A person is obligated to start Shemoneh Esrei immediately after mentioning the Exodus (Shulchan Aruch 111,1). Throughout the blessing of Emes V’Yatziv we arouse Hashem’s love for us by mentioning some of the miracles that He did for us during our redemption from Egypt. The moment we finish this blessing is the most opportune time to petition Hashem for our needs (Rashi, ibid.).
Although we talk about the redemption throughout the blessing of Emes V’Yatziv, the mitzva not to interrupt only applies after concluding the final blessing of Ga’al Yisrael. As soon as one completes this blessing he should start Shemoneh Esrei. Even a silent pause for more than a few seconds is considered a break between the mention of redemption and prayer (Mishna Berura 111,2).
According to the Zohar, answering amen to the blessing of Ga’al Yisrael that the prayer leader says is not considered an interruption. While the Rema follows this ruling, the Shulchan Aruch considers answering amen an interruption (Rema 111,1).
In order to resolve this dispute, halachic authorities search for ways to circumvent answering amen. Some suggest that the prayer leader should say the final words of the blessing Ga’al Yisrael silently (Rav Chaim Kanievsky as cited in Ishei Yisrael 17,83), while others recommend that each member of the congregation should recite Ga’al Yisrael together with the prayer leader (Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach as cited in Halichos Shlomo 7,18). Whatever practice one adopts, he should make sure to begin Shemoneh Esrei immediately afterwards.
Text Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org