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Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik

by R. Aharon Ziegler

Many people coming to Yerushalayim are surprised and taken off guard when Friday night in Shul immediately after the beracha of Hashkiveinu,” the shaliach tzibbur begins Kaddish—a entirely omitting the pesukim of “Veshamru.”

The fact of the matter is that Rav Soloveitchik himself followed this minhag. The Rav explained that this practice is based on the fact that the Gemara in Berachot (9b) indicates that the beracha of Hashkiveinu is considered a “Geulah Arichta,” an extension of the theme of redemption highlighted in the previous beracha of “Gaal Yisrael,” “Who redeemed Israel.” Therefore, the recitation of Hashkiveinu does not constitute a hefseik, an interruption between the beracha of Gaal Yisrael and the Shemoneh Esrei, which should be next to each other. Any other insertion prior to the Shemoneh Esrei, however, would be considered a hefseik and thus should not be said at all.

This of course would be true for the recitation of “Vayedaber Moshe Et Moadei HaShem” on Pesach, Shavu’ot and Sukkot, as well as “Tiku Bachodesh Shofar” on Rosh HaShanah and “Ki Bayom HaZeh” on Yom Kippur.

Although the common practice is to recite those pesukim, and this practice is indeed justified by Tosafot in Berachot (4b) arguing that since the Rabbanim decreed them to be said they are therefore considered as an extension of Ge’ulah Arichta. Nevertheless, the Rav did not say them and in Yerushalayim, also in communities that follow Minhag-Yerushalayim, they are NOT said.

About Aharon Ziegler

Rabbi Aharon Ziegler is the Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Agudath Achim of Boro Park and the Dean and Rosh Kollel of Kollel Agudath Achim. He is the author of six volumes of Halakhic Positions of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.


  1. More, in the Qaddish before the Amidah, R JB Soloveitchik only answered twice — Yehei Shemei Rabba… and the final Amein. The other responses are later minhagim, and therefore also unlicensed interruptions.

  2. According to the Gra, and the Rav, who strictly require smikhat geula l’tfila in ma’ariv – how do they explain the institution of kadish before amida at all? It is not mentioned in the sugya as either a geula arichta or a tfila arichta – so why is it there? Is this not evidence that smikha is not actually required?

  3. MiMedinat HaYam

    Chabad also does not say it.

  4. Note that seder R’ Saadya Gaon, as well as the old nusach Aram Tzova, have ve’shameru followed by yiru eineini, so ve’shameru is merely replacing the pesukim of boruch Hashem l’olam which are said the rest of the week

    • I’m not sure how it would work as a replacement. “Barukh Hashem leOlam” is a surrogate for Shemoneh Esrei, and is therefore tefillah, and it does follow ge’ulah — with that Qaddish in between that I agree with Ya’akov requires explanation.

      However, the Yerushalmi records a nusach (not as the only one) where people said Shema at Maariv after Shemoneh Esrei. There is support that there were communities that followed that in practice among the Cairo Geniza siddur fragments.

      The night Shema is “when you go to sleep”, so there is motive to move it to the end of the service, without another mitzvah (tefillah) in between. This machloqes is cited in the name of Israeli amoraim in the Bavli, Berachos 4b. R’ Yochanan has Shema first, for the ge’ulah-to-tefilah reason, and R Yehoshua ben Levi says that Shema brackets the day’s Amidos (Shema last). Back in the Y-mi, the reason given is the same as why we say Ashrei in Minchah, so that we say tefillah after being prepared by learning. Notice that the Y-mi doesn’t seem to place value on saying ge’ulah next to tefillah.

      And since the Israeli tradition has much influence on Ashkenaz… That may be why the traditional Ashkenazi practice cares less about the interruption than did the Gra or the Briskers, who tend to rely more heavily on the Bavli and the Rambam.

  5. djroth: Baruch Hashem isn’t said in Israel either.

    • In terms of practice, there were three communities that settled in Israeli in the 19th century: Chabad, students of the Gra, and Sepharadim. In general, anything at least two of these communities did in common became Minhag Eretz Yisrael. As already noted: the Gra didn’t say it, and Chabad doesn’t, so it’s unsurprising that it’s not said in Israel. Add to that the fact that Edot haMizrach don’t, and it’s a slam dunk.

  6. One must be careful in distinguishing Halachik positions of the Rav eg necessary size of mechitzah and explanations of various minhaggim that he followed as a Brisker that would not expect others to follow.
    Thus, I saw the Rav who had occasion to speak at a schul when he was an avel take the amud for Maariv and not only not skip baruch hashem but say openly out loud the ending “ki hamalcut shelcha…” clearly different than others who I’ve seen stay silent for others to recite andgo to kadish after a decent interval.
    Even not involving a schules minhag he didn’t hold that others should follow Brisker minhagim-thus when asked by someone whose family did not put on tfillin what he should do about chol hamoed he told the person-example was NY talmid of ashkenazic background-the Rav told the person to put on tfillin when asked but Rebbe you don’t whats that got to do with your sheilah.

    • mycroft: I am unaware of any contemporary poseik who holds that one who visits a shul with a different nusach should lead davening using his own nusach. Rather, contemporary poskim appear uniform in ruling that the guest shaliach tzibbur must follow the community’s nusach for the public portions of davening. How is the Rav’s behavior as shaliach tzibbur remarkable?

  7. “How is the Rav’s behavior as shaliach tzibbur remarkable?”
    Not remarkable but I have seen many saying nothing and waiting silently in baruch hashem.
    A remarkable thing that I remember is that the Rav led a minyan Thursday night in May 67 at 802 when sunset was 801 and about 7 minutes later the Rav was a faster davener than most RY-the Rav led Sfirah with a bracha. Since then I’ve always counted after any minyan that is after shkia.

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