very ikkar...

    OTOH, maybe tzur mishelo plus
    recital of the 4th, purely rabbinic
    bracha-- DOUBLY rabbinic, in our
    context-- should work, to satisfy
    both hoda'os d'oraysa, & nusach
    Chazal?...or no, the 4th bracha need not be part of any brachos hamazon following tzur mishelo? {that the 4th bracha must be recited, along with the first 3 of hamazon, in a case of doubt (and isn't treated sfeika l'kula), suggests its affinity with these brachos around shema; but when one sang tzur mishelo, & is left with only a chiyuv rabbanan to bench, then the rabbinic status of bracha 4 kicks-in, and we wouldn't recite it, l'kula??}

    *tzur mishelo uses, in its line 1,
    the word "barchu" (understood
    as the opening bracha of Hamazon?), and uses, internally,
    "n'varech" (an allusion to mazon's embedded brachos?)-- without these
    2 words, would there even be a hava amina that the song's ho'daos (alone) suffice d'oraysa (v'savata oo'veirachta), that they're a
    complete ikkar?

  4. Anonymous, I don't apprehend the distinction between integrated and external brachos, but it sound very nice.

  5. Anonymous5:41 PM

    b -- the nachash sounded very nice
    to Chava, so watch your guard!

    we don't say "baruch ata Hashem,
    asher echad", after reciting the
    first verse of shema;
    we only add an 'atmosphere'
    (however dramatic) of light & Love with "...ha'meoros...b'ahava";
    if we read only these brachos,
    without the shema itself, would we have any hava amina of brachos l'vatalah? (however, if we said "...hazan es hakol", without eating...)

    make any sense?
    ...either way, Shabbos shalom

  6. 1. so the same logic would prevent you from ever making an early shabus? what would you do for brikas Kreia shma? what did Rav do every time he made early shabus?
    2.the tzur mishlo kasha has a simple answer. if I forget retza on shabus I need to bentsch over. and tzur meshlo does NOT mention shabus therefore you are NOT yotzee bentsching on shabus with tzur mishlo.

  7. Anonymous11:49 PM

    what if, Amshinover, tzur mishlo
    has no verse corresponding to the
    4th bracha of bircas hamazon?
    only after proceeding into that
    last bracha, is a "compensatory"
    retza ineffective-- so couldn't one just add the compensation to the song?
    & what of the 3rd meal of Shabbos--if one omits retza then,
    he needn't bentsch over...

  8. Are you not yotzei midoraysa if you skip r'tzei? Interesting.