Shabbat Parashat Tazria-Metsora| 5767
Ask The Rabbi
Question: I daven slower than most people in shul and, therefore, usually miss answering Kedusha. What can/should I do to remedy the situation?
Answer: We are working with the assumption that it is worthwhile to continue davening at your minyan. In our opinion, this depends on too many subjective factors to address in this forum.
The simplest possibility is to daven faster. Yaskil Avdi (I, OC 3) suggests speeding up (within reason) at the end if it will enable him to finish in time. However, almost all poskim reason that one’s kavana is so critical to his tefilla that he should not tamper with it even to “catch” Kedusha.
The gemara (Berachot 21b) says that one who comes to shul late and will be unable to finish Shemoneh Esrei (=SE)in time for Kedusha should not start at that time. Yet, a consensus of poskim reasons that one who starts SE on time but davens slowly should start normally even at the expense of Kedusha. However, the different explanations to reconcile this assumption with the gemara impact our case.
The Pri Megadim (OC 109, EA 2) says that tefilla b’tzibbur (saying SE along with a minyan) is more important than answering Kedusha. The gemara (ibid.) instructs not to miss Kedusha because one who starts SE late anyway lacks the full effect of tefilla b’tzibbur. (B’tzel Hachuchma IV, 3 discusses how close to the beginning of SE one needs to be to get the full effect.) In contrast, one who starts with everyone else has greater benefit from tefilla b’tzibbur than he loses by not answering Kedusha. The Biur Halacha (on 109:1) raises an additional possibility. When one is ready to begin SE along with the tzibbur, he is faced with the obligation of tefilla b’tzibbur, whereas the obligation of Kedusha is off in the future. In general, we do not push off mitzvot in the present because they may preclude mitzvot in the future. (For a reason unclear to this writer), once the tzibbur is well along in SE, there is not the same type of obligation for another to joint them. Az Nidberu (VIII, 41) raises a third possibility. Only when one is late and presumably negligent do we require him to wait; however, if one davens slowly (which is not negligence), we let him start SE when he is ready. A fourth distinction is that on a one-time basis, one must sacrifice his tefilla b’tzibbur to enable him to answer Kedusha. However, one who davens slower than his surroundings should not be deprived of tefilla b’tzibbur on an ongoing basis (Aruch Hashulchan, OC 109:5).
What is the halacha of one who would start and finish SE late because Kri’at Shema and its berachot take him a long time? While skipping the analysis, we point out that according to the first two reasons above, he should wait until chazarat hashatz to start SE (for details, see Ishei Yisrael 33: 2-3). However, according to the latter approaches, he can start SE and listen quietly to Kedusha in the middle (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 104:7). All considered, it is best to avoid starting late, where one misses out on a full tefilla b’tzibbur and/or on answering Kedusha.
One solution is to start SE before the congregation. However, the gemara (Berachot 28b) warns not to begin one’s tefilla before the congregation. This can be because one thereby misses tefilla b’tzibbur (see Mishna Berura 90:35). If so, we have to determine whether this is a problem when missing SE’s critical first partbut finishing up with the tzibbur. It could also be because of a disgrace to the tzibbur (see ibid. :34). If so, one must analyze if this applies to our situation where his actions are understandable. Some poskim allow this (see analysis in Yabia Omer II, OC 7), but we feel that the negative usually outweighs the positive. The best solution is to start the berachot of Kri’at Shema before the tzibbur so that one can start SE with them at his natural pace. During Birchot Kri’at Shema, one answers Amen Y’hei Shmei … and the last Amen of Kaddish and Borchu (Mishna Berura 66:17; see Ishei Yisrael, ch. 19).
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