SECTION 104 One may Not Make an Interruption during Shemoneh Esreh. (1-7)

סימן קד שֶׁלֹּא לְהַפְסִיק בַּתְּפִלָּה וּבוֹ ז' סְעִיפִים:

1 One may not interrupt his recitation of Shemoneh Esreh. Even if a Jewish king greets him, he should not respond.1 By contrast, one should interrupt his recitation [in order to respond to] a non-Jewish king,2 where there is cause to fear that he will kill him.3 Nevertheless, if he can abbreviate [his prayers] — i.e., reciting [merely] the beginning and conclusion of each blessing — before [the king] reaches him, he should, so that he will not have to make an interruption. Alternatively, if he can move away from the [king’s] path, he should do so, [rather than] make an interruption by speaking.4

Similarly, if one was reciting Shemoneh Esreh on the road and an animal or a wagon was approaching him, he should move out of the way and should not make an interruption by speaking. Under any other circumstances, however, he should not leave his place until he completes Shemoneh Esreh, unless he is reciting the supplications that follow it.5 Then it is permitted for him to depart from his place because of his kneeling and bowing6 (or because of another necessity).7 If, however, there is no necessity, he should not move from his place until he takes three steps backward, like one taking leave of a king.8

א לֹא יַפְסִיק בִּתְפִלָּתוֹ. וַאֲפִלּוּ מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל שׁוֹאֵל בִּשְׁלוֹמוֹ – לֹא יְשִׁיבֶנּוּ.א,1 אֲבָל מֶלֶךְ אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָםב,2 שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָחוּשׁ שֶׁמָּא יַהַרְגֶנּוּג – יַפְסִיק.3 וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, אִם אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לְקַצֵּר,ד דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁיֹּאמַר תְּחִלַּת כָּל בְּרָכָה וְסוֹפָהּ קֹדֶם שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ אֵלָיוה – יְקַצֵּר, שֶׁלֹּא יִצְטָרֵךְ לְהַפְסִיק. אוֹ אִם אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לְהַטּוֹת מִן הַדֶּרֶךְ – יִטֶּה, וְלֹא יַפְסִיק בְּדִבּוּר.ו,4

וְכֵן אִם הָיָה מִתְפַּלֵּל בַּדֶּרֶךְ וּבָאָה בְּהֵמָה אוֹ קָרוֹן כְּנֶגְדּוֹ – יִטֶּה מִן הַדֶּרֶךְ וְלֹא יַפְסִיק בְּדִבּוּר. אֲבָל בְּעִנְיָן אַחֵר – אֵין לוֹ לָצֵאת מִמְּקוֹמוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּגְמֹר תְּפִלָּתוֹ,ז אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הוּא בְּתַחֲנוּנִים שֶׁאַחַר הַתְּפִלָּה,ח,5 שֶׁאָז מֻתָּר לוֹ לַעֲקֹר מִמְּקוֹמוֹ עַל יְדֵי כְּרִיעוֹת וְהִשְׁתַּחֲוָיוֹתט,6 (אוֹ לְצֹרֶךְ אַחֵרי).7 אֲבָל שֶׁלֹּא לְצֹרֶךְ – לֹא יָזוּז מִמְּקוֹמוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּפְסַע ג' פְּסִיעוֹת לַאֲחוֹרָיויא כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁנִּפְטָרִים מִן הַמֶּלֶךְ:יב,8

2 Even if a snake is wound around one’s heel, one should not make an interruption [during Shemoneh Esreh] by speaking,9 telling another person to remove the snake. He may, however, move away so that the snake will fall off his leg, for in no context do we find that walking is considered an interruption while one is performing a mitzvah. It is only that while reciting Shemoneh Esreh — since one is standing in the presence of the King — he should not move from his place needlessly until its completion, when he takes leave of the King by taking three steps back, as explained above. However, when there is a necessity like this, it is permitted to move, even in the midst of the blessings of Shemoneh Esreh.

When does the above apply?10 With regard to a snake [of a species] that does not usually bite.11 If, however, [one is threatened by] a scorpion — and scorpions habitually sting and kill — one may interrupt his prayer even by speaking, for no consideration overrides a life-saving endeavor.12 Even with regard to a snake, if one sees that it is raging at him and is coming to harm him, he may make an interruption, even by speaking.13

ב וַאֲפִלּוּ נָחָשׁ כָּרוּךְ עַל עֲקֵבוֹ – לֹא יַפְסִיקיג בְּדִבּוּר9 לוֹמַר לְאַחֵר לְהָסִיר מֵעָלָיו הַנָּחָשׁ.יד אֲבָל יָכוֹל לֵילֵךְ לְמָקוֹם אַחֵר כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּפֹּל הַנָּחָשׁ מֵרַגְלוֹ,טו שֶׁלֹּא מָצִינוּ הֲלִיכָה שֶׁנִּקְרֵאת הַפְסָקָה בְּשׁוּם מָקוֹם בְּאֶמְצַע עֲשִׂיַּת הַמִּצְוָה,טז אֶלָּא שֶׁבַּתְּפִלָּה הוֹאִיל וְעוֹמֵד לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ – אֵין לָזוּז מִמְּקוֹמוֹ שֶׁלֹּא לְצֹרֶךְיז עַד לְאַחַר הַתְּפִלָּה שֶׁיִּפָּטֵר מִלִּפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ בְּג' פְּסִיעוֹת לַאֲחוֹרָיו כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר,יח אֲבָל לְצֹרֶךְ כָּזֶה מֻתָּר אֲפִלּוּ בְּאֶמְצַע בִּרְכוֹת י"ח.יט

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים?10 בְּנָחָשׁ שֶׁרֹב הַפַּעַם אֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׁךְ,כ,11 אֲבָל עַקְרָבכא שֶׁהוּא מוּעָד לַעֲקֹץ וּלְהָמִית – פּוֹסֵק אֲפִלּוּ בְּדִבּוּר,כב שֶׁאֵין לְךָ דָּבָר שֶׁעוֹמֵד בִּפְנֵי פִּקּוּחַ נֶפֶשׁ.כג,12 וַאֲפִלּוּ נָחָשׁ אִם רוֹאֶה שֶׁהוּא כָּעוּס כְּנֶגְדּוֹ וּבָא לְהַזִּיקוֹ – פּוֹסֵקכד אֲפִלּוּ בְּדִבּוּר:כה,13

3 If a person sees an ox approaching him, he should make an interruption,14 because one should distance himself 50 cubits from an ox that is not known to gore and [one should] move out of sight of an ox that is known to gore.15 If there is an accepted presumption16 that the oxen in a particular place are not harmful, one may not interrupt his recitation of Shemoneh Esreh] unless he sees an ox that caused harm once.

ג אִם רָאָה שׁוֹר בָּא כְּנֶגְדּוֹ – פּוֹסֵק,כו,14 שֶׁמַּרְחִיקִין מִשּׁוֹר תָּם חֲמִשִּׁים אַמָּה וּמִמּוּעָד כִּמְלֹא עֵינָיו.15 וְאִם שְׁוָרִים שֶׁבַּמָּקוֹם הַהוּא מֻחְזָקִים16 שֶׁאֵינָם מַזִּיקִין – אֵינוֹ פּוֹסֵק,כז אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן רָאָה שׁוֹר שֶׁהִזִּיק כְּבָר פַּעַם אַחַת:כח

4 Whenever one makes an interruption, if the lapse caused by the factor beyond his control was long enough to enable one to complete the entire Shemoneh Esreh from beginning to end, he must then go back to the beginning, as explained in sec. 65[:1]. The time is estimated according to [the pace of] the individual praying,17 as explained there.

When the delay was not as long as that, if he interrupted by speaking in the midst of one of the thirteen intermediate blessings, he should return to the beginning of the blessing that he interrupted. If, however, he made an interruption in the course of the first three blessings, he should return to the beginning [of the entire Shemoneh Esreh], for [in this context] they are considered as one blessing.18 If one made an interruption in the course of the final three blessings, he should return to the blessing beginning Retzeh, for [these three blessings] are also considered as a single unit. For [while reciting] the first three blessings, one is likened to a servant who sets forth the praises of his master, and [while reciting] the last three, he is likened to a servant who has received a reward from his master and now takes his leave and departs.19

When does the above apply? When the interruption by speaking was due to forces beyond one’s control20 or was inadvertent.21 If, however, one spoke willfully,22 he is required to return to the beginning [of Shemoneh Esreh] under all circumstances. (In the present era, when most people are not careful [to refrain] from speaking during the blessings of the Shema, they are considered to be transgressing inadvertently, for a person who [mistakenly] thinks [an act] is permitted is considered to be acting inadvertently.)23

[A similar requirement applies] even if one made an interruption by speaking — under compulsion or inadvertently — in the midst of one of the (intermediate) blessings and did not return to the beginning of the blessing, but instead, resumed and completed his recitation of Shemoneh Esreh from the point of interruption, and moved away [from where he was praying]. Even in such a case, he must go back to the beginning of Shemoneh Esreh, because the blessing in the midst of which he made an interruption by speaking is not counted. It is as if it had not been recited at all, for the eighteen24 blessings are all contingent upon each other. If one of them was omitted, and not remembered until after the worshiper had moved away [from where he was praying], he must return to the beginning [of Shemoneh Esreh], as stated in sec. 119[:4]. If, however, one did not know all of them, but only some, he should recite the ones that he does know, for they are not contingent upon each other [in this regard], as will be explained in sec. 593[:1].25)

By contrast, if one made an interruption [by speaking] between one blessing and another,26 he should conclude Shemoneh Esreh in its usual sequence, even as an initial preference. This applies even if he spoke willfully. (It does not apply [if he spoke] during the first three or the last three blessings, for each of these [brackets of three] is considered as a single unit in all respects).

(Some authorities maintain that even if one spoke willfully in the midst of a blessing, he can correct himself by returning to the beginning of that blessing directly after speaking. It is only that if after speaking he returned to the point at which he made the interruption and proceeded to complete his prayer), (or even if he [completed] only the blessing in the midst of which he spoke), even if he had not left the place in which he stood in prayer, [he must return to the beginning of She­moneh Esreh].27 If he had done so inadvertently,28 he would only have been required to return to the beginning of that blessing. In the present case, by contrast, because he acted willfully, he must return to the beginning of Shemoneh Esreh.

The same laws apply if one willfully omitted29 the praise of G‑d’s might in bringing rain in [the second blessing],30 or omitted the request [for rain] in the blessing [concerning material prosperity],31 or [failed to add Yaaleh veyavo] on Rosh Chodesh or Chol HaMoed in [the blessing concerning] the service [in the Beis HaMikdash].32

ד בְּכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁפּוֹסֵק, אִם שָׁהָה בְּהַפְסָקָתוֹ מֵחֲמַת אָנְסוֹכט כְּדֵי לִגְמֹר אֶת כָּל הַתְּפִלָּה מֵרֹאשָׁהּ לְסוֹפָהּ – חוֹזֵר לָרֹאשׁל כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן ס"ה,לא וּמְשַׁעֲרִין לְפִי הַמִּתְפַּלֵּללב,17 כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר שָׁם.לג

וְאִם לֹא שָׁהָה כָּל כָּךְלד – חוֹזֵר לִתְחִלַּת הַבְּרָכָה שֶׁפָּסַק בָּהּ,לה אִם פָּסַק בְּדִבּוּרלו בְּאֶמְצַע אֵיזוֹ בְּרָכָה מִי"ג בְּרָכוֹת אֶמְצָעִיּוֹת. אֲבָל אִם פָּסַק בְּג' רִאשׁוֹנוֹת – חוֹזֵר לָרֹאשׁ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן חֲשׁוּבוֹת כִּבְרָכָה אַחַת.לז,18 וְאִם בְּג' אַחֲרוֹנוֹת – חוֹזֵר לִ"רְצֵה", שֶׁהֵן חֲשׁוּבוֹת גַּם כֵּן כְּאַחַת, שֶׁג' רִאשׁוֹנוֹת הֵן כְּעֶבֶד שֶׁמְּסַדֵּר שֶׁבַח לִפְנֵי רַבּוֹ וְג' אַחֲרוֹנוֹת הֵן כְּעֶבֶד שֶׁקִּבֵּל פְּרָס מֵרַבּוֹ וְנוֹטֵל רְשׁוּת וְהוֹלֵךְ לוֹ.לח,19

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים? כְּשֶׁפָּסַק בְּדִבּוּר מֵחֲמַת אֹנֶס20 אוֹ בְּשׁוֹגֵג,21 אֲבָל אִם שָׂח בְּמֵזִיד22 – חוֹזֵר לָרֹאשׁ בְּכָל עִנְיָןלט (וְעַכְשָׁו שֶׁרֹב הָעוֹלָם אֵין נִזְהָרִין לְהָשִׂיחַ בְּבִרְכוֹת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע – חֲשׁוּבִים שׁוֹגְגִים, שֶׁאוֹמֵר מֻתָּר שׁוֹגֵג הוּאמ).23

וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם הִפְסִיק בְּדִבּוּר מֵחֲמַת אֹנֶס אוֹ בְּשׁוֹגֵג בְּאֶמְצַע אֵיזוֹ בְּרָכָה (מֵהָאֶמְצָעִיּוֹת) וְלֹא חָזַר לִתְחִלַּת הַבְּרָכָה אֶלָּא לַמָּקוֹם שֶׁפָּסַק וְגָמַר תְּפִלָּתוֹ וְעָקַר רַגְלָיומא – צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר לְרֹאשׁ הַתְּפִלָּה, לְפִי שֶׁאוֹתָהּ בְּרָכָה שֶׁהִפְסִיק בְּדִבּוּר בְּאֶמְצָעָהּ אֵינָהּ עוֹלָה לוֹ וּכְאִלּוּ לֹא אֲמָרָהּ כְּלָל, וְי"ח24 בְּרָכוֹת מְעַכְּבוֹת זוֹ אֶת זוֹ, לְעִנְיָן שֶׁאִם דִּלֵּג אַחַת מֵהֶן וְלֹא נִזְכַּר עַד שֶׁעָקַר רַגְלָיו – צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר לָרֹאשׁ כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קי"טמב (אֲבָל מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל כֻּלָּן אֶלָּא מִקְצָתָן – יֹאמַר אוֹתָן שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ, וְאֵינָן מְעַכְּבוֹת זוֹ אֶת זוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן תקצ"גמג[)].25

אֲבָל אִם הִפְסִיק בֵּין בְּרָכָה לִבְרָכָה26 – גּוֹמֵר תְּפִלָּתוֹ עַל הַסֵּדֶר אֲפִלּוּ לְכַתְּחִלָּה,מד וַאֲפִלּוּ שָׂח בְּמֵזִיד (חוּץ מִג' רִאשׁוֹנוֹת וְג' אַחֲרוֹנוֹת, שֶׁהֵן חֲשׁוּבוֹת כְּאַחַת לְכָל דָּבָר).

(וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםמה שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ שָׂח בְּמֵזִיד בְּאֶמְצַע בְּרָכָה יֵשׁ לוֹ תַּקָּנָה לַחֲזֹר לִתְחִלַּת אוֹתָהּ בְּרָכָה מִיָּד אַחַר הַשִּׂיחָה, אֶלָּא שֶׁאִם אַחַר הַשִּׂיחָה חָזַר לְמָקוֹם שֶׁפָּסַק וְגָמַר תְּפִלָּתוֹ), (אוֹ אֲפִלּוּ אוֹתָהּ בְּרָכָה שֶׁשָּׂח בָּהּ לְבַדָּהּמו), אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעֲדַיִן לֹא עָקַר רַגְלָיו,27 שֶׁאִם הָיָה שׁוֹגֵג28 הָיָה חוֹזֵר לִתְחִלַּת הַבְּרָכָה שֶׁשָּׂח בָּהּ, עַכְשָׁו שֶׁהוּא מֵזִיד – צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר לָרֹאשׁ.

וְכֵן הַדִּין אִם הֵזִיד וְלֹא הִזְכִּיר29 גְּבוּרוֹת גְּשָׁמִים בִּתְחִיַּת הַמֵּתִיםמז,30 אוֹ שְׁאֵלָה בְּ"בִרְכַּת הַשָּׁנִים"מח,31 אוֹ שֶׁל רֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁמט וְחֻלּוֹ שֶׁל מוֹעֵדנ בָּעֲבוֹדָה:33

Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch (Sichos In English)

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5 One may not interrupt the recitation of Shemoneh Esreh even to respond to Kaddish, Barchu, or Kedushah.33 Instead, he should remain silent and concentrate on what the sheliach tzibbur is saying. This will be considered as if he responded verbally, because in all [halachic] contexts, one who listens is considered as if he had spoken himself.34 Nevertheless, this is not considered as an interruption in Shemoneh Esreh, because he is not actually verbalizing anything.

When the sheliach tzibbur who is reciting Kaddish reaches the words yisbarech veyishtabach, [the individual congregant] should resume Shemoneh Esreh.

ה אֲפִלּוּ לַעֲנוֹת קַדִּישׁנא וּבָרְכוּ וּקְדֻשָּׁה – לֹא יַפְסִיק בִּתְפִלַּת י"ח,נב,34 אֶלָּא יִשְׁתֹּק וִיכַוֵּן לְמַה שֶׁאוֹמֵר הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּרנג וְיִהְיֶה כְּעוֹנֶה בְּפִיו, שֶׁשּׁוֹמֵעַ כְּעוֹנֶה בְּכָל מָקוֹם,נד, וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן אֵין בָּזֶה מִשּׁוּם הֶפְסֵק תְּפִלָּה, כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ מוֹצִיא בְּפִיו. וּכְשֶׁמַּגִּיעַ הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר בַּקַּדִּישׁ לְ"יִתְבָּרַךְ וְיִשְׁתַּבַּח" – חוֹזֵר הוּא לִתְפִלָּתוֹ:נה

6 If one was in the midst of Shemoneh Esreh and was called to receive an aliyah, he should not interrupt his recitation. [This ruling is accepted] even by the authorities who maintain that one should interrupt oneself and accept the aliyah in the midst of the recitation of the Shema, as explained in sec. 66[:6].

ו הָיָה עוֹמֵד בִּתְפִלָּה וּקְרָאוּהוּ לְסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה – אֵינוֹ פּוֹסֵק,נו אֲפִלּוּ לְהָאוֹמְרִים שֶׁבִּקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע פּוֹסֵק וְעוֹלֶה לְסֵפֶר תּוֹרָהנז כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן ס"ו:נח

7 After completing the eighteen blessings24 of Shemoneh Esreh, before reciting the passage beginning Elokai netzor, one may respond to Kedushah, Kaddish, and Barchu, as will be explained in sec. 122[:1].

ז אַחַר שֶׁסִּיֵּם שְׁמוֹנֶה עֶשְׂרֵה בְּרָכוֹת24 קֹדֶם "אֱלֹהַי נְצֹר" – יָכוֹל לַעֲנוֹת קְדֻשָּׁה וְקַדִּישׁ וּבָרְכוּנט כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קכ"ב:ס