As codified in Mishna B'rura 592 and elsewhere, we allow someone who has already fulfilled a mitzva to exempt another in the b'racha recited for it — though we try to avoid it where feasible. For example, someone who has read or heard the m'gila (Ester) already can recite the b'rachos over the m'gila for someone else about to hear the m'gila, though we prefer the latter recite them instead. The same is true [citation needed] for a b'racha which is a mitzva, such as kidush l'vana.

Suppose someone, call him R'uven, is unsure whether he's fulfilled his obligation, say of reading m'gila or saying kidush l'vana. Then common practice is that he not recite the b'rachos himself but listen to another who is surely still obligated and fulfill his obligation that way. Now suppose Shim'on is also unsure whether he's fulfilled his obligation (and his doubt is independent of R'uven's). Consider: There's uncertainty about R'uven's obligation to recite the b'racha, and there's uncertainty about Shim'on's; there's a double uncertainty (s'fek s'feka) whether both are not obligated to recite the b'racha, so we should be able to assume at least one is obligated. In that case, one of them should be able to recite the b'racha for the both of them, in accordance with the principle outlined in my first paragraph. (This, assuming there's no one around who is surely obligated and can say the b'racha for R'uven and Shim'on.)

I wonder whether there's anything wrong with that argument, and whether any pos'kim have used or rejected it.

  • I wonder why you are asking this during Sefirat HaOmer... – Double AA May 12 '14 at 13:12
  • @DoubleAA, the truth is, this is not so relevant to s'fira, because we hold any safek (not just a s'fek s'feka) whether you counted allows you to continue s'fira with a b'racha. (But CYLOR.) But, yes, s'fira brought this question to mind. – msh210 May 12 '14 at 14:36
  • Adderabba. We hold you need a s'fek s'feka as well, just the first safek is very easy to come by. Meaning if you have some other safek, it's very easy to find a friend to be your other safek. – Double AA May 12 '14 at 15:36
  • Quite right, @DoubleAA. – msh210 May 12 '14 at 15:53
  • Your initial assumptions are « R'uven, is unsure whether he's fulfilled his obligation » and « Shim'on is also unsure whether he's fulfilled his obligation » and then after your discussion you say « so we should be able to assume at least one is obligated ». IMHO the discussion does not change the initial assumptions. Both are unsure – neither is obligated! – Avrohom Yitzchok May 12 '14 at 16:44

Although in Hilchos Sefiras Ha'Omer we find that one makes a bracha based on a sfek sfaka (Mishne Berura 489:38), in general one may not rely on a sfek sfakah to make a bracha (Mishne Berura 215:20).

Rav S.Z. Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Pesach 11, note 24) explains that with Sefiras Ha'Omer nearly all Poskim agree that one makes a bracha even if he forgot to count one day (disagreeing with the opinion of B'Hag). Therefore, in that case we permit the recitation of a bracha with a sfek sfaika)

Whether someone who may have forgotten to count one day may be motzi another who always counted there is some disagreement among Poskim if, according to B'Hag) he is considered hayyav in the mitzva but technically can't count (Bais Halevi cited in Har Tzvi 2:25) and therefore can make the bracha for someone else, or is not hayyav in the mitzva since he missed a day (Kaf Hachaim 489:91) and can't be motzi another.

See Dirshu Mishne Berurah (ibid) for more details.

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