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Barchu Later Than the Normal End of Tefilla

לעילוי נשמת
יואל אפרים בן אברהם עוזיאל זלצמן ז”ל

Question: One night, the person saying Kaddish at the end of Maariv forgot to say Barchu afterward (Barchu Batra), and the chazan started leading Tehillim (for the war). Could we have done Barchu Batra after the Tehillim and Mi Sheberach we say?

Answer: Barchu Batra—which most batei knesset in Israel recite at the end of Shacharit and Maariv (a minority of Ashkenazim do so abroad)—grew out of the concept of “poress al Shema” (paS), which is found already in a mishna (Megillah 24a). Barchu was instituted as an introduction to the brachot of Kriat Shema, which leads into Shemoneh Esrei (see Rivash 334). “PaS” allows those who missed this process to join the tzibbur and salvage what they can. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 69:1) presents—as the classic case—those who davened without a minyan; “paS” enables them to take part in Kaddish, Barchu and a repeat of the first bracha of Kriat Shema, which, in the morning, includes a Kedusha. In contrast, the Rama points out that the mode of “paS” practiced in his time/place did not include the first bracha of Kriat Shema. The Mishna Berura (69:1) cites important poskim who say that “paS,” even for just doing Barchu, is only for those who did not yet daven.

Barchu Batra is a few steps removed from the above: Barchu Batra is done at the end of tefilla, whereas “paS” is not necessarily done then (see Mishna Berura, introduction to siman 69). A more major difference is what needs the trigger of saying Barchu. Classic “paS” is when someone missed something, either by not hearing Barchu at all, or hearing it not before Birchot Kriat Shema (which he is now up to). In contrast, Barchu Batra is done even if no one is known to have missed it, because it is possible that such a person is present (Rama, Orach Chayim 131:1).

The origins of this minhag are not fully clear. Masechet Sofrim (10:6) speaks of saying Barchu right before or after Shemoneh Esrei because of concern for “those who come and those who leave.” The Rivash (Shut 334) sees this as a source for Barchu Batra, while pointing out that the Rambam and Tur do not cite it and that there is opposition to it on the grounds that Barchu needs to be an introduction to a bracha. (The likely answer is that the response of “Baruch Hashem Hamevorach …” itself can be that bracha.) There are indications that various Rishonim had differing texts and/or understandings of Masechet Sofrim. The Rivash does not like doing Barchu Batra when it is known that no one missed Barchu.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 133:1) is sensitive to the idea that one cannot say Barchu Batra anytime, but only when it fits the need. He rules that one does not say Barchu Batra after Shabbat morning davening because people are not expected to be late enough to justify it. This is either because they will not be up to Birchot Kriat Shema when Musaf is over (see Rivash) or because we expect that they heard Barchu in Kriat HaTorah. The difference between the approaches is the minhag of nusach Ashkenaz of Israel to omit it on Mondays/Thursdays because of Barchu in Kriat HaTorah. The Kaf Hachayim (Orach Chayim 133:1) explains the Sephardi minhag to do Barchu Batra at every Shacharit and Maariv based on Kabbalah—the second Barchu supplements spiritual elements not covered by the first one.

The exact timing of Barchu Batra is likely important. The Chazon Ish is cited as saying that since it is for latecomers, we should wait as long as possible (see application in Dirshu 133:1). However, it apparently must be connected to Shacharit or Maariv (see Siach Tefilla 16:5 in Rav Elyashiv’s name). When does tefilla end when shuls say Tehillim due to the war after davening? Does Tehillim extend the tefilla, like Shir Shel Yom or Pitum HaKetoret do? Or is it just a logical time to say Tehillim?

My guess is the latter, and, therefore, one can logically say that we should not further expand the chiddush of Barchu Batra when it has been delayed. We present two possible compromise ideas: 1. Do the standard Barchu Batra after the Tehillim only if someone missed Barchu; 2. Add a Kaddish after the Tehillim, and then say Barchu (there are strong indications that Barchu Batra is connected to Kaddish, including that one who said Kaddish does Barchu Batra).


Rabbi Mann is a dayan for Eretz Hemdah and a staff member of Yeshiva University’s Gruss Kollel in Israel. He is a senior member of the Eretz Hemdah responder staff, editor of Hemdat Yamim and the author of “Living the Halachic Process, Volumes 1 and 2” and “A Glimpse of Greatness.”

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