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Kedusha (Part II)

  • Rav David Brofsky



     Last week, we explored the meaning and function of Kedusha.  We discussed the format of Kedusha, as well as the proper manner, for the shaliach tzibbur (cantor, also known as shatz or chazzan), as well as for the community, to recite Kedusha


     This week, we will investigate a fascinating question raised by the Rishonim regarding Kedusha, although its ramifications are relevant to other questions and situations.  In addition, we will discuss Modim De-rabbanan and the proper response of the shatz and tzibbur.


What if the Shatz Says Kedusha in the Middle of One's Silent Amida?


     The Rishonim discuss the case of a shaliach tzibbur who begins the repetition before all of the congregants have concluded their silent recitations of Shemoneh Esreh.  What should one who is still praying do when the shaliach tzibbur reaches Kedusha?


     Tosafot (Berakhot 21b, s.v. Ad) relate the following:


Rabbeinu Tam, when he was still praying [while the shaliach tzibbur recited the repetition], when the shaliach tzibbur would reach Modim, he would bow with the tzibbur, but not say it at all.  This was only in the middle of his berakhot, because we learned that (Berakhot 34a) it is prohibited to bow at the end of each berakha.  However, preferably one should not do this…


Rashi writes in Sukka, in the chapter "Lulav Ha-gazul"(38b), that a person who is praying and hears the chazzan say Kaddish or Kedusha may not stop and answer with the tzibbur; rather he should stand quietly and wait, as one who listens is as if he has spoken (shome'a ke-oneh); one may still say that initially it is preferable to avoid this, as responding verbally enhances the mitzva more. 


Rabbeinu Tam and the Ri used to say the opposite, that if one who hears is really equivalent to one who speaks, then stopping and listening would constitute an interruption.  However, the people are accustomed to be quiet and listen, and the custom is powerful.


     Tosafot report that Rashi feels that it is proper to pause and listen to the shaliach tzibbur; since Halakha views one who listens attentively as equivalent to the one who actually performs the recitation (shome'a ke-oneh), one may fulfill the obligation of Kaddish and Kedusha by merely listening.  Rabbeinu Tam, and his student, the Ri, fear that this might constitute an interruption in one's tefilla.


     This debate goes to the heart of the well-established halakhic principle of shome'a ke-oneh.  As we have discussed in previous shiurim, at times, one may fulfill one's obligation to recite a certain text, such as Megillat Ester, Kiddush or Havdala, by merely listening to another person recite the text, and then answering "Amen."


     What is the source and nature of this principle?


     The Gemara (Sukka 38b) teaches:


How do we know that one who listens is akin to one who recites?  As it says, "All the words of the book which the king of Yehuda read" (II Melakhim 22:16) — did [King] Yoshiyahu really read them?  Was it not Shafan who read them, as it says, "And Shafan read it before the King" (ibid., v. 10).  Rather, from here we learn that one who listens is akin to one who recites.


     The Rishonim debate the precise meaning of the phrase shome'a ke-oneh.  We often ask regarding halakhic comparisons: do we view one who listens as if he has literally recited the text, with all of its ramifications, or do we merely assert that he has fulfilled his obligation through listening?


     Seemingly, Rabbeinu Tam and the Ri believe that hearing is actually like speaking, and therefore listening to the shaliach tzibbur's Kaddish or Kedusha would be akin to answering oneself, which would constitute a hefsek (interruption) in his prayer.  Rashi, on the other hand, believes that while one can fulfill his obligation through hearing, he has not interrupted his tefilla, as a shome'a is not literally ke-oneh.


     Interestingly, the Ritva (Sukka 38b) suggests that one who is unable to speak, even temporarily, cannot employ the principle of shome'a ke-oneh.  Therefore, he notes, one who is praying silently cannot fulfill his obligation of Kedusha through shome'a ke-oneh, as he is temporarily unable to speak. 


     The Shulchan Arukh (Orach Chayyim 104:7) rules in accordance with the "custom" and allows one to listen quietly to the shatz saying Kedusha — and, as the Mishna Berura notes, Barekhu and Kaddish as well.


     Rav Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe, OC 3:4) writes that one should instruct the shaliach tzibbur to say Kedusha aloud after the congregation has already responded, for those who are still praying.  Furthermore, he notes that one may not fulfill one's obligation through a neighbor's Kedusha, as he certainly does not have in mind to fulfill his obligation.


     For this reason (among others), the shaliach tzibbur should be particularly careful to say these passages out loud, in order to enable those who are still praying their silent Shemoneh Esreh to participate in Kedusha.  This is especially pertinent on Shabbat, when, due to the lengthened Kedusha, some cantors begin only from "Az be-kol" and "Mi-mkomekha".


Other Ramifications of Shome'a Ke-oneh:


     The Acharonim explore other ramifications of this question.  For example, nowadays, one who is called to the Torah generally does NOT actually read from the scroll; rather, the koreh reads.  Must the person who recites the berakhot read along with the koreh, so that his blessings will not be in vain?  Alternatively, do we invoke the principle of shome'a ke-oneh, so that the person who recites the berakhot merely listens to the koreh?


     The Rosh (Megilla 3:1, 10; Teshuvot 3:12; as cited by the Tur 141) rules that the one who recites the berakhot on the Torah reading MUST read along, quietly, with the koreh, in order that his berakhot should not be in vain.


     One might ask: why do we not invoke the principle of shome'a ke-oneh?  We may answer this question from a number of perspectives.  On the one hand, we might claim that the principle of shome'a ke-oneh does not apply to Torah reading.  The Acharonim, as we shall discuss later this year, question whether we should view Torah reading as a communal obligation (chovat tzibbur) or an individual obligation (chovat yachid).  Aside from the many other ramifications of this question, it seems that while shome'a ke-oneh might apply to a chovat yachid, it certainly should not apply to a chovat tzibbur.  Therefore, we might suggest that the Rosh does not invoke the principle of shome'a ke-oneh because it simply is not relevant to a chovat tzibbur, such as Torah reading. 


     On the other hand, some Rishonim do apply the principle of shome'a ke-oneh to Torah reading.  For example, the Sefer Ha-eshkol (2:69) allows a blind person, who is unable to read but certainly capable of listening to the reading, to be called to the Torah and recite the blessings.  He explains that we invoke the principle of shome'a ke-oneh and allow him to recite the berakhot, as long as he listens to the reading.  The Maharil notes that the common custom is to call the blind to the Torah.


     The Shulchan Arukh (141:2) rules in accordance with the Rosh.  Yet regarding a blind person, the Rema (139:3) cites the Maharil, without disagreeing, and the Taz (141:3) forcefully defends this position. 


     The Bei'ur Halakha (141, s.v. Le-vatala) questions why the Rema, who seems to allow a blind person to be called up to the Torah based on the principle of shome'a ke-oneh, does NOT rule that the person reciting the berakhot should not need to read along with the koreh.  If we rely upon the reading of the koreh for the blind person, then certainly one who can see should be able to invoke the principle of shome'a ke-oneh and merely listen to the koreh!  He explains that the Rema, in Darkhei Moshe, his commentary to the Tur, in fact rejects the Maharil's view and favors the position of the Beit Yosef.  However, he cites the leniency of the Maharil and applies it ONLY for a blind person, who would otherwise never be able to be called up to the Torah!  However, in an ordinary case, he feels uncomfortable relying upon his position and invoking the principle of shome'a ke-oneh


     Rav Yaakov Emdin, in his She'elat Ya'avetz (1:75), strongly criticizes calling a blind person up to the Torah, through an analysis of the Rosh's position and the principle of shome'a ke-oneh.


     Incidentally, according to the Ritva, mentioned above, who maintains that one who is unable to speak may not fulfill an obligation through hearing another, we might question whether we may employ the principle of shome'a ke-oneh at all for a blind person, who fundamentally cannot read. 


     The Acharonim also disagree as to whether one may employ the principle of shome'a ke-oneh when other factors are necessary in order to fulfill the mitzva.  For example, while the Rambam (Hilkhot Ma'aser Sheni 11:5) implies that shome'a ke-oneh would not work for vidui ma'aserot, a triennial personal confession that one has separated and distributed all the required tithes, the Minchat Chinukh (607) disagrees.


     Similarly, the Acharonim disagree as to whether kohanim may fulfill their mitzva of Birkat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing,through shome'a ke-oneh.  Rav Betzalel Ha-kohen of Vilna, in his responsa Reshit Bikurim (4), relates that in the city of Trieste, Italy, only one kohen would bless the tzibbur, and the other kohanim would fulfill their obligation through shome'a ke-oneh.  A number of Acharonim write regarding this practice.  Rav Yosef Dov Ha-levi Soloveitchik (1829-1892), for example, in his Beit Ha-levi (Al Ha-Torah, Inyanei Chanuka), insists that while generally shome'a ke-oneh works, it cannot satisfy the requirement of kol ram (a loud voice), necessary for Birkat Kohanim (see Sukka 38a).  Rav Naftali Tzevi Yehuda Berlin (1817-1893), known as the Netziv, in his Meshiv Davar (1:47), disagrees.  I hope to return to this issue in a future shiur.


     Finally, I would like to point out the Kesef Mishneh's fascinating observation in the Rambam.  The Rambam (Hilkhot Berakhot 1:11) writes:


One who hears a berakha from beginning to end and has in mind to fulfill his obligation fulfills his obligation, even though he does not answer "Amen;" one who answers "Amen" after the person who recited the berakha is equivalent to that person.


     The Kesef Mishneh explains that the Rambam alludes here to two levels of shome'a ke-oneh.  One who hears the berakha, with the proper intention, has fulfilled his obligation.  However, one who answers "Amen," is equal to the one who has recited the berakha!  In other words, we may have identified both of our understandings of shome'a ke-oneh within the Rambam's ruling.


Modim De-rabbanan:


     The Gemara (Sota 40a) teaches:


     While the shaliach tzibbur recites the paragraph of "Modim," what does the congregation say? 

     Rav said: "We give thanks to You, Lord our God, because we are able to give You thanks." 

     Shmuel said: "[You are] God of all flesh, seeing that we give You thanks."

     Rav Simai said: "[You are] Creator of us and Creator of all things in the beginning, seeing that we give You thanks."

     The men of Neharda'a said in the name of Rav Simai: "Blessings and thanksgiving [are due] to Your great Name, because You have kept us alive and preserved us, seeing that we give You thanks."

     Rav Acha bar Yaakov used to conclude thus: "So may You continue to keep us alive and be gracious to us; gather us together and assemble our exiles to Your holy courts, to observe Your statutes and to do Your will with a perfect heart, seeing that we give You thanks."

     Rav Pappa said: "Consequently, let us recite them all!"


     The Gemara concludes that we should incorporate all of the different customs into one text, known to us as "Modim De-rabbanan," i.e., the thanksgiving prayer comprised of the rabbis' different compositions.  Incidentally, the Yerushalmi (Sota 7:6) cites other versions of the Modim De-rabbanan, apparently reflecting the traditions of Eretz Yisrael. 


     Furthermore, the Yerushalmi (Berakhot 1:5) relates in the name of Rabbi Chalafta ben Shaul that one should "bow with the shatz during the blessing of Modim."  However, it is somewhat unclear regarding the type of bow: further on, it concludes "as long at one does not bow too much."


     Some Rishonim assert that the Yerushalmi specifically refers to Modim, implying that unlike the other four times one during which one must bow fully (at the beginning and end of the berakhot of Avot and Modim), during Modim De-rabbanan, one should merely make the gesture of bowing partially.  Indeed, the Rambam (Hilkhot Tefilla 9:4) writes: "When the shaliach tzibbur reaches Modim, the entire congregation bows partially; they should not bow too much, and they say 'Modim...'"


     In fact, the Bach, as well as the Eliyya Rabba, Peri Megadim and others, rules that one should merely tilt one's head upon reciting Modim De-rabbanan.


     However, the Beit Yosef (137) notes that Tosafot (Berakhot 12b), the Semag and the Semak interpret the Yerushalmi's warning as referring to ALL times that one must bow, implying that during Modim De-rabbanan one really should bow completely, just not too much!  In fact, the Mishna Berura (127:2) writes that one should bow for Modim De-rabbanan as one does for the other berakhot which require bowing, and explicitly disagrees with the Bach, asserting that the custom is to bow completely.


     The Acharonim also differ regarding the duration for which one should bow.  The Rema (127:1) writes that it is customary to bow for the entire Modim.  The Maharshal, cited by the Mishna Berura, writes that one should bow at the beginning AND end of Modim.  Alternatively, the Bei'ur Halakha notes that the Gra relates that he would bow from "Modim" until the words "Sha-Atta Hu" and then rise for the name of God. 


     The Rishonim also debate whether one should conclude Modim De-rabbanan with a full berakha or merely by saying "Barukh Kel ha-hoda'ot," "Blessed is the God of gratitude."  We conclude without a berakha.


     The shaliach tzibbur should recite the entire Modim out loud, even while the tzibbur recites the Modim De-rabbanan.  Some recite the opening words of Modim and wait until the congregation has concluding saying Modim De-rabbanan before resuming. 



     Next week, we will begin our study of the birkat kohanim recited by the kohanim before the berakha of sim shalom.