Multiple Recitations of the Same Liturgy

Prepared by Rabbi Aaron Alexander.

Please note that this is not an official responsum of the CJLS.

Question: In light of the fact that some synagogues may offer multiple small services over the course of the High Holidays, but oftentimes with the same leaders and shofar sounders leading back-to-back services, what is the status of somebody who had already fulfilled their obligation? May they then discharge others from their obligation through shome’a k’oneh—hearing is like reciting?

Answer: The short answer is… yes, absolutely. According to halakhah someone who has already fulfilled their obligations for a particular obligated ritual may then do so again on somebody else's behalf.

The general application is found in b. Rosh Hashanah 29a:

תני אהבה בריה דר' זירא כל הברכות כולן אע"פ שיצא מוציא חוץ מברכת הלחם וברכת היין שאם לא יצא מוציא ואם יצא אינו מוציא.

Ahava, son of Rabbi Zeira, taught: all the blessings, even if one [already recited a blessing and] fulfilled, s/he can still discharge others. [This is true] except for the blessing recited over bread and the blessing recited over wine. For these, if they have not yet fulfilled their own obligation, they can discharge, but if they already fulfilled, they cannot discharge another

The core principle defining this assertion, as Rashi points out on the page, is kol yisra'el aravim zeh et zeh ba-mitzvot (All Jews (serve as) guarantors for one another one to the other in commandments). The following passage from the Magen Avraham (O.H. 167:40) explains this concept, commenting on the difference between blessings of pleasure and other commanded blessings (the core distinction in the above talmudic passage): 

מי שאינו אוכל - וה"ה בכל ברכת הנהנין, דדוקא בברכת המצות שכל ישראל ערבין זה בזה וכשחבירו לא יצא כאלו הוא לא יצא, לכן יכול לברך. עסי' תקפ"ה ס"ב משא"כ בברכת הנהנין דלא ליתנהו ולא לברך.

The one who isn’t eating -  And this is the ruling for all blessings of pleasure (that the person experiencing them must bless).  For it is specifically with blessings over [other] commandments that every Jew serves as a guarantor for one another, and when one's fellow is still obligated, it is as if s/he is also obligated - so [even if he has already discharged his obligation, and is no longer obligated] she may still make a blessing [for another]. See O.H. 585.2, as this is not the case for blessings of pleasure - since one doesn't receive the benefit, he may not recite the blessing  [his blessing cannot count for his companions].

This is also reiterated in the Encyclopedia Talmudit (Berakhot, Section 9--Rabbis Meyer Berlin and Shlomo Zevin):

...אבל אם הוא מחוייב בדבר אלא שכבר בירך ויצא ידי חובתו, יש הבדל בין ברכת המצות לברכות הנהנין, וכך אמרו: כל הברכות כולן אף על פי שיצא מוציא, חוץ מברכת הלחם וברכת היין - ושאר ברכות פירות וריח - שאם לא יצא מוציא ואם יצא אינו מוציא. טעם ההבדל שביניהן הוא, שהמצות, שהן חובה, כל ישראל ערבים זה בזה, והרי המברך כאילו הוא מחוייב בדבר, אבל ברכות הנהנין אף על פי שחובה על הנהנה לברך, אבל אין עליו חובה ליהנות כדי לברך, ולכן אין עליו ערבות בברכה זו והוא פטור ממנה, ואינו יכול להוציא את חברו שנהנה ומחוייב בה...

...But the one who is (inherently) obligated in a particular matter but already blessed and fulfilled her obligation, there's a distinction to be made between mitzvah blessings and enjoyment blessings. Thus the rabbis taught (Rosh Hashanah 29a): all the blessings, even if one [already recited a blessing and] fulfilled, s/he can still discharge others. Except for the blessing recited over bread and the blessing recited over wine--and all other blessings over produce and spices/scents. For these if they have not yet fulfilled their own obligation, they can discharge; but if they already fulfilled [their own obligation],  they cannot discharge another. The reason behind this distinction is this: That for the commandments, which are obligated, each and every Jew is responsible for the other, and therefore for the one blessing it's as if she is [still] obligated. This is not so for the blessings of enjoyment, for which even though a blessing is required for the one who benefits, the act itself is not one that must be done, therefore a person is not [inherently] obligated such that a blessing is necessitated. As such, [the principle of] “bound up” does not apply as this person is [technically] exempt--therefore unable to fulfill this [enjoyment] blessing on behalf of others.

In other words, although in general one needs to have an equal level of obligation to discharge others from their obligations, the applied principle of "kol yisra'el aravim zeh et zeh ba-mitzvot” distinguishes between one's inherent obligation to a particular mitzvah, which is lasting even after that obligation is fulfilled, to the various levels of obligation that one has with regard to voluntary acts, such as eating particular foods.

Therefore, practically, one who has already davenned any part of the service, read Torah/Haftarah, chanted Kol Nidrei (which isn't technically an obligation in any case), or the like, may do so multiple times on behalf of others.

This is also the case for the one sounding shofar. It may be sounded multiple times by one (inherently obligated) person on behalf of others.

In the Shulhan Arukh (O.H. 585:2) we find:

קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּתְקַע יְבָרֵךְ: לִשְׁמֹעַ קוֹל שׁוֹפָר, וִיבָרֵךְ: שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ; הַגָּה: וְאֵין חִלּוּק בֵּין אִם יְבָרֵךְ לְעַצְמוֹ, אוֹ שֶׁכְּבָר יָצָא וּמְבָרֵךְ לְהוֹצִיא אֲחֵרִים, אֲפִלּוּ הָכֵי מְבָרֵךְ הַתּוֹקֵעַ שְׁתֵּי בְּרָכוֹת הַנִּזְכָּרוֹת (בֵּית יוֹסֵף וּתְרוּמַת הַדֶּשֶׁן); וְיִתְקַע תַּשְׁרַ''ת ג' פְּעָמִים, וְתַשַׁ''ת ג' פְּעָמִים, וְתַרַ''ת ג' פְּעָמִים; הַגָּה: וְטוֹב לִתְקֹעַ בְּצַד יָמִין, אִם אֶפְשָׁר לִתְקֹעַ בְּכָךְ (מִנְהָגִים), וְכֵן יַהֲפֹךְ הַשּׁוֹפָר לְמַעְלָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: עָלָה אֱלֹהִים בִּתְרוּעָה (תְּהִלִּים מז, ו') (רוֹקֵחַ וּמַהֲרִי''ל).

Before one blows [the shofar], one makes the blessing "to hear the sound of the shofar" and makes the blessing "sheheheyanu." ReMA: And there is no distinction between blessing for oneself or if one has already fulfilled [the obligation of blessing] and blesses to fulfill the obligation of others. Either way, the one blowing makes the two aforementioned blessings (based on Beit Yosef and Trumat HaDeshen). And one blows Teki’ah Shevarim Teru’ah Teki’ah three times; and Teki’ah Shevarim Teki’ah three times; and Teki’ah Teruah Teki’ah three times. ReMA: And it's best to blow on the left side if possible to blow this way (Sefer Minhagim). And also to direct the shofar upwards as it is said "Raise up God with the shofar" (Rokeah and Maharil).

The Terumat HaDeshen (#140) raises this question in a situation that may mirror what many of will face this year:

אלה: חולה שאינו יכול לבא לבהכ"נ בר"ה, וחבירו תוקע לו לאחר שכבר יצא עם ש"צ בבהכ"נ, מי יברך לשמוע קול שופר החולה או התוקע בעצמו?

Question: In the case where a sick person is unable to make it to synagogue on Rosh Hashanah, and a friend who has already fulfilled their own obligation for Shofar goes to the home of the sick person to sound the shofar for them: Who makes the blessing? The one sounding the shofar, or the one hearing the shofar?

It is a given for Rabbi Isserlein (1390 - 1460) that a person may actually sound for others multiple times. And while Rabbi Isserlein asserts that it is technically likely that the one who [still] needs to "hear" also needs to say the blessing, the normative practice in almost all cases is for the one sounding the shofar to make the blessings, if even multiple times.

Here’s his full response:

Terumat HeDeshen (#140)

1) תשובה: יראה דמן הדין יש לברך החולה בעצמו, דכיון דעיקר המצו' בשמיעה כדמוכח מהתוקע לתוך הבור, ומשא"ה תקנו לברך לשמוע קול שופר ולא על תקיעת שופר, כדאיתא באשירי פ"ב דר"ה.

1) It seems that according to the letter of the law, the sick person is the one who should recite the blessing, since the essence of the obligation is to hear [the shofar]. This assertion is learned from the mishnah about the one who sounds a shofar into a pit, and also from the words of the blessing--to hear the sound of the shofar--and not--on the sounding of the shofar, as it taught by the Rosh in the last chapter of Tractate Rosh Hashanah. 

2) וא"כ כיון דאיהו נמי שומע כמו התוקע ואיהו דמחוייב לשמוע ולא חבירו התוקע, שהרי כבר יצא אמאי לא יברך בעצמו.

2) And if this is all the case, since this one [the sick  person] is also hearing like the one who is sounding, and the one who hears [this time] is the one obligated, not the one sounding, since the one sounding already fulfilled her obligation: why wouldn't the one listening be the right person to recite the blessing?

3) ולא דמי לשומעים מש"צ דלא מברכין, אלא מניחים לש"צ לברך עליהם, דהתם ש"צ גופיה מחויב לשמוע, וכיון דאיהו דתקע שפיר טפי, דאיהו מברך ונפקי כולהו בברכתו, דאין להרבות בברכות דלא צריכין.

3) And this case is not similar to the case of those hearing the blessing from the prayer leader [at the communal sounding of shofar] even though they themselves didn't make the blessing--they gave her that responsibility--for she too is obligated to hear [in that moment]. The fact that she [also] sounded the shofar is icing on the cake. She blesses, and everyone is exempted by that one blessing, as we should not n't increase unnecessary blessings. 

4) וכן כתב אשירי פ' בתרא שגם על השמיעה היו חייבים בני הקהל לברך, אלא דנפקי בברכת התוקע המברך בשליחותן, וכ"כ בהגהה בהלכות מילה.

4) And this was also written by the Rosh in the last chapter of Tractate Rosh Hashanah, that also on the hearing, they the congregation are obligated to bless, but they are exempted by the one who sounds the shofar and blesses on their behalf. And the Hagahot Maimoniy'ot also wrote this in the Laws of Milah.

5)  אבל בנ"ד דשליח לאו בר חיובא הוא רק החולה, ומצות השמיעה היא בגוף החולה כמו בגוף התוקע, א"כ למה לא יברך אותו שהוא מחוייב בדבר.

5) But for our situation, the one performing the action necessary to fulfill the obligation is not he himself obligated, only the sick person is obligated. [Since] the obligation of hearing is necessary for the sick person, why does not the sick person himself make the blessing since he is 's the one [still] obligated?!

6) ואף על פי שזה מכשיר לו השמיעה, מ"מ הרי הוא כמו שקושר תפילין לחבירו בראשו בזרועו, דמסתמא לא יברך, רק המניח, כך נראה מן הדין אלא שאין נוהגים כך.

6) And even though this one [that who has already fulfilled her obligation] makes it possible for the sick person to fulfill their obligation,--without the sounding this question would be moot--in any case, it is similar to the case of : The one who ties tefillin knots for his friend: It is , it's clear that he does not n't bless, rather the one who puts it on blesses. This seems to be the letter of the law, but it is not n't the normative practice.