A Two-Way Street?
‘Joining Geulah To Tefillah Is Preferable’
We’re supposed to begin Shemoneh Esreh immediately after the berachah of ga’al Yisrael without interrupting even to answer Kaddish or Kedushah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 66:8, 9).
An Early Maariv
The Steipler Gaon, Rav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, zt”l, writes that Rishonim disagree over whether adjoining geulah (i.e., ga’al Yisrael) to tefillah (i.e., Shemoneh Esreh) is for the sake of tefillah or the sake of geulah (Kehilos Yaakov 2).
Rabbeinu Yonah (2b s.v. “umi sheyirtzeh”) rules that if a person finds himself in a community that davens Maariv before nightfall, he should daven Shemoneh Esreh with the community without saying Kerias Shema or its berachos. He should say them on his own after tzeis hakochavim, preferably with Shemoneh Esreh.
Normally, a person who already davened Shemoneh Esreh may not say it again unless he has a particular request he wishes to add. But saying Shemoneh Esreh together with the berachos of Kerias Shema adds to the tefillah’s quality 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.
A Timely Shema
From the Rosh we see the opposite – that it’s an enhancement of Shema and its berachos (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 explained his lecture to the students. (If he stood, the students would be inconvenienced as they would have 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 seated does not fulfill his obligation (see Divrei Chamudos, os 70). Why, then, did he daven Shemoneh Esreh seated? Why didn’t he just wait until he returned home to say it?
One can suggest that he didn’t wait because he wanted to fulfill the injunction of adjoining geulah to tefillah. Clearly, though, connecting the two in this case did not enhance tefillah. Indeed, Rav Ashi didn’t even fulfill his obligation of tefillah at this time! Rather, it enhances the berachah of geulah.
It’s 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 also believes geulah enhances tefillah.