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I have noticed in many shuls (mainly Nusach Ashkenaz, though, I have seen in Nusach Sefard, as well) I have attended that some people conclude the end of the 2nd bracha before the Shema (Shacharit - ends with הבוחר בעמו ישראל באהבה ; Ma'ariv ends with אוהב עמו ישראל ) together with the Shat"z.

I guess this is a minhag? What is the origin / reason for doing this as opposed to concluding the bracha before the chazzan? Is there a problem with pausing between the end of the bracha and the beginning of Shema?

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Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 59:4):

וְלֹא יַעֲנֶה אָמֵן אַחַר סִיּוּם הַבּוֹחֵר בְּעַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאַהֲבָה, מִשּׁוּם דְּהָוֵי הֶפְסֵק

One should not answer amen after the conclusion of '...הַבּוֹחֵר' because it is an interruption.

The Rema (61:3) disagrees:

רַק יֹאמַר אָמֵן אַחַר הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר כְּשֶׁמְּסַיֵּם הַבְּרָכָה, וְכֵן נוֹהֲגִין, וְנָכוֹן הוּא

The Mishna Brurah (59 s.k. 24 and 25) explains that they are disagreeing about the nature of the bracha. The S.A. sees it as any other blessing that one makes on a mitzvah etc., so there cannot be a hefsek between this blessing and its subject, the Shema. The Rema sees it as different from all other blessings on mitzvos, as evidenced by the lack of structure standard to such blessings. M.B. goes on to say that the general consensus of the achronim is in accordance with the Rema, but that there are those who nevertheless advise to finish with the shliach tzibbur, thereby eliminating the possible hefsek of an amen (one does not answer amen to a blessing he concludes together with the shliach tzibbur - see M.B. 51 s.k. 3 - otherwise one is generally obligated to answer amen to blessings - see S.A. 215:2).

  • Note there's no point in not saying Amen when praying outside the time for Shema (and in fact since you can say Amen it's better to do so). Also one shouldn't drown out the Chazzan if saying along with him (but say it along in an undertone), since some people may be fulfilling their obligation with him. These are common mistakes for people to make when they take on this "chumra" without knowing enough about it. – Double AA Jul 6 '17 at 15:41
  • It's not clear the Shulchan Arukh is even talking about BeTzibbur. He may be saying not to say Amen after your own blessing, but after the Chazzan he agrees you can. See two answers in the Beit Yosef (and his note about the popular custom!) and the Beiur Halakha too. Indeed R Yonah's source is the Rambam who's pretty clearly talking about Amen after your own blessing. – Double AA Jul 6 '17 at 15:42
  • While I didn't ask in OP, do any of these sources mention WHY one is not allowed to pause between the bracha and the start of Shema? – DanF Jul 6 '17 at 15:50
  • @DanF No one said one isn't allowed to pause then... – Double AA Jul 6 '17 at 15:51
  • @DanF It creates a possible obligation to answer amen, depending if you're going with S.A. or Rema. – Jay Jul 6 '17 at 15:54

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