SECTION 65 Laws Relating to One who Enters a Synagogue and Finds the Congregation Reciting the Shema [and] One who Makes an Interruption while Reciting it. (1–3)

סימן סה הַנִּכְנָס לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת וּמָצָא צִבּוּר קוֹרְאִין קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע אוֹ שֶׁהִפְסִיק בִּשְׁעַת הַקְּרִיאָה וּבוֹ ג' סְעִיפִים:

1 If one recited [the Shema] intermittently, i.e., he began reciting it and interrupted — whether with silence or with speech — and [then] resumed and completed it, he has [after the fact] fulfilled his obligation.1 [This applies] even if the lapse was long enough to enable him to complete it entirely, and even if the lapse was due to forces beyond his control.2 [These laws] also [apply] to [reading] the Megillah3 and sounding the shofar.4 With regard to the recitation of Shemoneh Esreh, by contrast, if the lapse was long enough to enable one to complete it in its entirety from the beginning to the end, he [has not fulfilled his obligation and] must go back to the beginning.5

Some authorities, however, maintain that there is no difference between the recitation of the Shema and of Shemoneh Esreh. In either case, it is argued, if one paused because of forces beyond his control — i.e., even if he had not desired to delay, he would not have been able [to proceed] — he must go back to the beginning. This would be the case if the lapse was long enough to enable him to complete [the prayer] in its entirety — from the beginning to the end, not from the point of the pause or disruption until the end. The time is estimated according to [the pace of] the individual reader, not of people at large.

Even with regard to the blessings of the Shema: if, in the middle of the blessing, one paused long enough to make it possible to complete it6 in its entirety, from beginning to end, he must go back to the beginning. If, however, the interruption was not [caused] by forces beyond his control — i.e., if he so desired he could have continued reading yet he chose to pause, interrupting through either speech or silence, even for a long time — he need return only to the point at which he ceased [reading]. One should follow [this ruling] with regard to actual practice, for it is accepted as halachah.

Some authorities define “prevented by forces beyond one’s control” in this context as including even a case in which one is prevented by robbers, or by any other emergency that did not enable him to recite [the Shema] even if he so desired. Other authorities maintain that an interruption is not considered beyond one’s control to the extent that he must go back to the beginning, unless: [(a)] his [physical person] was not fit [for the recitation], e.g., he began reciting the Shema, urine began to flow over his knees, and he had to wait until that ceased; or [(b)] his location was not fit for the recitation of the [Shema], e.g., he was reciting it while walking and reached filthy alleys and hence had to stop.1 If, by contrast, his physical person [and] the location were fitting, but some other emergency held him back and forced him to cease, then [according to the latter authorities] he should go back [only as far as] the point at which he had stopped, even if there was a long pause.

With regard to actual practice: There is a view that with regard to Shemoneh Esreh, even if one was held back by other factors he must go back to the beginning, for some authorities maintain that one must go back to the beginning even when [one paused and] there are no unavoidable factors whatsoever. With regard to the recitation of the Shema, by contrast, there is no need to return to the beginning unless one’s physical person or one’s location is not fit.

א קְרָאָהּ סֵרוּגִין, דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁהִתְחִיל לִקְרוֹת וְהִפְסִיקא בֵּין בִּשְׁתִיקָה בֵּין בְּדִבּוּרב וְחָזַר וּגְמָרָהּ, אֲפִלּוּ שָׁהָה כְּדֵי לִגְמֹר אֶת כֻּלָּהּ – יָצָא,1 אֲפִלּוּ אִם הָיָה הַהֶפְסֵק מֵחֲמַת אֹנֶס.ג,2 וְכֵן בִּמְגִלָּה3 וּבִתְקִיעַת שׁוֹפָר.ד,4 אֲבָל בִּתְפִלָּה אִם שָׁהָה כְּדֵי לִגְמֹר אֶת כֻּלָּהּ מֵרֹאשׁ עַד סוֹף – צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר לָרֹאשׁ.ה,5

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםו שֶׁאֵין חִלּוּק בֵּין קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע לִתְפִלָּה, וּבְכָל מָקוֹם אִם שָׁהָה מֵחֲמַת אֹנֶס, שֶׁאַף אִם הָיָה רוֹצֶה שֶׁלֹּא לִשְׁהוֹת לֹא הָיָה יָכוֹל – צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר לָרֹאשׁ, אִם שָׁהָה כְּדֵי לִגְמֹר אֶת כֻּלָּהּ מֵרֹאשׁ עַד סוֹף וְלֹא מִמָּקוֹם שֶׁשּׁוֹהֶה וּמַפְסִיק בּוֹ עַד סוֹף,ז וּמְשַׁעֲרִין לְפִי הַקּוֹרֵא וְלֹא לְפִי רֹב בְּנֵי אָדָם.ח וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּבִרְכַּת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַעט אִם שָׁהָה בְּאֶמְצַע הַבְּרָכָה כְּדֵי לִגְמֹר אֶת כֻּלָּהּ6 מֵרֹאשָׁהּ לְסוֹפָהּ – צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר לָרֹאשׁ.י אֲבָל אִם הִפְסִיק שֶׁלֹּא מֵחֲמַת אֹנֶס, שֶׁאִם הָיָה רוֹצֶה הָיָה קוֹרֵא וְשָׁהָה בִּרְצוֹנוֹ וְהִפְסִיק בֵּין בְּדִבּוּר בֵּין בִּשְׁתִיקָה אֲפִלּוּ זְמַן רַב – אֵין צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר אֶלָּא לַמָּקוֹם שֶׁפָּסַק. וְכֵן יֵשׁ לִנְהֹג הֲלָכָה לְמַעֲשֶׂה,יא כִּי כֵּן עִקָּר.יב

וְאֹנֶס זֶה, יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםיג אֲפִלּוּ אֹנֶס לִסְטִים אוֹ אֹנֶס אַחֵר, כָּל שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה יָכוֹל לִקְרוֹת אֲפִלּוּ אִם רָצָה. וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםיד שֶׁאֵינוֹ חָשׁוּב הֶפְסֵק מֵחֲמַת אֹנֶס לַחֲזֹר לָרֹאשׁ אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן לֹא הָיָה יָכוֹל לִקְרוֹת מֵחֲמַת שֶׁהָאִישׁ אֵינוֹ רָאוּי, כְּגוֹן שֶׁהִתְחִיל לִקְרוֹת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וְהִתְחִילוּ מֵי רַגְלָיו שׁוֹתְתִין עַל בִּרְכָּיו וְהֻצְרַךְ לְהַפְסִיק עַד שֶׁיִּכְלוּ, אוֹ מֵחֲמַת שֶׁהַמָּקוֹם אֵינוֹ רָאוּי לִקְרִיאָה, כְּגוֹן שֶׁקּוֹרְאָהּ מְהַלֵּךְ וְהִגִּיעַ לִמְבוֹאוֹת הַמְטֻנָּפוֹת וְהֻצְרַךְ לְהַפְסִיק.טו,1 אֲבָל אִם הָאִישׁ אוֹ הַמָּקוֹם רְאוּיִין אֶלָּא שֶׁאֹנֶס אַחֵר מְעַכְּבוֹ וּמַצְרִיכוֹ לְהַפְסִיק, אֲפִלּוּ שָׁהָה זְמַן רַב – חוֹזֵר לַמָּקוֹם שֶׁפָּסַק.

וּלְעִנְיַן הֲלָכָה – יֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵרטז שֶׁבַּתְּפִלָּה אֲפִלּוּ בְּאֹנֶס אַחֵר חוֹזֵר לָרֹאשׁ, מֵאַחַר שֶׁיֵּשׁ אוֹמְרִים שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ בְּלִי אֹנֶס כְּלָל חוֹזֵר לָרֹאשׁ, אֲבָל בִּקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע אֵין צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר לָרֹאשׁ אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָאִישׁ אוֹ הַמָּקוֹם אֵינוֹ רָאוּי:

2 When one enters a synagogue and finds the congregation reciting the Shema, if he has already recited [it] he must recite the first verse7 together with them, in order to avert the impression that he does not desire to accept the yoke of the sovereignty of Heaven together with his fellows. The same applies to other [prayers] that the congregation is reciting communally, e.g., Tehillah LeDavid;8 one must join them in their recitation, for this is proper conduct. This also applies if one is [already] in a synagogue reciting supplications or verses, and is at a stage at which he is permitted to make an interruption.

If, however, he is involved [in his prayers] at a stage at which one is not permitted to make an interruption, e.g., from Baruch SheAmar onward,9 he should not interrupt [his prayers]. Instead, while the congregation is reciting the first verse [of the Shema], he should [continue with] the words he is saying, [but] in the musical intonation that they are using, so that it appears that he is reciting it together with them.

Some authorities, however, maintain that one may make an interruption even in the midst of the blessings of the Shema, in order to accept the yoke of the sovereignty of Heaven together with the congregation. Still others maintain that in the course of Pesukei DeZimrah one should make an interruption, but while saying the blessings preceding the Shema, one should not interrupt at all in order to recite the first verse of the Shema. Instead, he should [continue with] the words [he is saying, but] in the musical intonation with which the congregation recites the Shema.10

With regard to actual practice, the halachah follows the third view, that in Pesukei DeZimrah one should make an interruption. In the midst of the blessings of the Shema, by contrast, one should not make an interruption, but should [continue with] the words [he is saying] in the musical intonation with which the congregation [recites the first verse of the Shema]. A person who makes an interruption in the midst of the blessings of the Shema in order to recite the first verse of Shema with the congregation should be rebuked.

ב קָרָא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וְנִכְנַס לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת וּמָצָא צִבּוּר שֶׁקּוֹרִין קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע – צָרִיךְ לִקְרוֹת עִמָּהֶם פָּסוּק רִאשׁוֹן,7 שֶׁלֹּא יֵרָאֶה כְּאִלּוּ אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לְקַבֵּל עֹל מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם עִם חֲבֵרָיו.יז וְהוּא הַדִּין שְׁאָר דָּבָר שֶׁהַצִּבּוּר אוֹמְרִים, כְּגוֹן "תְּהִלָּה לְדָוִד"8 – צָרִיךְ לִקְרֹא עִמָּהֶם, שֶׁכֵּן דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ.יח וְהוּא הַדִּין אִם הוּא בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת וְאוֹמֵר דִּבְרֵי תַּחֲנוּנִים אוֹ פְּסוּקִים בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁרַשַּׁאי לִפְסֹק.

אֲבָל אִם הוּא עָסוּק בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי לִפְסֹק, כְּגוֹן מִ"בָּרוּךְ שֶׁאָמַר" וְאֵילָךְ9 – לֹא יַפְסִיק, אֶלָּא יֹאמַר הַתֵּבוֹת שֶׁהוּא אוֹמֵר בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהַצִּבּוּר אוֹמְרִים פָּסוּק רִאשׁוֹן בְּנִגּוּן הַצִּבּוּר, שֶׁיְּהֵא נִרְאֶה כְּאִלּוּ קוֹרֵא עִמָּהֶם.יט

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםכ דְּמַפְסִיק אֲפִלּוּ בְּאֶמְצַע בִּרְכוֹת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע, לְקַבֵּל עֹל מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם עִם הַצִּבּוּר.

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםכא דְּבִפְסוּקֵי דְּזִמְרָה יֵשׁ לְהַפְסִיק, אֲבָל בַּבְּרָכוֹת שֶׁלִּפְנֵי קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע אֵין לְהַפְסִיק כְּלָל בִּשְׁבִיל פָּסוּק רִאשׁוֹן שֶׁל קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע, אֶלָּא יֹאמַר אוֹתָן הַתֵּבוֹת בְּנִגּוּן כְּמוֹ שֶׁהַצִּבּוּר אוֹמְרִים קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע.10

וּלְעִנְיַן הֲלָכָה לְמַעֲשֶׂה – כִּסְבָרָא הַג', דְּבִפְסוּקֵי דְּזִמְרָה – יֵשׁ לְהַפְסִיק, וּבְאֶמְצַע הַבְּרָכוֹת שֶׁל קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע – אֵין לְהַפְסִיק, אֶלָּא יֹאמַר הַתֵּבוֹת בְּנִגּוּן הַצִּבּוּר. וּמָאן דְּמַפְסִיק בִּבְרָכוֹת דִּקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע לִקְרֹא פָּסוּק רִאשׁוֹן עִם הַצִּבּוּר – רָאוּי לִגְעֹר בּוֹ:

3 If one had already recited the Shema and entered a synagogue where he found the congregation reciting the Shema, it is desirable that he recite the entire Shema together with them. For this his reward will be equivalent to that of a person who reads [passages from] the Torah. His obligation, however, is only to [recite] the first verse [with them], as has been explained.

ג קָרָא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וְנִכְנַס לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת וּמָצָא צִבּוּר שֶׁקּוֹרִין קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע – טוֹב שֶׁיִּקְרָא עִמָּהֶם כָּל קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וִיקַבֵּל שָׂכָר כְּקוֹרֵא בַּתּוֹרָה.כב אֲבָל אֵינוֹ חַיָּב רַק בְּפָסוּק רִאשׁוֹן,כג כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר:כד