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Birkot HaShachar

Various Rabbis23 Sivan 5765
1541
Question
Common custom in synagogues throughout the world is for the person who leads the Services for Shacharit to commence his role by reciting orally the Birkot HaShachar. Of concern is the necessity or rationale for this custom. Why these Berachot and not others? Why do the congregational prayers begin with Berchot HaShachar and not, for example, Birkot HaTorah or other prayers?
Answer
The Shulchan Aruch rules “it became customary to say all the Birkot HaShachar in the synagogue service and for the congregation to respond Amen to these blessings and thus fulfill their obligation. (Orach Chayim 46:2) The implication is that one could rely on the services of the Sh’liach Tzibur by reciting Amen to the Berchot HaShachar orally chanted in the synagogue. This indicates that all congregants even those fluent in prayers would be included in the Berachot of the Sh’liach Tzibur. This Halacha appears to go against the general rule that a Shliach Tzibur may only include (be Motzei) those who do not know how to pray. To refute this charge, the Mishna Berura cites the Magen Avraham in the name of the L’vush who rules that the Shliach Tzibur may include in the Birkot HaShachar those who know how to pray provided that there is at least a minyon available. (46: 13) Though the Mishna Berura concludes that the custom is for each person to recite himself Birkot HaShachar and not to rely on the services of the Sh’liach Tzibur, the position of the L’vush provides an explanation as to why synagogues commence congregational services with Birkot HaShachar. Namely, at one time in history,the Birkat HaShachar had (according to the L’vush) a communal function. Accordingly, when the congregation came together it was natural to commence with Birkot HaShachar. It is of interest to note that the Shulchan Aruch does not even make mention of the need to recite “Baruch Hu U’varuch Sh’mo” at each time G-d’s Name is said in every Beracha. To the extent that the original custom was to include all congregants in the Birkot HaShachar, it was self evident that “Baruch Hu U’varuch Sh’mo” was not to be recited. This is based on the general rule that when included in the Beracha of another, “Baruch Hu U’varuch Sh’mo” is an unwarranted interruption, a Hefsik. On the other hand, those who call out “Baruch Hu U’varuch Sh’mo” during Birkot HaShachar,in contemporary times, perhaps, wish to overtly demonstrate that they are not included in the Berachot of the Sh’liach Tzibur. Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen
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