Barchu Later than the Normal End of Tefilla

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by R. Daniel Mann

Question: One night, the person saying Kaddish at the end of Ma’ariv forgot to say Barchu afterward (Barchu Batra =BB), and the chazan started leading Tehillim (for the war). Could we have done BB after the Tehillim and Mi Sheberach we say?


Answer: BB, which most batei knesset in Israel recite at the end of Shacharit and Ma’ariv (a minority of Ashkenazim do so abroad) grew out of the concept of poress al Shema (=paS), which is found already in a mishna (Megilla 24a). Barchu was instituted as an introduction to the berachot of Kri’at Shema, which leads into Shemoneh Esrei (see Rivash 334). PaS allows those who missed this process to join the tzibbur and salvage what they can. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 69:1) presents, as the classic case, those who davened without a minyan; paS enables them to take part in Kaddish, Barchu, and a repeat of the first beracha of Kri’at Shema, which, in the morning, includes a Kedusha. In contrast, the Rama points out that the mode of paS practiced in his time/place did not include the first beracha of Kri’at Shema. The Mishna Berura (69:1) cites important poskim who say that paS, even for just doing Barchu, is only for those who did not yet daven.

BB is a few steps removed from the above. BB is done at the end of tefilla, whereas paS is not necessarily done then (see Mishna Berura, intro. to siman 69). A more major difference is what need triggers saying Barchu. Classic paS is when someone missed something, either by not hearing Barchu at all, or hearing it not before Birchot Kri’at Shema (which he is now up to). In contrast, BB is done even if no one is known to have missed, because it is possible that such a person is present (Rama, OC 131:1).

The origins of this minhag are not fully clear. Massechet Sofrim (10:6) speaks of saying Barchu right before or after Shemoneh Esrei because of concern for “those who come and those who leave.” The Rivash (Shut 334) sees this as a source for BB, while pointing out that the Rambam and Tur do not cite it and that there is opposition to it on the grounds that Barchu needs to be an introduction to a beracha. (The likely answer is that the response of “Baruch Hashem Hamevorach …” itself can be that beracha.) There are indications that various Rishonim had differing texts and/or understandings of Massechet Sofrim. The Rivash does not like doing BB when it is known that no one missed Barchu.

The Shulchan Aruch (OC 133:1) is sensitive to the idea that one cannot say BB anytime, but only when it fits the need. He rules that one does not say BB after Shabbat morning davening because people are not expected to be late enough to justify it. This is either because they will not be up to Birchot Kri’at Shema when Mussaf is over (see Rivash) or because we expect that they heard Barchu in Kri’at Hatorah. The difference between the approaches is the minhag of Nusach Ashkenaz of Israel to omit it on Mondays/Thursdays because of Barchu in Kri’at Hatorah. The Kaf Hachayim (OC 133:1) explains the Sephardi minhag to do BB at every Shacharit and Ma’ariv based on Kabbala – the second Barchu supplements spiritual elements not covered by the first one.

The exact timing of BB is likely important. The Chazon Ish is cited as saying that since it is for latecomers, we should wait as long as possible (see application in Dirshu 133:1). However, it apparently must be connected to Shacharit or Ma’ariv (see Si’ach Tefilla 16:5 in Rav Elyashiv’s name). When does tefilla end when shuls say Tehillim due to the war after davening? Does Tehillim extend the tefilla, like Shir Shel Yom or Pitum Haketoret do? Or is it just a logical time to say Tehillim? My guess is the latter, and therefore one can logically say that we should not further expand the chiddush of BB when it has been delayed. We present two possible compromise ideas: 1. Do the standard BB after the Tehillim only if someone missed Barchu; 2. Add a Kaddish after the Tehillim, and then say Barchu (there are strong indications that BB is connected to Kaddish, including that one who said Kaddish does BB).

לעילוי נשמת יואל אפרים בן אברהם עוזיאל זלצמן ז”ל

About Daniel Mann

This column is produced on behalf of Eretz Hemdah by Rabbi Daniel Mann. Rabbi Mann is a Dayan for Eretz Hemdah and a staff member of Yeshiva University's Gruss Kollel in Israel. He is a senior member of the Eretz Hemdah responder staff, editor of Hemdat Yamim and the author of Living the Halachic Process, volumes 1 and 2 and A Glimpse of Greatness.

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