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

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Thu Feb 28 13:51:22 PST 2013

On Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 09:03:14PM +0000, Kenneth Miller wrote:
: 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...

It's a RYBS-ism as well. My father taught me to say the close of Birkhas
Ahavah together with the chazan to avoid the "amein".

The Machzor Vitri is the oldest source for not saying "amein".

To see why the Ramban considers Ahavah a birkhas hamitzvah, it's best to
see the Ramban inside -- Berakhos 11b "mei'eimasai". He is actually
speaking about "Keil Melekh Ne'eman", not "amain". Taking the translation
from <http://beureihatefila.com/files/Kail_Melech_Ne_Eman-1.pdf> (and
I highly recommend <http://beureihatefila.com> in general, even if this
particular translation is suboptimal):

    There already was a custom in the cities to recite between the prayer
    Ahavas Olam and Kriyat Shma, the words: Kail Melech Ne'eman. In
    my youth it troubled me, because it is we ll known that the prayer
    Ahavas Olam is the Bracha for the Mitzvah of Kriyat Shma, based on
    the rule that all Mitzvot require the recital of a Bracha before the
    performance of the Mitzvah. The same rule applies in connection with
    reciting Hallel; reading Megilat Esther; reading the Torah; and
    of course in connection with reciting Kriyat Shma. It is based on
    that rule that we learned that if one studied Torah after reciting
    Kriyat Shma that it was not necessary for him to recite the Bracha
    that precedes learning Torah since he had already fulfilled the
    obligation to recite a Bracha before studying Torah by reciting the
    Bracha of Ahava Rabbah, which is the equivalent to the Bracha for
    studying Torah. The reason that our Sages instituted the practice
    to recite two blessings before reciting Kriyat Shma was because the
    earliest time in the day that one can recite Kriyat Shma is tied
    to sunrise and sunset.
    But there is a major difference between the Brachot that precede
    Kriyat Shma. The Brachot of Yotzair Ohr and Maariv Aravim are
    blessings of Praise as we learned (Megillah 24b) that one who never
    saw the celestial bodies in his life because he was blind cannot
    Porais Shma. The Bracha of Ahavas Olam is the Bracha that precedes
    the performance of the Mitzvah of Kriyat Shma. This is also seen by
    what we learned that the Chief Kohain would call out: make one Bracha
    etc... and it is based on this Bracha that they authored the Bracha
    of Emes V'Yatziv to be a Bracha that is connected to the blessing
    of Ahavas Olam. Since the Bracha of Ahavas Olam is a Bracha that
    precedes the performance of a Mitzvah, it is obvious that it is like
    any other Bracha that precedes the performance of a Mitzvah or before
    eating a fruit that if one recited Amen after reciting the Bracha but
    before pe rforming the Mitzvah that he certainly is in error. This was
    openly detailed in the Jerusalem Talmud as follows: He who is Porais
    Al Shma, or is the one to go down to the Ark or one who blesses the
    people or the one who reads from the Torah or the Haftorah or one who
    recites any Bracha that precedes the performance of a Mitzvah from
    the Torah should not respond with Amen after reciting the Bracha. I
    do not have to explain this matte r that was clearly understood by
    the early commentators, that it appears to me that reci ting Kail
    Melech Ne'eman after the Bracha of Ahava Rabbah is an interruption
    and causes one to have to repeat the Bracha.

Notice he points to two indicators:

1- The kohein gadol's call makes a distinction between the berakhos before
   shema, indicating that one was distinct from Shema, in a way that the
   other (Ahavah) was not.

2- Emes veYatziv/vaEmunah does not begin with Barukh. Therefore, you cannot
   cap off Ahavah with an "amein" to your own berakhah as the end of a
   2-berakhah series before Shema. Clearly the series is seen as continuing.

   Why isn't it the end, and thereby forcing the word barukh on birkhas
   Geulah? Birkhos haMitzvah never seem to get self-answered. And it
   appears to be included in a list of examples of birkhos hamitzvah
   given by the Y-mi when it gives this kelal.

This doesn't refer to answering the Chazan's berakhah with an "amein",
just that one shouldn't say "amein" to one's own. This is only about
RAM's specific question about birkhas hamitzvah

: 1) Is it a Birkas Hamitzva when one davens Maariv after Plag Hamincha...
: 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?

As we saw, the Ramban and for that matter (nearly?) all Sepharadi
rishonim and what they do lemaaseh, hold not to say Keil Melekh Neeman
for this reason.

But I could make a chiluq. EMN is actually in order to fulfill a derabbanan
about saying shema -- that there be 248 words. Thus, the berakhah is still
oveir laasiyasan (including the derabbanan). "Amein" is for the berakhah,
not for Shema itself, and therefore spaces "be'havah" form asiyasan. I made
up that chiluq myself, though.

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

One of the Birkhos haTorah ("laasoq bedivrei Torah") has it but "asher
bakhar banu" does not. And it's the one oveir laasiyasan AND the only
one said on leining.

Birkhas Eirusin.

And FWIW, before Birkhas Kohanim they don't say "asher qideshanu
bemitzvosav" but "biqdushaso shel Aharon". But I'm really not sure what
it's worth since only a subset of the people were given this mitzvah,
not everyone who Hashem was meqadesh through His mitzvos.

Tangentially, the AhS (OC 25:12-13) argues that the berakhah Ashk say
on the tefillah shel rosh is a birkhas shevach despite having "asher
qidishanu bemitzvosav vetzivanu". He finds the whole idea of making
a berakhah misafeiq untenable -- safeiq berakhos lehaqeil. And saying
"barukh sheim" lekhat-chilah is equally implausible to him.

The AhS explains it as a shevach that we have an opportunity to be bound
to HQBH as represented by the qesher on tefillin, and it is this qesher
that motivates us to repeat the shavatim's proclomation BSKMLV!

There is much more support to his chiddush, ayin sham.

But in any case, it shows a space between "asher qidishanu bemitzvosav"
and birkhas hamitzvah, if in the other direction.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Worrying is like a rocking chair:
micha at aishdas.org        it gives you something to do for a while,
http://www.aishdas.org   but in the end it gets you nowhere.
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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