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Birchos Hashachar - morning brachos (part VIII)
MBY 46:9 There are just two small points we need in order to finish this siman and topic:
1) Reciting pesukim as tefila before Birchos HaTorah. The one group of morning brachos we have not yet discussed much is the Birchos HaTorah (i.e. the three brachos we must recite before any Torah study is permitted.) This is the sole topic of the next siman (47). What is discussed here is whether or not one is permitted to recite ‘p’sukim’ (verses) – as part of a tefila (prayer) service – before reciting the Birchos HaTorah. For example, on the days leading up to Rosh Hashana, ‘Selichos’ (special supplications) are said before Shacharis, and they contain many, many p’sukim. Must one open up his siddur to page 16 and recite those Birchos HaTorah before opening up his selichos book or not? The conclusion of the Mishnah Berura is that yes, it is preferable to recite the Birchos HaTorah before saying any ‘p’sukim’, even when they are said in the manner of tefila, not Torah study. This ruling might affect the recitation of other ‘p’sukim’ as well, before Birchos HaTorah. (Ed: This does not preclude the recitation of any other tefilos before Birchos HaTorah, only those which contain ‘p’sukim’ from the Tanach – Scriptures.)

2) Reciting Shema at the beginning of davening. In part 3 of this series, we wrote: “The Mishnah Berura (note 7) cites the custom of reciting at least the first pasuk (verse) of the Shema right after the ‘birchos hashachar’.” The Rama at this point advises to add ‘Baruch Shem K’vod Malchuso l’olam va-ed’ (“Blessed be His Name…”) as well. Why? It’s like this: The reason that we say the Shema at the beginning of davening in the first place is primarily symbolic – (See footnote, pp. 28-9 in the Artscroll Siddur,for a fascinating history behind this practice!) However, sometimes it may have to “double” in fulfillment of the daily obligation to recite the Shema, such as when one started davening late in the morning, when the three hours which are allotted for the mitzvah are waning. Now, we know that we typically recite the Shema with all three of its paragraphs, but that is rabbinic. One fulfills the Biblical mitzvah by reciting merely the first pasuk (Shema), provided that he also says ‘Baruch Shem…’, in order to indicate that he intends to fulfill the mitzvah. If one realizes that he will definitely miss the ‘z’man’ (time) for Shema if he waits until he gets to the real one, he should ideally recite all three paragraphs of the Shema at this point, after the Birchos Hashachar. If he is not sure whether he will make it or not, then he may say just the first two pesukim, after the Birchos Hashachar (and preferably at least the next paragraph -‘v’ahavta’), and have in mind the following contingency: “If the regular recitation of the Krias Shema will occur within the allotted time, then my mitzvah will be fulfilled then. If not, I wish to fulfill it now.”

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