Question: After the shliach tzibbur says “Barchu,” should he then say “Baruch Hashem Hamevorach…” in unison with the congregation or wait for the congregation to say it and then repeat it?
Answer: My late colleague and friend, Jewish Press halacha columnist Rav Yaakov Simcha Cohen, zt”l, discussed this question. In his response, he noted that Rav Shimon Schwab (Rav Schwab On Prayer, pp. 252, 253) writes that “Baruch Hashem Hamevorach…” is a call to the congregation to join together to bless Hashem and a davar she’bekedusha that requires the presence of a minyan. Accordingly, the shliach tzibbur should say, “Baruch Hashem Hamevorach…” together with the congregation.
He adds that one should follow the same practice when one has an aliyah. Rav Schwab notes that whenever he was called to the Torah, he would say, “Baruch Hashem Hamevorach…” together with the congregation. Doing so was also the minhag of his kehillah, K’hal Adath Jeshurun in Washington Heights, N.Y.
The Mechaber, though, rules differently (Orach Chayim 57:1, 57:10, 139:7). He writes that the shliach tzibbur should say, “Baruch Hashem Hamevorach…” after the congregation so as to include himself as part of those blessing Hashem.
The logic behind this ruling is the same logic behind the ruling that a shliach tzibbur should say, “Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh” after the congregation does in Kedushah. The Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chayim 125:1-3, also Biur Halacha) writes that the shliach tzibbur should not do so, but in his Biur Halacha commentary (Orach Chayim 104:28) he cites an alternative view. He supports this alternative view by noting the following:
If a person in the middle of Shemoneh Esreh hears the shliach tzibbur start Kedushah, he is supposed to be silent and concentrate on the prayer of the shliach tzibbur. By doing so, he is considered to have recited Kedushah himself. Why? Because, contends the Mishnah Berurah, the prayers of a shliach tzibbur are like those of the congregation since he is supposed to include them in his prayers. Thus, a shliach tzibbur can say, “Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh” – as well as “Barechu” – by himself.
What is the halacha? What should a shliach tzibbur do?
It seems that the preferred practice is to say, “Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh” with the congregation since only this view is mentioned in the Mishnah Berurah itself. Rav Cohen also notes the following: “I once asked my father-in-law, HaGaon Harav Yaakov Nayman, zt”l, the last surviving protégé of the Brisker Rav, to relate the custom of the Rav. His response was that the shaliach tzibbur recited ‘Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh’ together with the congregation and not subsequent to the congregation.”
Yet, Rav Cohen concludes that “the general accepted custom is…to recite these phrases subsequent to the communal responses as noted in the Mechaber and explained in the Biur Halacha.” Indeed, we know that minhag mevatel halacha – an established practice overrides halacha (see Jerusalem Talmud, Yevamot 12:1, regarding chalitzah performed with a shoe rather than a sandal).