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Siman 104 . Concerning the prohibition against interrupting the Amidah [Silent Prayer]

104:1. (1) One must not interrupt (2) one's own Silent Prayer. Even if a Jewish king greets him he should not answer. However, (3) with a non-Jewish king, if it is possible to complete the prayer by shortening it before the king reaches him, one should do so, by saying the beginning and ending of each remaining blessing. (4) Or, if it is possible to move to the side of the road and thereby avoid having to interrupt one's prayer [even though this means he moves from his position, which is ordinarily not allowed during the Silent Prayer - LC], one should do so. In any case, one should avoid speaking during one's prayer [i.e., one should use a non-verbal greeting], (5) but if that is impossible one should interrupt by speaking.

MB 1: One must not interrupt - Even a non-verbal gesture is forbidden, except in the case of a crying child, where it is permissible to gesture to him with his hands so that the child will quiet down and not disturb one's prayer. If such gestures don't work, one should distance oneself from the child, and not speak to him. Similarly, if a prominent person [most commonly the congregational rabbi -LC] is in the middle of the Silent Prayer and the communal prayer leader is waiting for him to finish before proceeding with Kaddish or Kedusha, the prominent person may gesture to the communal prayer leader that he should proceed without waiting for him. [Shaarei Teshuvah, by Rabbi Chayim Mordechai Margolis, published early 19th Cent.]

MB 2: One's own Silent Prayer - Even in a case where monetary loss is involved one may not interrupt. The Chayei Adam writes [Sec 25, Par.9] that if one is in the middle of the Silent Prayer and has a doubt about how he should pray, e.g., if he forgot part of the prayer [and the question is whether he needs to go back and if so to what point --LC], one is permitted to move from one's place to a particular place where one can consult a book containing the appropriate laws. It is not clear whether one is permitted in such a case to ask a question about how one should proceed with one's prayer, but it seems to the Chayei Adam that it is permissible.

MB 3: With a non-Jewish king - This also applies if one is accosted by a potentially violent person and one is afraid that he will kill him. [Presumably fear of significant injury suffices. -LC]

MB 4: Or, if it is possible - It is preferable to shorten one's prayer if possible than to move to the side of the road [Bach and Elyah Raba (by Rabbi Eliyahu Shapira, 17th-18th Cents.)]. But the Pri Megadim writes that this issue requires further study, since the implication of the Shulchan Aruch is that moving for the purpose of one's prayer [in this case so that it not be interrupted] does not constitute an interruption.

MB 5: But if that is impossible one should interrupt by speaking - That is, it is permissible even to initiate the greeting if he perceives that otherwise he may be in danger. It is certainly permissible to return a greeting in this situation [Elyah Raba].

Lawton Cooper

***************************************************************** This issue Of Halacha Yomi has been very kindly sponsored by Jeff and Ann Levinson of Kingsbury, London, England on the occasion of the Aufruf [Calling to the Torah] before the wedding of their son, Mark, to Abi Gottlieb, may they both have a long, happy and healthy life together B"SD. *****************************************************************

Siman 104 - [The law] that one must not interrupt the Amidah [Silent Prayer] (cont'd)

104:2. If one was praying [the Amidah] in the road and an animal or wagon came towards him he should turn (6) off the road but without interrupting [his praying], but (7) in any other case (8) he should not move away from his place until he has finished his Amidah unless one is (9) in the supplications which are after the Amidah.

MB 6: Off the road - He means to say that even though there is a danger [requiring action to] prevent the animal or wagon from running him over, nevertheless since it is possible for him to guard against this by turning off the road, he is forbidden to interrupt with speech in order to tell someone else to hit the animal with a stick or to warn the wagon driver so that [neither] will run him over.

MB 7: In any other case - [But the case brought] in 90:27 [regarding a person who, in the middle of the Amidah, discovers a child's urine in front of him and may (in the manner set out in that Siman) move away from the urine] is different [to the type of case we are talking about here] as in that case [in Siman 90:27 any permitted moving away] is for the needs of the Amidah [because he cannot continue to pray without taking some action].

MB 8: He should not move away - One should castigate those Chazonim [Cantors] who on Yom Kippur move from their place when they reach "And we bend the knee" [from the first paragraph of the Aleinu prayer recited in the Musaf Amidah] and in the Order of the Priestly Service [the "Avodah" section of the Musaf Amidah] [(*)] as is brought in Siman 621:4 in the Rema; but rather they should place a suitable "Schtender" [stand or lectern] in front of him [the Chazan] between him and the Ark, and in the Avodah [section and also at "And we bend the knee"] they should remove the lectern [so that he has sufficient room to bow down] thereby obviating the need for him to move his feet.

[(*) At "And we bend the knee" and at the 3 places in the Avodah Service which begin "They would bend their knees and bow down" the Chazan and (in many places) the Congregation prostrate themselves onto the floor. If the Chazan is standing in front of a fixed lectern or desk, then in order to bow down completely he has to move back from the lectern to give himself room. The Mishnah Berurah is saying that it is the lectern that should be moved, and not the Chazan's feet. --SP]

MB 9: In the supplications - Because then it is permitted if the movement away is at least in some small way for the purpose of a Mitzvah; for instance our custom that the Leader [Shali'ach Tzibur] immediately after concluding the repetition of the Amidah [and without stepping back 3 paces] moves away and sits down [to say] Tachanun [the supplicatory prayers said on most weekdays at Shacharis and Minchah just after the Amidah] in those places that have the custom to say Tachanun sitting down. Similarly, he may ascend the Bimah for the reading of the Torah even though he has not yet said the Kaddish with "Tiskabal" [the full Kaddish recited at the end of each service] in which one steps back 3 paces [at "Oseh Shalom Bimeromav"] [(**)]. Or, for instance, what is said in the Gemarah about Rabbi Akivah that someone could leave him in one corner [to say the Amidah] and come back and find him in another corner - [his having moved] because of the many knee bendings and bowings which were in the supplications which come after the Amidah [ie. He would not have moved during the Amidah proper, so it must have been in the supplications immediately following it --SP]. But for any other purpose it is forbidden for a person to move until he has stepped back 3 paces (Magen Avrohom).

The Iturei Torah writes that after one has finished the Amidah but has not yet said "Oseh Shalom" there is no prohibition if he moves away for something that is in a small way a Mitzvah: for instance they have honored him with the opening of the Ark at the recitation of Avinu Malkenu [during the 10 days of Penitence or on a public fast] as everyone considers this to be a bit of a Mitzvah. Nevertheless, it seems that he should first say the verse "YiHeyu LeRozton etc.".

[(**) Two requirements must be satisfied before one may pray anything else after the Amidah. The first is that one must say the verse "YiHeyu LeRotzon Imrei Phi, etc" ("May the words of my mouth be acceptable etc.") immediately after the last Blessing of "HaMevorech Es Amo Yisroel Basholom". The second is that one must step back 3 paces at "Oseh Shalom". Both of these requirements are (at least as far as the Shali'ach Tzibur is concerned) satisfied by the subsequent saying of the full Kaddish Tiskabal. This contains the verse "Tiskabal Ztelos'hon etc." ("May our prayers be accepted, etc.") which has much the same meaning as "YiHeyu LeRotzon" and also the 3 steps back at "Oseh Shalom". --SP]

104:3. Even if a snake is wrapped around his heel (10) he should not interrupt [his Amidah] {but he may move to another place in order that the snake should fall off his foot} (The Ri at the beginning of chapter five of Tractate Brachos, entitled "Ein Omdin"), but [if it is] a scorpion then he may interrupt as it is more liable to cause harm; and one may also interrupt for a snake if he sees that it is angry (11) and getting ready to bite.

MB 10: He should not interrupt - He means to say [that he should not interrupt] with speech, for instance telling someone else to get [the snake] off [his foot]. Similarly with this whole paragraph [of Shulchan Aruch] and the next one where [the Shulchan Aruch] mentions interrupting [the Amidah], he is talking in every case about interrupting with speech, but [interrupting] by moving is permitted, as moving [literally "walking"] is not considered as an interruption. This is true only here, where one needs to get rid of the snake, even though normally it would not be a danger [to have a snake wrapped around his foot, it is still not considered an interruption to move away]. Moving unnecessarily, however, is considered something of an interruption as the Author [of the Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Yosef Karo] decides in paragraph 2 [above].

MB 11: And getting ready to bite - Even if it is not actually wrapped around his heel but he sees it coming towards him, he may interrupt. If he is able to avoid [the snake] by getting out of the way before it reaches him, then he should do so and not interrupt by speaking, as mentioned in paragraph 1.

104:4. If one saw an ox [in Hebrew "Shor"] coming towards him then he should interrupt by moving away, in the case of a "Shor Tam" [literally "a simple ox"] (ie. an ox that doesn't usually cause any damage), a distance of 50 cubits [about 75 feet/24 metres], and in the case of a "Shor Mu'od" [literally "an ox liable to cause damage" based on its previous behaviour] (ie. it usually causes harm) completely out of sight. (12) If the local oxen have a presumption ["Chazakah"] that they do not injure, then one may not interrupt [one's Amidah].

MB 12: If the oxen - Concerning a castrated ox, one may not interrupt even if one does not know its tendencies. This is only if this animal has never caused damage before, but if it has caused damage, even only once, then one may interrupt, even in places where other oxen do not normally cause damage [The Later Rabbis].

Stephen Phillips


Siman 104. [The Law] that one must not interrupt the Amidah (cont'd)

104:5. Anywhere where one stopped [praying the Amidah], (13) if [he did so] by pausing for the time it would take to complete (14) the whole of it, then (15) he should repeat it (16) from the beginning, (17) but if not then (18) he should go back to the beginning of (19) the Blessing in which he stopped. If he stopped [or interrupted] (20) in the first three Blessings [ie. from the beginning through the Blessing "Ho'Kel HaKodosh"] then (21) he should repeat [the Amidah] from the beginning, and if [he stopped or interrupted] in the last [three Blessings, ie. from "Retzei" through "HaMevorech Es Amo Yisroel BaSholom"] then he should go back to "Retzei".

MB 13: If [he did so] by pausing - Even if only by being silent without talking, and even if only between one Blessing and another.

MB 14: The whole of it - Even if he is at the end of the Amidah, we measure [for the purpose of deciding whether his pause is considered as an interruption, the time it would take to pray] from the beginning of the Amidah until the end.

MB 15: He should repeat, etc. - If he did not go back to the beginning, but only to the place where he stopped and completed it [from there] he must go back to the beginning and pray the whole Amidah (P'ri Chadash). This only applies to completely unavoidable circumstances ["Oneis"] [causing him to interrupt] but where he is forced [to interrupt] by robbers and such as is mentioned above [see Siman 64 and 65] then after the fact this is sufficient, because perhaps the Law is like the opinion of those who are lenient as mentioned above, who say that this is not considered an unavoidable circumstance ["Oneis" - requiring repetition from the beginning] (Magein Giborim).

MB 16: From the beginning - Thus according to our custom, which is in accordance with the decision of the Rema in Siman 65 above regarding the reading of the Shema, like the opinion of the Rabbis who say that we do not repeat from the beginning except where the pause was because of some unavoidable circumstance ["Oneis"], so the same law also applies to the Amidah. But there are those who say that our case [in the Shulchan Aruch in paragraphs 3 and 4] which talks about a scorpion or ox that comes towards him, or robbers and such, is also considered an interruption because of "Oneis", because at that moment he was unable to pray the Amidah - and [therefore] it is considered an interruption and he should repeat [the Amidah] from the beginning. But some say that this is not an unavoidable circumstance unless the interruption is because the person himself was unfit to pray the Amidah or the place [where he was praying] was unfit [to pray in], which is not the case with other cases of unavoidable circumstances. And the Magen Avrohom and many other later Rabbis decided that with regard to the Amidah other types of unavoidable circumstance are considered as "Oneis" [requiring him to repeat the whole of the Amidah] since there are among the earlier Rabbis [Rishonim] those who say that with the Amidah if one paused for the time it would take to say all of it, even without any unavoidable circumstances at all [causing him to pause] he should still repeat from the beginning; however regarding the reading of the Shema and other matters [of prayer], it is only considered to be an unavoidable circumstance ["Oneis" requiring him to repeat] if the person or the place were unfit.

MB 17: If not - He means to say that he did not pause in silence for the time it would take to say all of it, but nevertheless he did pause for quite a bit of time, because if he only paused for the time it would take to finish that Blessing [which he is currently saying] then according to all opinions he need only go back to that place [where he paused] (P'ri Megadim); and see in the Biur Halacha what we have written in the name of the Derech HaChayim.

MB 18: He should go back to the beginning of - Because he [Rabbi Yosef Karo] holds that the Amidah is stricter than the reading of the Shema in this area, and therefore in the reading of the Shema or its Blessings it is sufficient, if one interrupts, to go back to the place where he interrupted. But here [regarding the Amidah] we require [that he return to] the beginning of the [current] Blessing, because as a result of the lengthy pause the Blessing has been spoiled [referring to one's concentration --YM]. This is only if the pause was in the middle of the Blessing, but [if it was] between one Blessing and another then after the fact we are not concerned as long as he did not pause for the time it would take to say all of [the Amidah]; and see in the Biur Halacha.

MB 19: The Blessing - See in the Chayei Adam who writes that after the fact if he did not go back to the beginning of the Blessing [but carried on from where he interrupted --SP], since he has completed the Blessing he is not permitted to go back [to the beginning of the Blessing]; and in the Magen Giborim he disagrees completely with the law [brought here by ]the Shulchan Aruch and he writes that the principal law is that if one did not pause for the time it would take to say all of it, then it is not considered as an interruption and he only goes back to the place where he interrupted. And that which the Tosefos wrote [in their commentary on Tractate B'rochos] that one does go back to the beginning of the Blessing, that is talking about a case where he paused for the time it would take to say all of it, and the Tosefos are of the opinion that this unavoidable circumstance [Oneis] is not considered as "Oneis" even for the Amidah. In the Biur HaGr'a, the writer agrees with the line of thought of the Rashba which is brought in the Beis Yosef (see there) and it may be inferred from it that in all cases one only goes back to the place where one interrupted, unless he paused for the time it would take to say all of it because of some unavoidable circumstance [Oneis], in which case he should go back to the beginning of the Amidah.

MB 20: In the first three Blessings - Because all these [3 Blessings] are considered like one Blessing; therefore even if he didn't pause, he should still go back to the beginning of the Amidah or to "Retzei" [as the case may be], and according to what I wrote [in MB 19] in the name of the Gr'a and the Magen Giborim, the same law would apply here that he need only go back to that place where he interrupted.

MB 21: He should repeat from the beginning - The Chayei Adam writes that this is only where he has already completed the Blessing, but if he interrupts in the middle of a Blessing, he need only go back to the beginning of that Blessing, because anything in the middle [of a Blessing] is not considered as repetition but as correction of [mistakes in] the language.

104:6. When we say "If he pauses for the time it would take to read all of it" we measure [that time] (22) according to the reader [ie. according to how long _that_ person would take]. (23) If he spoke (24) during the Amidah, the law applicable to him concerning [any requirement for a repetition] is (25) like the law of interruptions mentioned in this Siman.

MB 22: According to the reader - He uses the word "reader" [as opposed to (for example) "the one who is praying"] because this law is taken from the laws of "reading" the Shema where the law is the same, as is written above in Siman 65:1 in the Rema.

MB 23: If he spoke - And the same law applies if he mentioned any of the special prayers of other days, for example [he said] those of Shabbat or Yom Tov on a weekday and such like, it is deemed to be as if he spoke (Later Rabbis) and it will be explained [in more detail] later it the end of Siman 108 in the Mishnah Berurah, see there.

MB 24: In the Amidah - If he spoke in the Shema or its Blessings, see above in Siman 65:1 in the Mishnah Berurah.

MB 25: Like the law of interruptions - He means to say that if he spoke in the middle of a Blessing just a little, and even if he did not as a result of this pause for the time it would take to complete that Blessing, he should still go back to the beginning of that Blessing; and if he paused through speaking for the time it would take to say the whole of the Amidah from start to finish, then he should go back to the beginning of the Amidah. According to what we explained above in MB 16, this law would only be where he spoke as a result of some unavoidable circumstance, like through robbers and such like as mentioned above, [and therefore his interruption is by way of an "Oneis" requiring him to repeat the whole of the Amidah]. But if he spoke, not through some unavoidable circumstance but just unintentionally through some mistake or he he thought that it was permitted, then even if he paused for the time it would take to say all of it, he does not go back to the beginning [of the Amidah], but only to the start of that Blessing.

If he spoke between one Blessing and another, even though he has done something forbidden nevertheless according to all opinions no correction can be appropriate here [ie. he has completed the previous Blessing and has not started the next, so what wording has he spoiled? --SP], but [what he should do is] immediately after speaking he should finish the rest of his Amidah. But if he spoke deliberately, [knowing it was forbidden], the matter requires great investigation as to what the law is; some say that he should immediately go back to the beginning of the Amidah, even if he spoke only a bit, but some say that there is no difference [in law] whether [he spoke] unintentionally or deliberately.

104:7. One should not interrupt [the Amidah] neither [26) for Kaddish nor for Kedushah, but rather (27) he should keep silent and concentrate on what the Leader [Shaliach Tzibur] is saying (28) and it will be as if he had answered [to Kaddish or Kedushah]. {If he was standing [and saying] the Amidah and they called him up to the reading of the Torah, (29) he should not interrupt} (Terumas HaDeshen Siman 128).

MB 26: For Kaddish - He means to say [interrupting to say] "Amen, Yehei Shemei Rabbo..." and the same also applies to [answering to] "Borechu".

MB 27: He should keep silent - Until "Yisborach" [the word beginning the paragraph of the Kaddish immediately after "YeHei Shemei Rabbo, etc.].

MB 28: And it will be as if he had answered - for the purpose of fulfilling the obligation of Kaddish and Kedushah, and nevertheless it is not considered as an interruption.

MB 29: He should not interrupt - If he did interrupt for this [being called to the Torah] and also [if he interrupted] for Kaddish or Kedushah, then he is considered like one who deliberately spoke [during the Amidah], and according to the opinion of those Rabbis that in that case [of deliberately speaking] he should go back to the beginning [of the Amidah], so also here he should go back to the beginning. But if he believes that it is permitted to interrupt [for Kaddish, etc] then he is like one [who speaks] unintentionally and he need not go back to the beginning, as mentioned above [in MB25]. But if they called him to the reading of the Torah and he was standing at the point just after the Amidah, even if he had not yet started "Elokai Netzor", he should interrupt and go up [to the reading of the Torah], but he should be careful first to say "Yiheyu LeRotzon Imrei Phi VeHegyon Libi LeFonecho Hashem Tzuri VeGo'ali" beforehand.

Stephen Phillips


Siman 104. That one may not Interrupt during Prayer (cont.)

104:8. (30) After one finishes the Eighteen Blessings, before saying the additional prayer "Elokai Netzor" (My G-d, Guard...), one is permitted to respond to Kedusha, Kaddish, and Barchu (and see later in Siman 122).

MB 30: After one finishes - Meaning when one has also said "Yihyu L'Ratzon..." (May it be favored...) before "Elokai Netzor," for if not it is forbidden to interrupt, as we will see in Siman 122 - and this is what the Rema is hinting in what he wrote, and see later in Siman 122.



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