Hefsek: Nattering, “Nu…” or only a Nod

#818: Hefsek: Nattering, “Nu…” or only a Nod

During certain parts of davening, and between making a brachah on a mitzvah and performing it, we may not divert our attention from the task at hand by making a hefsek b’dibbur (a verbal interruption). *

What constitutes dibbur? It is common to hear a person attempting to avoid a hefsek b’dibbur by saying, “Sha!” or “Nu…” But these expressions are as problematic as other phrases; any verbal communication, in any language—Lashon haKodesh (the Holy Tongue), common jargon and even ad-hoc lingo that is audible and comprehensible are all considered a hefsek b’dibbur.

Is a niggun (tune) considered dibbur? Most poskim agree that a niggun, which is often used as a vehicle for uplifting our davening, is permitted during the tefilos (prayers) that are said in unison—as long as it is wordless, relevant and not overly lengthy.

What if I need the bread knife? Making a hefsek between washing for bread and reciting Hamotzie is not as strict as other circumstances requiring our undivided attention, and it is less problematic to speak during this time. In addition, it is always okay to indicate if anything is required that is related to performing the mitzvah at hand. So if salt or other item is needed to make the brachah of Hamotzie, it is halachically permissible to denote, “Nu!” for the occasion.

*For more about different types of hefsek for different circumstances see Halachah #603; also Halachah #285 about mayim acharonim (water [for rinsing] at the end [of the meal]); Halachah #593 and Halachah #607 for washing and the brachah on bread; and Halachah #730 regarding Hamapil.


Practical Halacha: One minute a day. By Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, shlita, Mara D'asra and member of the Badatz of Crown Heights.