Halacha for Tuesday 11 Cheshvan 5778 October 31 2017

One who Arrives Late to the Synagogue for the Shacharit Prayer

Question: If one arrives late to the synagogue during the Shacharit prayer, should one omit the entire Pesukei De’Zimra (the portion of the prayer between Baruch She’amar and Yishtabach) and immediately begin with the Keri’at Shema blessings (“Yotzer Ohr”) in order to be able to recite the Amida prayer along with the rest of the congregation or should one pray according to the correct order of the prayer in any case?

Answer: When referring to the great benefit of one who prays along with the congregation, this primarily refers to the Amida prayer. Thus, if one arrives late to the synagogue, one must follow the correct procedure in order to be able to recite the Amida prayer along with the congregation.

Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 52, Section 1) rules as follows: “If one arrives at the synagogue and finds the congregation concluding the Pesukei De’Zimra, one should begin by reciting Baruch She’amar and then one should proceed to read the Psalms of ‘Tehilla Le’David’ (Ashrei), ‘Halelu et Hashem Min Ha’Shamayim’ (the third ‘Haleluya’), and ‘Halelu El Be’Kodsho’ (the fifth Haleluya) and finally end off by reciting Yishtabach. One should then begin to recite the Keri’at Shema blessings and Keri’at Shema and then finally, recite the Amida prayer along with the congregation. If one does not have ample time to recite all of this, one should omit the Psalm of ‘Halelu et Hashem Min Ha’Shamayim.’ If the congregation has already begun the ‘Yotzer Ohr’ blessing and one will not even have enough time to recite the abridged version of Pesukei De’Zimra, one may begin immediately with the ‘Yotzer Ohr’ blessing, recite Keri’at Shema and its blessings, and then recite the Amida prayer along with the congregation. After praying the Amida, one should recite the entire Pesukei De’Zimra besides for Baruch She’amar and Yishtabach which one should not recite.”

The Responsa Chacham Tzvi (authored by Hagaon Harav Tzvi Ashkenazi, head of the rabbinical court in Amsterdam approximately three-hundred years ago) writes that although it seems from the holy Zohar that one must pray according to the order set forth by the Sages of the Talmud and the Members of the Great Assembly who established the order of the prayer based on Ruach Ha’Kodesh (and indeed the saintly Ari z”l writes that there are deep secrets hidden in the order of the prayer), this only applies preferably. However, if one arrives late to the synagogue and by following the order of the prayer one will miss reciting the Amida prayer along with the congregation, all opinions agree that one should omit Pesukei De’Zimra in order to be able to pray along with the congregation. In fact, not only is the great importance of praying along with the congregation delineated by the Sages of the Talmud as well as well as the Rambam in that the congregation’s prayer is always accepted by Hashem, the Zohar also speaks lengthily about the great importance of praying with the congregation. Thus, even according to the opinion of the Zohar, it is preferable that one omit the Pesukei De’Zimra in order to be able to recite the Amida prayer along with the congregation.

Summary: If one arrives at the synagogue and finds the congregation towards the end of Pesukei De’Zimra, one begins by reciting Baruch She’amar and then proceeds to recite “Ashrei,” “Halelu et Hashem Min Ha’Shamayim,” and “Halelu El Be’Kodsho,” finally concluding with Yishtabach (without reciting “Vayvarech David” and “Az Yashir”). One should then begin the “Yotzer Ohr” blessing and catch up to the congregation. If the congregation is already close to Keri’at Shema and one will not have enough time to recite all of these Psalms, one should omit the Psalm of “Halelu et Hashem Min Ha’Shamayim.” If one does not have enough time to recite any of the Psalms, one should immediately begin with the “Yotzer Ohr” blessing and proceed to read Keri’at Shema and its blessings and then recite the Amida prayer with the congregation. When one is finished praying, one should recite the entire Pesukei De’Zimra, besides for Baruch She’amar and Yishtabach. If one wishes, one may recite them without mentioning Hashem’s name (see Responsa Yechave Da’at, Volume 5, Chapter 5).

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