Thursday, January 05, 2012

smichas geulah l'tefilah and why we say baruch shem kvod malchuso quietly

Last week we started what I hope will be a series based on R' Wahrman's Oros Shabbos.  I want to continue this week with a piece (siman 5 in the sefer) that relates to parshas hashavu'a as well as hilchos shabbos.   

The halacha is that one may not interrupt between the bracha of ga'al yisrael and shmoneh esrei in shacharis -- one is required to have smichas geulah l'tefilah.  The same holds true for ma'ariv, except that there is the additional bracha of hashkiveinu (and baruch Hashem l'olam) after ga'al yisrael.  The gemara explains that this is a "geula arichta", a long geulah, meaning the bracha of hashkiveinu continues the theme of geulah and is therefore not considered an interruption.  What about on Shabbos and Yom Tov, where we add V'shamru Bnei Yisrael es haShabbos and VaYidaber Moshe es Moadei Hashem... between hashkiveinu and our amidah -- why are these insertions not considered interruptions?  How on these days do we satisfy the requirement of smichas geulah l'tefilah?  

The Rishonim offer various answers to this question.  The Tur writes that V'Shamru... is also a form of geulah, as Hashem has promised to redeem Bnei Yisrael if only we observe two Shabbosos.  The Prisha sees these pesukim not as connected to geulah, but as part and parcel of our teflah, as they describe the kedushas hayom of Shabbos / Yom Tov.  Rav Wahrman focusses his attention on the interesting answer of the Rokeach, who writes that these pesukim are not considered an interruption because they are recited quietly.  Putting aside the fact that our minhag is not like the Rokeach, how can we explain this view?  What difference does it make whether the pesukim are recited aloud or in a whisper? 

There is a well known machlokes between Rashi and Tosfos (Brachos 21) regarding what to do if one is in the middle of shmoneh esrei and the tzibur is saying kedusha.  Rashi writes that one should remain silent and simply attend to the recitation of the tzibur -- based on the principle of shome'a k'oneh, hearing can substitute for actually saying the words.  Tosfos disagrees.  If hearing is equivalent to saying the words, argues Tosfos, then listening to the words of kedusha would be no less a hefsek, an interruption, than actually reciting the words themselves.  According to Rashi, obviously this is not the case -- there is a distinction between a recitation done aloud and recitation done quietly or by listening.     

To explain this idea found in Rashi and the Rokeach, as he does in many places, R' Wahrman cites a novel explanation from his rebbe, R' Leizer Silver.  The gemara Pesachim (56) explains the reason we say the words, "Baruch shem kvod malchuso..." after Shema in a whisper as follows: Ya'akov Avinu became worried when he wanted to reveal the day of geulah to his children and his ruach hakodesh departed.  The Shevatim consoled Ya'akov by declaring, "Shema Yisrael (meaning their father), Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem echad," and Ya'akov responded to their declaration of faith by saying, "Baruch shem kvod malchuso..."  However, says the gemara, when Moshe Rabeinu wrote and said the parsha of Shema, he did not add "Baruch shem..."  Ya'akov said it; Moshe didn't say it; we compromise and recite it in a whisper. 

The Tzlach asks what the whole tumult in the gemara is about.  There are many praises and expressions that we have in our davening that were not said by Moshe.  Just because Moshe didn't say, "Baruch shem...," doesn't seem to be enough of a reason to leave it out. 

Tzlach answers that the difference here is context.  To insert in davening additional praises not recited by Moshe, like chapters of tehillim, of course needs no justification.  But here, in the case of "Baruch shem...," the additional phrase is being stuck right in the very middle of Moshe's words.  What gives us the right to create a hefsek, an interruption, right in the middle of the parsha of Shema as told to us in the Torah by Moshe Rabeinu?   

The gemara's answer is that there is no problem of creating an interruption because we say, "Baruch shem..." quietly.  In other words, a quiet recitation, a recitation that is different in tone than the normal tefilah voice, does not consititue a hefsek. 

The is exactly the point Rashi and the Rokeach were making.  Through shome'a k'oneh listening counts the same as a recitation of kedusha, but since that recitation takes place silently, it does not count as an interruption.  Since "V'shamreu Bnei Yisrael es haShabbos" is recited quietly, it also therefore does not count as an interruption that would break smichas geulah l'tefilah. 

R' Wahrman notes that his rebbe said this derech derush and he goes on to provide a more detailed halachic analysis, but it's nonetheless a clever and enjoyable vort.


  1. Anonymous12:05 AM

    >>> part and parcel of our teflah

    what does the Prisha do with
    "Adonii open my lips...", which
    seems to separate the amidah proper from everything prior?

    >>> we compromise and recite it in
    a whisper

    compromise? Yaa'kov spoke without even ruach hakodesh, Moshe with full-blown ruach & some
    degree of nevuah -- NOT a
    symmetry that lends itself to compromise at the halfway point! this asymmetry combines with yet another, in that Moshe--who wrote many words of Yaa'kov (both prophetic AND otherwise) in the Torah--didn't write these; thus we've an absence minhaTorah & a presence midrashic of "baruch shem...", & the d'oraysa absence itself magnified/
    decided by much greater Divine impetus... to whisper "baruch shem kavod malchuso" as we do resembles hijack (or hefsek) more than compromise!

  2. I'm curious if R. Wahrman offers any rationale for *why* quiet recital would not constitute a hefsek, even though it does apparently count as something.

    Maybe one can suggest, at least for Kriat Shma and for Semichat Ge'ula l'tefila, the requirement is for an unbroken flow of certain content: a particular text (shma) or sequence of recitations (ge'ula followed by tefila). Perhaps we do not fatally break that flow with a quiet stage whisper, because that is like an audible footnote and does not interrupt the flow of content.

    But I am not as convinced such logic works for shmoneh esrei (Rashi) however, because there the prohibition against hefsek might not be about keeping the text of the brachos continuous, but rather part of mandatory decorum during one's direct audience with the King. Maybe two factors are in play for Rashi: (1) First, content of kedusha is acceptable during one's audience with the King. Why then can't you just answer out loud during shmone esrei? Because (2), there is also a separate requirement not to break the flow of content of the standard brachos; however requirement #2 can be satisfied by answering silently with shome'a k'oneh.

  3. Anonymous3:41 PM

    >>> recitation done quietly or by

    if Rashi equates whispering with
    listening, why doesn't he hold that, given the option, we should
    whisper kedusha with the tzibur,
    rather than "remain silent"?
    one might answer that such
    whispering would equal his whisper of shemonei esrei, & one must tone
    down one level (from normal volume
    to a whisper, or from a whisper to
    silence); but then
    1) one should at least move his lips! (without so much as a whisper)
    2) to whisper between hashkivenu &
    the amidah shouldn't work! since
    the amidah IS ITSELF WHISPERED,
    v'shamru at a whisper won't be one
    volume level less between the 2
    (normal volume--whisper--whisper)?

    one might try to answer 2) by
    saying kedusha whispered would mean a like whisper within a whisper (the amidah), while v'shamru is a like whisper outside
    the amidah-- but why would the
    whisper even outside work, when
    "baruch shem..." requires us to raise our voices somewhat in the
    continuation of shema-- the lower
    volume must be shouldered by higher volumeS?

  4. chaim b.6:12 PM

    >>>*why* quiet recital would not constitute a hefsek

    The Beis haLevi writes that a kohen cannot fulfill the mitzvah of birchas kohanim through shome'a k'oneh because although s"k ascribes the act of dibur to the shome'a, it does not ascribe the quality of the spoken kol to the shome'a. Since birchas kohanim must be done "b'kol ram," s"k doesn't work because the quality of volume is missing from the dibur of the shome'a.
    Rav Wahman discusses this idea in greater depth and uses it to explain Rashi. A kol that has no volume does not constitute a hefsek.

  5. great unknown8:03 PM

    I always thought that hefsek was an inyan of hesech hada'as, with a dibur as one example. A hefsek of shtika kday ligmor kulo is a machlokes - does a significant silence also indicate hesech hada'as.

    On the other hand, dibur with omer mutar is also not definitively a hesech hada'as, since there was no deliberate intent to perform a non-tefila associated action.

    It may be that a quiet dibur, by its very nature, illustrates that the speaker is not being maysiach da'as; otherwise, he would speak in a normal tone of voice. His quietness shows that he is cognizant of what he is osek in, and he is speaking quietly now because this dibbur is secondary to the primary tefilla.

    This, however, leads to a problem for those who doven the rest of the tefilla in the same quiet tone: there is no indication that the inserted phrase is any less significant than the primary tefilla.

    Just a svara I'm throwing out for consideration.

  6. Anonymous10:25 PM

    "the act of dibur...[but not] the
    quality of the spoken kol"
    (comment 4)

    sounds like double-talk! (though that may be due only to hearing, & not to an act of the ear...)

    >>> shome'a k'oneh

    what chiyuv did Shafan (the
    speaker/reader) & King Yoshiyahu
    (the listener) have in common, that shome'a k'oneh would work by them? (succah 38b, kings II 22...)

  7. chaim b.6:35 PM

    >>>It may be that a quiet dibur, by its very nature, illustrates that the speaker is not being maysiach da'as

    But isn't that quiet time used to attend to something else, e.g. in the case in Brachos 21 you remain quiet and focus on kedusha. Sounds to me like there is definitely a hesech hada'as from shmoneh esrei.