Question: When performing a mitzvah, what is more important: doing it right away – “zerizim” – or doing it with a large crowd – “berov am”?
Answer: In Part I, based on Berachot 53a, we stated that “berov am” is more important. As such, on Friday night, the halacha should be that one person makes Kiddush for all present rather than everyone recite Kiddush for himself.
Interestingly, though, the Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Orach Chayim 213:6) writes that a person may recite Kiddush for himself. Although generally “berov am” is of supreme importance, Kiddush is an exception because listening to someone else’s Kiddush is like fulfilling a mitzvah through a shliach. And since Friday night Kiddush is a mitzvah min haTorah, one cannot compel a person to perform it through a shliach if he wishes to perform it himself.
And yet, perhaps even the Shulchan Aruch HaRav would agree that listening to Kiddush is better as long as one makes sure to say amen afterwards. I offer this suggestion based on the following:
The Rambam (Hilchot Berachot 1:11) rules that one may fulfill one’s obligation to recite a berachah by listening to someone else say it – even if one does not respond amen (as long as he intended to be included in the berachah). Moreover, he adds, whoever responds amen after a berachah is considered to have recited it himself.
The Kesef Mishnah was troubled by this halacha. If one can fulfill one’s obligation even without saying amen, why bother every saying amen? The Kesef Mishnah answers that if one says amen, he is considered to have said the berachah himself; if he doesn’t say amen, he is not. Instead, he has fulfilled his obligation via a shliach.
Therefore, perhaps even the Shulchan Aruch HaRav would agree that it is better to listen to Kiddush and fulfill “berov am” as long as one makes sure to say amen afterwards.
About the Author: Rabbi Cohen, a Jerusalem Prize recipient, is the author of eight sefarim on Jewish law. His latest, “Jewish Prayer the Right Way” (Urim Publications), is available at Amazon.com and select Judaica stores.
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