by Rav Yaakov Klass, originally published in The Jewish Press

Ga’al Yisrael Aloud, Part IV

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: 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 notes a similar dispute regarding the blessing “Ha’Bocher B’Amo Yisrael B’Ahavah” prior to Shema. Mishnah Berurah states that preferred is to recite with the Shaliach Tzibbur thus avoiding the need to respond Amen. Leaving the question why not suggest the same with Ga’al Yisrael? Rabbi Cohen notes that many do accordingly. He quotes Rabbi Yaakov of Lissa, who suggests that as the proper practice. He concludes with a citation from Shulchan Aruch Harav, who says while common custom is to respond Amen, that he too suggests concluding with the Shaliach Tzibbur. I then cited Chayyeh Adam who notes that one must always connect Geulah to Tefillah even at the cost of Tefillah B’Tzibbur. Indeed the Mechaber relates as to the situation where one cannot do both {obviously where he is in the midst of the Keriat Shema and its blessings]. Citing Rema, we made note of the difference between Sabbath prayer [where there would be leniency] and Weekday prayer [no leniency] due to certain scriptural adjacencies. Nevertheless Taz reading into Rema is that even insofar Sabbath prayers we opt for stringency. We then cited Berachot (9b) where the Gemara cited the various verses from where we derive the need to join Geulah to Tefillah. Now we continue with our discussion.      

*   *   *   *

Answer: The Gemara (supra Berachot 9b) states another matter regarding joining Geulah to Tefillah. “We were taught in a Baraita, the Vatikin used to finish [the recital of Shema] with sunrise, in order to join Geulah to Tefillah and say the Tefillah in the daytime. R. Zeira said: What is its scriptural support? “Yira’ucha im Shemesh, v’lifnei yareach dor dorim – They will fear you as the sun and the moon endure, generation to generation.”

Rashi explains that the latter reference to the moon refers to the Mincha – afternoon prayer that it too is properly said with the waning of the sun.

“R. Yosi b. Elyakim testified, in the name of the community of Jerusalem: One who joins Geulah to Tefillah will suffer no mishap for that entire day. R. Zeira responded, “That is not so for I joined Geulah to Tefillah and nevertheless met with a mishap. When asked as to his mishap he responded: “I had to carry a myrtle branch to the king’s palace [he was required to do some forced labor for the king]. They retorted: That was no mishap, for in any case you would have had to pay in order to see the king. For R. Yochanan said: ‘A man should always be eager to run to see the kings of Israel. And not only should one be eager to see the kings of Israel, but also to see the kings of the Gentiles, so that, if he is found worthy he may be able to distinguish between the kings of Israel and the kings of the Gentiles.’

Tosafot (s.v, “kol ha’someich geulah l’tefillah…”) ask regarding the incident of R. Bruna [cited earlier] who once succeeded in joining Geulah to Tefillah and a smile did not depart his lips the entire day. What new thing is R. Bruna introducing that a smile did not depart his lips the entire day, for everyone joins Geulah to Tefillah? Tosafot answer that this is referring to those special pious people, the Vatikin, who recite Keriat Shema before sunrise and Tefillah [immediately] after sunrise.

From Tosafot we also see that the statement that one who joins Geulah to Tefillah will suffer no mishap actually refers to those pious people as well, the Vatikin, as they fulfill the mitzvah in its optimum manner [see Tosafot supra s.v. “l’keriat shema k’vatikin”).

We thus see how important it is to join Geulah to Tefillah.

As to joining Geulah to Tefillah, we find the following interesting scenario cited in the sefer “Nefesh HaRav” by Rabbi Herschel Schachter Shlit’a, Rosh Kollel and Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS of Yeshiva University. Once [on a Shabbat when he was yet in Europe] the Gaon Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik Zt”l, Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS came late to the synagogue and by the time that he reached Ga’al Yisrael the congregation was ready to recite the Musaf Shemoneh Esreh and he was unsure as to whether he should recite the Shemoneh Esreh of Shacharit or that of Musaf.

He decided to join in with them and recite the Musaf Shemoneh Esreh, because by doing so he would fulfill the obligation of Tefillah B’Tzibbur – the congregational prayer [of Musaf]. He thought as well that he also fulfilled the obligation of joining Geulah to Tefillah, for the requirement is not that one must specifically recite the Shacharit Shemoneh Esreh to do so, rather to fulfill the requirement it is sufficient to pray any Shemoneh Esreh, that will immediately follow Ga’al Yisrael. As a proof he reasoned that since we have the minhag of connecting Geulah to Tefillah at Maariv [even though there is the interruption of Hashkiveinu], and further even according to the one who is of the opinion that one need not join Geulah to Tefillah at night it is not because the reason to connect is only for the Shacharit prayer, rather the reason is because the perfect redemption is not at night, therefore there is no need to connect Geulah to Tefillah at night.

However by day where there is a requirement to connect Geulah to Tefillah, it is possible to say that one fulfills the requirement even with the Mincha Shemoneh Esreh, and according to Rambam’s view who rules that one who [first] recited Keriat Shema even after its required time does not lose the [accompanying] blessings and may be said the entire day, even after Chatzot – mid-day, for it seemed a simple matter that by reciting the Mincha Shemoneh Esreh right after the blessing Ga’al Yisrael, one fulfills the obligation of joining Geulah to Tefillah. Therefore he concluded that in this case his reciting the Musaf Shemoneh Esreh right after Ga’al Yisrael he would discharge his obligation.

When Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik later spoke to his father, the Gaon Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik Zt”l, he agreed with him in the matter of connecting Geulah to Tefillah, but according to his reasoning even had he recited the Shacharit Shemoneh Esreh at the same time that the congregation was reciting the Musaf Shemoneh Esreh, he would also have discharged Tefillah B’Tzibbur – the congregational prayer, because to be considered Tefillah B’Tzibbur there is no requirement that all pray the same Tefillah.

The Gaon Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik Zt”l [Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS] in recounting this episode sought to clarify. Possibly there is place to differentiate, that there are two distinct aspects involved here. One is Tefillah B’tzibbur – prayer together with the congregation and the other is Tefillah of the congregation. Even though one might be correct in reasoning like Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik, however [according to latter aspect] it is still possible that that when the Shaliach Tzibbur repeats the Shemoneh Esreh Chazarat Ha’Shatz, of Musaf, since the individual recited the Shemoneh Esreh of Shacharit he will not be included in Shaliach Tzibbur’s prayer.

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