by Rav Yaakov Klass, originally published in The Jewish Press

Ga’al Yisrael Aloud, Part II

Question: In the course of my travels I have discovered that different synagogues and sometimes-different chazzanim treat the blessing of Ga’al Yisrael, right before Shemoneh Esreh differently with some saying it aloud and others fading it, before they begin the silent Shemoneh Esreh. Is one way correct and the other incorrect?

M. Goldman

Via email

Synopsis: To answer this question we began our discussion citing from the work of Rabbi Yaakov Simcha Cohen Zt”l “Jewish Prayer The Right Way: Resolving Halachic Dilemmas” [Urim publications, Jerusalem . New York]. He noted that the Shaliach Tzibbur in Chassidic congregations and even among some non-Chassidim fade out the last words of the blessing Ga’al Yisrael. Thus answering Amen is preempted in order to fulfill “semichat geulah l’tefilla. On the other hand Rabbi Eliyahu Henkin Zt”l (Eidut L’Yisrael, p. 161) ruled that this is not according to halacha, especially as the Shaliach Tzibbur is to discharge the congregants prayer and blessing requirements. Rabbi Cohen then cited the dispute between the Mechaber and Rema (O.C. 111.1) the former ruling one is not to answer Amen to the Shaliach Tzibbur’s blessing Ga’al Yisrael and the latter permitting the Amen response. Rabbi Cohen now continues.

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Answer: Rabbi Cohen notes a similar matter: “There is a debate among scholars as to whether “Amen” should be recited [in response to the Shaliach Tzibbur’s blessing of “Ha’Bocher b’Amo Yisrael B’Ahavah”] prior to the Shema. The Mishna Berurah (O.C. 60: sk25) notes that a preferred custom is to conclude the beracha with the Shaliach Tzibbur so that no one need respond “Amen” after the beracha. Of concern is why such a custom is not suggested for the Ga’al Yisrael Beracha?

“Indeed, the congregation should recite the conclusion of the beracha together with the Shaliach Tzibbur. There is no need to alter the structural role of the Shaliach Tzibbur in order to militate against an unwarranted response of Amen. In many large congregations, it is customary for the Tzur Yisrael introductory phrases of the Ga’al Yisrael beracha to be sung in unison with the Shaliach Tzibbur. Yet the actual beracha of “Baruch Atah Hashem…” is sung only by the Shaliach Tzibbur, with the concluding phrase, “Ga’al Yisrael,” is recited silently.

“A Custom more suited to Halachic principles would be for all to sing together the beracha itself, though this is not common practice. It should be noted that HaGaon Rav Yaakov Lorberbaum of Lissa, the famed author of Chavat Daat ruled that it is preferred custom to recite the Ga’al Yisrael beracha together with the Shaliach Tzibbur (Derech HaChayyim).

“The Shulchan Aruch Harav (penned by the noted founder of the Chabad movement, HaGaon HaRav Shneur Zalman of Liadi Zt”l.) also rules (Orach Chayyim 66:sk9) that common custom is to recite Amen after the Shaliach Tzibbur’s beracha of Ga’al Yisrael. Those who wish to accommodate all positions, suggests Horav Shneur Zalman [referenced many times in both Aruch HaShulchan and Mishna Berura as the G’raz – the gaon Reb Zalman], should conclude the beracha simultaneously with the Shaliach Tzibbur.

Rabbi Cohen concludes: “Perhaps this custom should be reinstituted for congregational prayer.”

I found the following in the Chayyeh Adam [the famous halachic work of HaRav Avraham Danzig, Rav in Vilna] who writes the following (Klall 21:18) “One must connect Geulah to Tefillah and it is forbidden to interrupt between them at all even insofar as Kaddish, or Kedusha. And it is proper to conclude with the Shaliach Tzibbur for then one is not duty bound to answer Amen and connecting Geulah to Tefillah {redemption to prayer] super-cedes Tefillah B’Tzibbur [congregational prayer].

When I first saw this I was taken aback how is it possible to super-cede Tefillah B’Tzibbur and yet connect Geulah to Tefillah. Is not the congregational prayer the optimal form of prayer?

I subsequently saw the following from the Mechaber (Orach Chayyim 111:3) “If one had not yet recited the Keriat Shema [obviously with the accompanying blessings] and he found the congregation already praying [the Shemoneh Esreh] he is not to [now begin] to pray with them. Rather he is to read the Keriat Shema [obviously with the accompanying blessings] and then pray [the Shemoneh Esreh] for connecting Geulah to Tefillah is a priority.

Indeed, what is the reason that we are required to connect Geulah to Tefillah? The Rema (infra 111:1, citing Tur) states as we cited earlier: “There are those who say that one may answer Amen when hearing the blessing Ga’al Yisrael and such is the custom. Now there are those who say that the requirement to connect Geulah to Tefillah only applies to weekdays or Yom Tov but not on the Sabbath the reason being that the reason we connect Geulah to Tefillah is because it states (Psalms 19:15) “Yih’yu l’ratzon imrei fi v’hegyon libi lifanecha Hashem Tzuri v’Goali – May the expressions of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before You, Hashem, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Then following is the verse  (Psalms 20:2) “Ya’ancha Hashem b’yom tzoroh yesageb’cha Shem Elokei Yaakov – May Hashem answer you on the day of your distress, may the Name of the G-d of Jacob make you impregnable.” [note: we have amended the text as according to the Tur] The Sabbath on the other hand is not a time of ‘tzoroh’ – distress. Rema continues: “In my humble opinion it seems that why this is not so on weekdays and Yom Tov [that we must connect we must Geulah to Tefillah] is because they are considered days of judgment as the Mishna (First chapter tractate Rosh Hashana, second Mishna) states: “On Pesach we are judged insofar the growth of our crops…” However it is best to opt for stringency if not for where there is need [Basically such as where one came in late and did not yet recite Keriat Shema with its blessings].

Taz (ad loc) notes the obvious that the Mechaber does not agree with the Rema [or the Tur whom he citing for that matter] as he states that to derive from the connection of those two verses is only a scriptural support and is of no consequence but notwithstanding there is a requirement to connect Geulah to Tefillah and therefore the Rema wrote that it is best to opt for stringency.

To be continued

Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press.  He can be contacted at