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Shabbat Parashat Beshalach 5776

Ask the Rabbi: Waiting Between the Beracha and the Kriat Hatorah

Rav Daniel Mann

Question: In my shul (I am the rav), it is often too noisy to start laining right after the beracha. (How long/) may we delay the beginning of the aliya?


Answer: We must investigate different distinctions in the laws of hefsek. (Realize that many sources equate talking between a beracha and the food it goes on to talking between a beracha and the mitzva it goes on.) 1) Speaking is a more problematic break than silence. For example, a single word is a hefsek, while the time it takes to say a single word is not (Mishna Berura 206:12). 2) The most sensitive time is between the beracha and the start of the matter to which it pertains. For example, if one speaks a pasuk or more into an aliya, he does not have to make a new beracha (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 140:2). If he spoke inappropriately in between the beracha and the beginning of the laining, he would have to repeat it (Mishna Berura 140:6). 3) A break that serves a purpose for that which the beracha relates to (e.g., one who asks for salt between the beracha on bread and eating it) does not necessitate repeating the beracha (Shulchan Aruch, OC 167:6).

In your question, waiting silently before the beginning of the aliya, there are two factors for leniency (silence, for a good reason) and one of stringency (before beginning the aliya). Let us consider the extent of the leniencies.

The Beit Yosef (OC 206) cites a Shibolei Haleket who says, based on his understanding of a Yerushalmi, that if one pauses between the beracha and its subject (regarding food and mitzvot), for more than k’dei dibbur (1-2 seconds), he must repeat the beracha. However, the Magen Avraham (206:3) paskens against this, at least regarding after the fact (i.e., not repeating the beracha), citing the following discussion in the Beit Yosef (OC 140). On Chanuka/Rosh Chodesh they opened the wrong Torah first and had to roll it to the right place (from Naso to Pinchas) after the opening beracha. Some argued that they should have made another beracha for two reasons: 1. The delay for rolling was too long. 2. The beracha was made with an intention for the wrong place. The Avudraham rejects reason #1 because a break of silence does not disqualify, and the Beit Yosef seems to agree. Regarding reason #2, the Beit Yosef is unsure (he cites both opinions in the Shulchan Aruch (OC 140:3)). Regarding #1, some learn from the fact we do not cut loaves of bread until after the beracha (Berachot 39b) that a moderate delay is not a problem (unless people took their mind off the fact the beracha was made (Mishna Berura 206:12)).

The Rama (206:3) does say not to wait more than k’dei dibbur between a beracha and the food. This is even for waiting silently but, on the other hand, this is only to be avoided l’chatchila – the wait does not necessitate repeating the beracha (see Mishna Berura 206:12; Mor Va’aholot OC 1).

The Rama (OC 167:6) says that one should avoid where possible talking even for a purpose related to the subject of the beracha. We see from the above discussion that according to the Shibolei Leket, a silent break is a problem even if one is involved in getting the mitzva done (e.g., rolling the sefer Torah). (Apparently, this is talking about time beyond normal transition time, as regarding laining and shofar, for example, it is very common to take a few seconds to find the right word or place the shofar at the right spot.) It is unclear if according to those who accept the Shibolei Leket only l’chatchila, we should avoid a silent break when the silence plays a productive role.

We summarize as follows. It is certainly preferable to wait for quiet before the berachot and if there is only a slight disturbance, to read at least one pasuk before stopping. If one is going to stop, it is best for it to be less than the amount of time to recite the birkat Hatorah (see Ritva, Megilla 21b) or at least the amount of time it takes to read the first three p’sukim (see discussion in Mor Va’aholot ibid). However, if the need to wait is acute, even a moderate break can be justified.

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