[Avodah] How do Chabad deal with the Amen of Krias Shema

Kenneth Miller kennethgmiller at juno.com
Fri Feb 22 13:03:14 PST 2013

R' Zev Sero wrote:

> They've paskened the shayla to their own satisfaction; they've
> decided that it's not a hefsek after all.  Does that somehow
> make the shayla disappear for the whole world?  They can pasken
> in their shul, but for the rest of the world it's still a
> machlokes and a shayla which one can either confront or avoid.

Can someone clue me in on exactly what the problem is here? I understand that some (I think it was the MB citing the Gra) say that the bracha before Shema is a Birkas Hamitzvah, but I have never heard an explanation of WHY that might be so. In fact, I have four questions, all of which suggest that it is NOT so.

1) Is it a Birkas Hamitzva when one davens Maariv after Plag Hamincha for whatever reason? Does *anyone* object to answering Amen to the Chazan under such circumstances?

2) Is it a Birkas Hamitzva when one davens Shacharis during the fourth hour for whatever reason? Does *anyone* object to answering Amen to the Chazan under such circumstances?

3) Is it a hefsek - according to *anyone* - to say "E- Melech Neeman" if one is saying Shma without a minyan for whatever reason?

4) Do we have any other examples where the Matbea Shetib'u Chachamim of a Birkas Hamitzvah does not begin with "Asher Kid'shanu"?

Rather, it seems to me that there simply isn't any Birkas Hamitzvah on saying Shma. WHY there isn't a Birkas Hamitzva is an interesting question, but it is not what is being asked right now.

I do concede that Ahavah Rabba CAN BE used as a substitute Birkas Hamitzvah for the morning's Birkas Hatorah. But that's a b'dieved solution to a real problem, if one did not say Birkas Hatorah earlier. Given that Ahahav Raba IS a bracha, and it DOES mention learning, I'm not arguing against those who say that it can be used for this purpose b'dieved. I'm just trying to understand those who say that Chazal established a Birkas Hamitzvah for Mitzvas Krias Shema, and that this bracha is known as Ahava Rabba (and Ahavas Olam).

Akiva Miller
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