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Ashrei Without A Minyan

June 7, 2015

It happens that often a quorum of ten men will gather for the afternoon prayers, but the tenth man will be a little later than the others. Now, in order to say qaddish and start the amida, the quorum of ten must be present, but what about for the introductory recitation of Psalm 145, usually known as Ashrei? The Rema (Orah Hayim 234:1) mentions that indeed, Ashrei should only be recited once the entire quorum is present, and the Magen Avraham mentions that if, for whatever reason, Ashrei was recited before the quorum was complete, it or another psalm should be said with the full quorum before the qaddish. The Magen Avraham then mentions that qaddishim should not be said in vain; the main reason for a qaddish is to conclude the public Torah study, and therefore, for example, the Rabbis’ Qaddish should not be recited when a small group studied together and then, only at the end, a complete quorum arrived. The Vilna Gaon (ad loc.) agrees with this argument. However, although it is fair to say that qaddish should only be recited when necessitated, there is halachic precedent for the more common practice, namely that those who are on time for Minha start saying Ashrei, and qaddish is said immediately when the tenth man shows up. It is this halacha from the MT Laws of Prayer, 9:1:

The order of [morning public] prayer is as follows: In the morning, [while] all the people are sitting, the leader of the congregation descends before the ark in the midst of the people and recites the qaddish. Everyone responds with all their strength: Amen. Yehei shemeih rabba mevarach le’alam ul’almei almaya. They answer “Amen” at the end of the qaddish.

Specifically, the half qaddish that begins the leader’s recitation of the morning sh’ma and its blessings does not need to be preceded by something. Rather, it itself is the introduction  to the public prayer. Although it is usually preceded by p’suqei d’zimra, it is not required and often omitted by many, and even when it is said, is anyone checking to make sure that a full ten men have actually said it? So too, although it is proper that the quorum gather for the recitation of Ashrei, if time is short and the quroum arrives late, the public prayer can begin with the qaddish. On the other hand, if indeed the halacha requires that the afternoon service begin with a full quorum for Ashrei, then indeed it should also be that in the morning, a full quorum be around for whatever comes before the qaddish before bar’chu

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From → halacha, sh'ma

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