(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Bais Medrash (c) Torah.Org

Date: Sun, 15 Aug 1999 23:03:25 -0400 (EDT)
From: Russell Hendel <  rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu>
Subject: Re: She'ilos on Davenning

A few issues ago I suggested that (1) the main part of our praying was the
Shmoneh Esray and hence (2) a person who walked into shule late and found
the congregation saying Shmoneh Esray should say it with them and go back
and say Kriath Shmah later. 2 private communications to me cited Orach
Chaiim 111:3 which contradicts this (You do NOT say Shmoneh Esray with them).

However according to the Bear HaGolah this is an opinion of the Rashbah. I
would therefore like to suggest that the opinion I stated is the opinion of
the Rambam (who in Prayer 10:16 says WITHOUT DISTINCTION that if you come
into shule late and can pray immediately with the congregation you do so).
Thus, what behavior to follow if you come to shule late is a controversy
between the Rambam and Rashbah.

To explain the controversy I must first introduce two concepts.
(1)According to the Rambam (Prayer 8:1) communal prayer is an intrinsically
different type of prayer than individual prayer and is eg always answered.
(2) The reason for linking shma before prayer is not that clear and is
usually proved by citing isolated verses which however appear more as pegs
than as reasons. My own opinion on why Shma precedes prayer starts with the
observation that all prayer has 3 phases: (1) PRAISE GOD (2) SUPPLICATION
(3) THANK GOD (PRayer 1:2).

Therefore, since the recital of the Shmah--the acceptance of the yolk of
heaven--fits more closely to PRAISE of GOD rather than THANKS to God it
follows that SHMA should be said BEFORE the Shmoneh Esray rather than after
it. By so doing WE MAKE OUR SHMA PART OF THE SHMONEH ESRAY-- the praise of
God begun in Shma becomes LINKED to the first 3 blessings of shmoneh esray
which praise Gods greatness.

If this is true the Rambam's position becomes clear. WE have a conflict
between (a) praying with the congregation which would CHANGE the status of
the person's prayer from an INDIVIDUAL prayer to a COMMUNAL prayer and (b)
saying Shma close to Prayer which would AUGMENT the praise phase of prayer
by adding Shma to the prayer. So the Rambam is clear. We prefer to do
something that CHANGES a status to something that merely adds to a status.
But I find the Rashbah's position difficult. In light of the above does
anyone have a defense of it (or some other defense of juxtaposing GEULA and

Russell Hendel; RJHendel@Juno.Com;
ModeratoR Rashi Is Simple; http://www.shamash.org/rashi.