Prayer Essentials

For the week ending 4 March 2017 / 6 Adar II 5777

What to Do When Arriving Late - Part 2

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
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If one arrives late to the Synagogue and sees that the congregation has already begun “Yotzer” (the first of the blessings of the Shema), and there is no time to say even the shortest form of “Pesukei D’zimra” (i.e. “Baruch Sh’amar”, “Ashrei” and “Yishtabach”), he should recite Shema and its blessings, and say the Shemoneh Esrei with the congregation. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 52:1; Elia Rabba; Shulchan Aruch HaRav; Aruch HaShulchan; Yalkut Yosef)

The Aruch HaShulchan explains why one should skip Pesukei D’zimra entirely when there is no time. The reason is because the power of “tefillah betzibur” (praying with the congregation) is very great. The Shulchan Aruch HaRav adds that the reason we say Pesukei D’zimra at the beginning of the prayer service is in order to help our prayers gain acceptance.We are taught that one’s prayers will certainly be accepted when praying together with the congregation. Therefore, when there is no time, it is preferable to pray with the congregation than to say Pesukei D’zimra.

If there is not enough time to put on one’s tallit and teffilin even with skipping Pesukei D’zimra, one should pray without skipping, at his own pace. (Aruch HaShulchan; Halacha Berurah)

The Piskei Teshuvot writes in the name of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach that if one already fulfilled his Biblical obligation to recite Shema, he says only the blessings of Shema, while leaving out the Shema, in order to catch up and pray the Shemoneh Esrei together with the congregation.

In Teshuvot Mishkenot Yaakov, cited in the Mishneh Berurah (6), it is stated that the blessings of “Baruch Sh’amar” and “Yishtabach” date back to the times of the Tannaic (before the Common Era). As such, it is better to pray by oneself rather than leave out these two blessings. The Mishneh Berurah seems to agree with the ruling of the Mishkenot Yaakov that he should pray without omitting these. He adds that when the chazzan prays slowly it is best for one to at least say “Baruch Sh’amar”, “Ashrei”, and “Yishtabach”, while catching up to the congregation in time to pray Shemoneh Esrei with them. One doing so must remember to say Shema properly, since it is a Biblical mitzvah.

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