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65:1. If one says it [Shema] “in jumps”, i.e., he starts saying it and then stopped – either by remaining silent (1) or talking – and then continued and finished it, even if the break was long enough to read all of it, he has fulfilled the requirement even if he was forced to make the break. {Rama: (2) There are those who say that if he was forced to make a break, and he stopped long enough (3) to read it all, then (4) he should go back (5) to the beginning, and (6) this is our custom. Judging the time he stopped [whether it was long enough to read the entire Shema] is (7) based upon the one who is saying Shema, and not an average from the majority of people (Rashb”a, end of chapter two of Tractate Berachot). This is the same as in siman 104 [which deals with making a break in the middle of the Amidah].}

MB 1: Or talking – even if he talks on purpose, in which case he has transgressed, even so he needs only to go back [after the break] to where he stopped, and even if he stopped in the middle of a blessing. The same is true if one talks in the middle of Hallel, reading the Megilla, Grace after Meals or any other long blessing. This is all true if he is saying it himself – but if he is fulfilling his requirement by listening to someone else and he talks in the middle, since he can’t hear what the other is saying he clearly cannot have fulfilled his requirement. Each of these cases [Hallel, Megilla, Grace after Meals] will be explained later on, each in its on place see there. And see the Biur Halacha, in which we write that it is best to say Shema again if he talked on purpose, since there are opinions that one needs to go back to the beginning.

MB 2: There are those who say that if etc. – the reason is that in the case where he didn’t have to stop, meaning he could have read Shema if he wanted to, the silence or even the talking is not considered a break; but if he was forced to stop, then the pause is considered a break since he was actually unable to read Shema at that time. And see the Magen Avraham who says that this is if he was forced to stop because something was wrong personally, e.g., he had to go to the bathroom, or there was something wrong with the place, e.g., he found excrement or urine and he had to stop until he took them out. However, in other cases [where he must stop] such as [an attack by] robbers and such, it is as if he was silent willingly in which case it isn’t considered a break according to this opinion. And all this is only for Shema and its blessings – but for the Amidah he goes back to the beginning even in the case of robbers as will be explained in siman 104; see there in MB 16.

MB 3: To read it all* – i.e., [the time it takes to say it] from the beginning to the end, even if he is [almost] at the end. [* The Hebrew expression in the Shulchan Aruch was “enough time to complete it,” so one might have thought otherwise. — YM]

MB 4: He should go back – All this is after the fact, but beforehand he certainly should not stop reading for enough time to read it all, even if he is not forced, even remaining silent, and even when he is saying something that is only a rabinnic obligation such as the blessings of Shema, Hallel, reading the Megillah, and other examples. And even more so in the Amida, one must be very careful about this, because there are those who are strict even after the fact [i.e., if one made a long stop during the Amida then he must go back to the beginning]. It seems from the Magen Avraham that it is best that the Chazan be careful not to lengthen the tunes during the blessings of Shema in such a manner that there will be one stop long enough to finish the whole blessing because then the congregation will have to be quiet for a long time because of him. (It seems to me [the Mishna Berura] that one must be careful in the Priestly Blessing, which is a Torah obligation, that the congregation not take too long saying their pleas in the middle, because then the priests are silent for a long period in the middle of the blessing. Because of this, it is best to follow something that I saw written in the name of Gr”a (and so it seems in siman 128 paragraph 45 in the Rama) that the third time one should also say “Ribono shel olam” and not the longer “Yehee ratzon,” because many times the priests are not singing at all but rather are standing and waiting until the congregation is finished – and because of this sometimes there is enough time to finish it all [the priestly blessing]). To answer Kaddish or Kedusha one may stop even if the break is long enough to finish it all. It seems from the Shulchan Shlomo that this true only if one is at the end of the blessing “Emet veyatziv” [which is the last blessing before the Amida] i.e., he is at the section “Shira chadasha” and as it is written in siman 66, but if he has not reached “Shira chadasha” it is better if he stops on and off in the middle of the blessing so that each period is less then is needed to finish it all.

MB 5: To the beginning – i.e., if he stopped in Shema, even if the break was only enough to finish the Shema itself,one should go back to the beginning of Shema. However, if the break was in a blessing, then he only goes back if the break was long enough to finish from “yotzeir or” until “ga’al yisrael” [i.e., all the blessings of Shema]. And see the Biur Halacha where we explained that if one stopped _between_ the blessings, then in any case there is no need to go back and make the blessing. However, if one paused between paragraphs in the Shema itself, then if he was forced and the break was long enough to finish the entire Shema, then he must go back to the beginning [of Shema].

MB 6: This is our custom – and so decided the later authorities, and the same is true for the Amida, Hallel, Megilla, and the priestly blessing as we explained in the Biur Halacha, see there.

MB 7: According to the one who is saying – whether this is more lenient or more strict [i.e., if he reads slowly then he can make a longer break without going back, and if he reads quickly then he can only make a short break].

65:2. (8) One who said Shema and came to shul and found the congregation (9) saying Shema, he must say (10) the first verse with them, so that it does not appear as if he does not want to accept the yoke of heaven with his friends. The same is true if he is in shul and saying other prayers or verses and he is at a place where he is allowed to make a stop, but if he is at a place [in the prayer] where he is not allowed to stop, e.g., after “Baruch she’amar” then (11) he shouldn’t stop, but rather he should continue what he is saying and while the congregation is saying the first verse, he should say what he is saying in the same tune as the congregation so that it seems as if he is saying Shema with the congregation. [It is also customary to cover one’s eyes along with the congregation.]

MB 8: One who said Shema – And even more so if he hasn’t yet said Shema, he should say the first verse – but he shouldn’t have in mind to fulfill his obligation to read the Shema with this, because he isn’t wearing tefillin, and because it is without the blessings, and as mentioned above at the end of siman 46 in the Mishna Berura, see there. It seems to me that this is the case even if he hasn’t yet said the blessings over the Torah, since he is not saying the verse in order to study. However in such a case he should be careful not to say more than the first verse.

MB 9: saying Shema – and the same is true for any other prayer that the congregation says such as Ashrei and Aleinu, one should say with them because that is good manners.

MB 10: the first verse – and also the second verse, “Blessed…”. It is the opinion of the Gr”a in his explanations that one should say all of Shema with the congregation. However it seems that during the Verses of Prayer, [between Baruch She’amar and Yishtabach] one shouldn’t be strict and should only say the first verse – because according to the Mechaber even that shouldn’t be said.

MB 11: he shouldn’t stop – and the later authorities wrote that during Baruch she’amar, Yishtabach, and the Verses of Praise one should stop in order to accept the yoke of heaven with the congregation, but during the blessings of Shema and even between the blessings one shouldn’t stop at all, but rather should say the words of the blessing in the tune that the congregation is saying Shema.

Avi Bloch


Siman 65. One who comes to Shul (Synagogue) and finds the congregation reading the Shema, or one who interrupts while reading (cont.)

65:3. If after reading the Shema, one entered the synagogue and found the congregation reading the Shema, then it is good if he reads the whole of it with them – and he will receive reward as one who is reading Torah [as he has already fulfilled his Mitzvah of reading the Shema before coming into the synagogue, he has already merited the reward for that –SP]. {Rema: But he is only duty bound to read the first verse [with the congregation] as we have explained [in 65:2].