Question: [Tuesday, 15th Kisleiv 5781]
It often happens that I reach Shemoneh Esrei a minute or two after the congregation has already begun to Daven Shemoneh Esrei together. I’m not sure what I should be doing in this situation and if I should just start Davening right away and take a chance of missing Kedusha, or if I should wait until after Kedusha to begin, or if I should begin together with the Chazan as I have seen many people do. If it makes any difference, I can often hear the Minyan next door and answer to their Kedusha while I’m still reciting Pesukei Dezimra, and so it’s not like I will not have an opportunity to answer Kedusha if I miss it by my Minyan.
On those days that you have already answered Kedusha prior to your Shemoneh Esrei, then you may, and should, begin right away and do not have to wait at all. On those days that you did not already answer Kedusha, then whether you should start right away or wait is dependent on that which is explained next.
Explanation and elaboration: First off, you should be aware that the main aspect of Davening with the minyan is to begin Shemoneh Esrei together with the minyan exactly at the same time, and therefore you should try to get into the habit of timing your prayer so you can begin together with them. Now, regarding your specific question of what’s better to do in the situation that you did not begin with them and you are now ready to begin. So, if you will be able to finish your Shemoneh Esrei in time to answer Kedusha, then there is no need for you to wait at all and you may and even should begin right away, and not wait until after Kedusha or until the Chazzan begins Chazaras Hashatz. If however you will not be able to finish prior to the Chazan reaching Kedusha, then from the letter of the law, you are to wait and not begin Shemoneh Esrei until after Kedusha of the Chazan, and even that should only initially be done if you can finish your Shemoneh Esrei before the Chazan reaches Shema Koleinu, in order so you can answer Amen to his blessing. Certainly, you should only start if you can finish before the Chazan recites Kaddish after Shemoneh Esrei, otherwise you should wait until after Davening to begin your Shemoneh Esrei. You should not begin Shemoneh Esrei together with the Chazan as many people do, as although there are Poskim who rule this way, the simple ruling of the Shulchan Aruch, including the Shulchan Aruch of Admur, is to wait until after Kedusha of the Chazan, so you can participate in answering it, and so is testified to have been the directive of the Rebbe to delay until after Kedusha. Nonetheless, there are a few exceptions to this rule, in which case one may and even should begin Shemoneh Esrei right away even if it will cause him to miss Kedusha. The following are the case of exception:
- You already said Goal Yisrael. In such a case, you are to begin right away in all cases.
- If not beginning right away will cause you to not be able to complete Shemoneh Esrei before Sof Zeman Tefila, then you are to begin right away.
- If you already heard Kedusha, or plan to hear it later on from another minyan, then you may begin right away.
Sources: See Michaber and Rama 109:1-2; Admur 109:1-4; Ketzos Hashulchan 22:15; M”B 109 in name of Elya Raba and Chayeh Adam and Levushei Serud 109 and Misgeres Hashulchan 20:4 and Piskeiy Teshuvos 109:1 who all direct to begin with Chazan, although all the previous sources in Michaber/Admur say to wait until after Kedusha and so rules the Ketzos Hashulchan ibid and thus so should be done; See also Hiskashrus 1017 and 1019 for testified directive of Rebbe to delay until after Kedusha as rules Admur, and that so ruled Rav Z”S Dworkin; Regarding the importance of beginning Shemoneh Esrei exactly with the minyan see: Admur 109:4 and Peri Megadim Ashel Avraham 109:2; Levushei Serud 109