A Two Way Street?
‘Joining Geulah To Tefillah Is Preferable’
The halacha tells us to begin Shemoneh Esreh immediately after the berachah of ga’al yisrael, without interrupting to answer even Kaddish or Kedushah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 66:8,9).
An Early Maariv
The Steipler Gaon, Rav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievski, zt”l, writes that the Rishonim disagree as to whether one must adjoin Geulah (i.e., ga’al yisrael) to Tefillah (i.e., Shemoneh Esreh) for Tefillah’s sake or for the sake of Geulah (Kehilos Yaakov 2). Rabbeinu Yonah (2b s.v. “umi sheyirtzeh”) rules that if a person finds himself in a community where the minyan davens Maariv before nightfall, he should daven Shemoneh Esreh with the community without saying Kerias Shema or its berachos. He should say them instead on his own after tzeis hakochavim. At that time he should also preferably daven Shemoneh Esreh again.
Rav Ashi Repeated It At Home
Normally, a person who already davened Shemoneh Esreh may not say it again unless he has a particular request to add. But saying Shemoneh Esreh together with the berachos of Kerias Shema adds to the quality of the Tefillah, and therefore one may say it again, according to Rabbeinu Yonah. We thus see that Rabbeinu Yonah believes that adjoining Geulah to Tefillah is considered an enhancement of Tefillah.
From the Rosh we see the opposite – that adjoining Geulah to Tefillah is an enhancement of Shema and its berachos (but not necessarily Tefillah). Our Gemara states that Rav Ashi would lecture the entire morning, starting before dawn. He was thus unable to daven Shachris during its proper time. Nonetheless, when the time for Kerias Shema came, he would recite Shema with its berachos and daven Shemoneh Esreh sitting down while the meturgeman was explaining his lecture to the students. (If he stood, it would inconvenience all the talmidim to stand in his honor.) When he returned home after his lecture, he would daven Shemoneh Esreh again while standing since one who prays Shemoneh Esreh while seated does not fulfill his obligation (see Divrei Chamudos, os 70).
Why The First Prayer?
If Rav Ashi did not fulfill his obligation to daven Shemoneh Esreh while seated, why did he daven then? Why didn’t he just wait until he returned home?
One can suggest that he davened while seated in order to fulfill the injunction to adjoin Geulah to Tefillah, but if this injunction is in order to enhance Tefillah, Rav Ashi accomplished nothing since reciting Shemoneh Esreh while seated is improper (and does not even absolve one of one’s obligation to daven Shemoneh Esreh)!
Clearly then, Rav Ashi davened Shemoneh Esreh while seated to adjoin Geulah to Tefillah and thereby enhance the berachah of Geulah (not Tefillah). So although Rav Ashi did not fulfill his obligation to daven Shemoneh Esreh with this Tefillah, he was able to thereby enhance his berachah of Geulah.
It is worth noting that the Rosh does not necessarily argue with Rabbeinu Yonah’s presumption that Geulah enhances Tefillah. Perhaps both are true. The Rosh certainly maintains that Tefillah enhances Geulah, but perhaps he believes that Geulah enhances Tefillah as well.
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