The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash
A WEEKLY SHIUR IN HALAKHIC TOPICS
Yeshivat Har Etzion
Obligations of the Chazzan in Communal Prayer
By Rav Ezra Bick
Translated by Yoseif Bloch
In Part I, we began to analyze the unique and complex mission of the shatz, the communal delegate, and his relationship to the congregation. We saw the impact his special responsibility has on the prefatory elements of the Shemoneh Esrei, the silent prayer that is the centerpiece of our thrice-daily communication with God. We will now examine the applications within Shemoneh Esrei itself and its aftermath:
The form of Kedusha is that the shatz begins, "Nekadesh," "Let us make holy," and we reply after him, "Kadosh," "Holy!" It appears obvious that "Nekadesh" and its variations were instituted practically as a call of the chazzan to the congregation; hence, if he says it silently to himself he annuls the very nature of the Kedusha. We mentioned in Part I that this form of invitation and response exists by law in every "matter of holiness." Therefore, it appears that if he says it silently, even in part, it is an interruption of his prayer, for if it is not a call to the public, it has no purpose. Since today the custom is that the community also says "Nekadesh," even though it is clear that the Sages instituted this for the shatz, the chazzan must wait until they all finish, in order to call to the public to answer "Kadosh." See the Shulchan Arukh (OC 125), who rules that the congregation should not say "Nekadesh," but rather they should be silent, and so the Beit Yosef writes about the "invitations" that follow the first two verses within Kedusha proper. The Taz there writes that an individual can recite these lines in the kedusha word by word with the chazzan. It appears according to his opinion that the chazzan must recite it in a loud voice and the people must say it with him. This is somewhat problematic because if in practice the people do not have to hear, what difference does it make that the shatz says it aloud? Indeed, the Beit Yosef stresses that the congregation MUST hear it from the shatz. From the Taz's words it appears that he holds that only the problem of saying a davar she-bikdusha in the presence of ten still holds. However, according to what we have explained, the introductory call is specifically required, and the congregation must hear it from the shatz. Hence, if we all nevertheless say "Nekadesh," the congregation should say it before the chazzan, while he waits until they finish, and then he should say, "Nekadesh" (this word specifically being the main thrust). (See Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav, who permits the congregation to say "Nekadesh" without the chazzan.)
The Bi'ur Halakha (chapter 125) writes: "I am doubtful concerning the shatz, if he must say 'Kadosh' and 'Barukh' [Yeshayahu 6:3 and Yechezkel 3:12 respectively, the main verses of Kedusha] along with the congregation... How could he say it afterwards without ten?" The "Emek Berakha" cites the "Order of Prayers" of the Rambam (printed immediately after Sefer Ahava), which says explicitly regarding the verses of Kedusha: "All of these things that the congregation answers, [the shatz] should read with them, and he should not raise his voice at the time that they answer with him."
However, the matter still requires clarification. If there were non-proficient members of the congregation, those who held the text neither in print nor in memory, the shatz would assuredly have to say Kedusha aloud in order to exempt them. If so, today as well, even though these people presumably do not exist, the main decree to repeat still exists, like the rest of the shatz's repetition of the Shemoneh Esrei. Hence, although the congregation says the Kedusha, it appears that the shatz must repeat the words after them. See the Igrot Moshe (OC 3:64), who writes that even today the shatz must repeat the verses after the congregation, in order to exempt one who is "caught" in the middle of his silent prayer, who remains silent and fulfills the obligation of Kedusha through the shatz. (From the language of the responsum, it appears that R. Feinstein is suggesting that the chazzan repeat the verses out loud as a bit of good advice, since it is common that there are people who have not finished praying silently at the point that the chazzan reaches Kedusha. However, I have heard in his name that he maintained that this law emanates from the very institution of the chazzan, as the institution of the chazzan is as if there were non-proficient members of the congregation, even though nowadays everyone has a printed text.) Presumably, this would also answer the Mishna Berura's question that Kedusha cannot be recited privately; how then can the shatz repeat the verses of Kedusha? The answer is that, since there is a law of "shatz" concerning the repetition of the verses of Kedusha, this is not in any way considered "private." Just as the repetition of the prayer by the shatz is not considered a private prayer, even though it is said by one person, because the shatz says it on the congregation's behalf, so is the form of the recitation of Kedusha.
It is possible to claim that the nature of the role of the shatz as regards Kedusha is not the same as regards the larger prayer of Shemoneh Esrei. In the latter, there is a status of "communal prayer," where one person recites the entire prayer and the congregation answers amen: this is the shatz's repetition. However, in Kedusha, one might claim that there is no law of "communal prayer," but rather Kedusha is recited by the entire congregation, and the requirement of the shatz, as we explained above, is to call them to say "Kadosh." Concerning the Kedusha per se, there is no requirement of repetition nor that it be recited by one in the name of the congregation. A proof for this distinction is the fact that we do not find the possibility of the shatz reciting kedusha outloud for a silent community (for the non-proficient).
However, it appears that even if this is correct in terms of the essential law of Kedusha, nevertheless, since the Sages instituted that it be said within the third blessing at the beginning, from "Nekadesh" and finishing with the closing of the blessing, Kedusha becomes part of Shemoneh Esrei. The chazzan therefore must say aloud the verses of Kedusha by virtue of their inclusion in the repetition of Shemoneh Esrei, and not because of the internal structure of Kedusha itself. (See Sha'arei Teshuva 114:11, that a chazzan who forgets "Mashiv ha-ru'ach," the seasonal addition to the second blessing regarding rain, and has aleady begun Kedusha must go back to the beginning of the prayer. This is despite the fact that if in the silent prayer one remembers after the close of the second blessing and before the start of the third, there is no requirement to start again.) Therefore, whether in its own right or from its being a part of the shatz's Shemoneh Esrei, Kedusha has a law of "communal prayer," and the chazzan must say it in a loud voice for the sake of the listeners.
An additional reason to require repetition of the verses of Kedusha emerges from the words of the Rosh. The Rosh (Berakhot 7:26) brings in the name of the Ri Barceloni that the chazzan must repeat the congregation's response to Barekhu in order to include himself in the saying of the blessing. (The final word of Barekhu, "ha-mevorakh," is added so as not to exclude himself from the general populace.) The Rav zt"l explains that we find here a special law concerning devarim she-bekedusha: that they are said responsively, with the chazzan inviting and the people responding and THE CHAZZAN THEN RESPONDING AS WELL, and this is the nature of form of Kedusha and other matters of holiness. According to this, the Rav zt"l explained the words of the Rambam (in the Order of Prayers), who writes that the shatz and the congregation should says Kedusha together, and omits in the laws of Barekhu threquirement for the chazzan to repeat the congregation's response. From here, it appears that the Rambam disagrees with the position that requires that the shatz repeat whatever the congregation responds. However, according to the ruling of the Shulchan Arukh (chapter 57) and our custom that the shatz does repeat the response to Barekhu, that principle would exist also in Kedusha, and the shatz would consequently have to repeat the verses of Kedusha. It is clear that one cannot claim that it is forbidden for the chazzan to repeat the verses simply because Kedusha cannot be said privately, as in Barekhu as well it is not said privately - yet he does repeat the congregation's response. Rather, since this is the proper responsive form of the blessing, recited in public with the division of labors between the chazzan and the congregation, all the different recitations are PUBLIC.
There is a certain contradiction between this reason and the earlier one. According to the reasoning that this is the order of Kedusha - invitation, response, and restatement - the chazzan is not truly exempting the congregation through his REPETITION as regards Kedusha, but rather the Kedusha is said ONCE in this divided form. However, according to the previous reason, the chazzan repeats the verses out loud because in addition to the "matter of holiness" principle, there is a law of repeating the Shemoneh Esrei, with Kedusha intertwined with it. The practical difference would be if one says Kedusha without the repetition of the shatz (the "heikha kedusha" prayer).
The source of the Ri Barceloni's law is the insitution of zimun, the invitation of one to two others when they have eaten together and are required to recite the Grace after Meals. From the simple language of the gemara (Berakhot 46b), it appears that the mezamen (inviter) repeats the response (although there are early authorities who disagree; see Shita Mekubetzet, Berakhot 49b). Even though the blessing of zimun is not a davar she-bikdusha, zimun is derived from the verse, "When I call the name of Lord, bring greatness to our God" (Devarim 32:3), and Rashi (45a, s.v. Gadlu) explains that "the individual says to the two;" in other words there is an idea of invitation and response, and the Sages maintained that the inviter joins in through his repetition. In Kedusha, it appears that there also is an idea of invitation and response ("One will call to the other and say..." in the introduction to the first verse). However, the Rambam differentiates between zimun and devarim she-bekedusha, apparently disagreeing with the preceding reasons concerning the shatz's repetition. The Rambam maintains that the shatz's mission is only as regards the INVITATION to respond. Therefore he writes that the shatz should not raise his voice, but rather should join with the congregation to answer simultaneously with them. According to our approach, on the other hand, since there is a requirement for the shatz to repeat the verses based on the aspect of Kedusha, we can very well say that the law of repetition of the prayer applies, and therefore he should wait and reply loudly.
In many synagogues, the custom has spread that chazzan repeats "Modim" silently until he reaches somewhere near the end. It appears that the source of this custom is consideration for the congregation, which is busy saying the "Modim de-rabbanan" at the same time. However, this would seem to actively undermine the nature of the shatz's repetition. B'diavad the congregation certainly fulfills its obligation with only the closing of the blessing and its antecedent, as we discussed in Part I, but preferably, without a doubt, he has to repeat the entire text of the blessing that the Sages instituted. Therefore the chazzan should say Modim aloud, while the congregation should say Modim de-rabbanan simultaneously and silently, and this is the custom in many congregations. (I was informed that in Kahal Adath Jeshurun in New York, the rabbis particularly instructed the chazzanim to repeat Modim aloud while at the same time the congregation should say Modim de-rabbanan. They reported that this was a tradition from the congregation in Frankfurt-am-Main.)
However, it is logical to assume that there is an obligation on the congregation to HEAR the shatz's prayer, and if they at that time are reciting a different prayer, they cannot listen to the shatz. The question is: Is there really a law that requires the congregation to say Modim de-rabbanan itself at the same time that the chazzan says Modim? The gemara states (Sota 40a), "At the time that the shatz says Modim, what do the people say?", implying that their recital is simultaneous. But the Rambam's language (Laws of Tefilla 9:4) is: "When the shatz REACHES MODIM and bows, everyone bows a little... and they say [their] Modim." From his words it is implied that the essential point is the simultaneous bowing, and therefore it is possible that the chazzan could say the main part of the blessing after the congregation finishes saying Modim de-rabbanan. Even if one claims that the bowing of the shatz has to be concurrent with the beginning of the berakha, it is still possible that the shatz could recite only the first three words, which define the theme of Modim, gratitude, and then pause, and this would be considered simultaneous recitation, since they began at the same time. Regardless, it is difficult to explain why the shatz should not say it aloud like the rest of the prayer, and the common practice of silent recitation by the shatz is difficult to defend.
The language of the gemara in Berakhot (4a), implies that the verse "Yihyu le-ratzon" ("Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be for goodwill," Tehillim 19:15) at the end of the prayer is parallel to "Hashem sefatai" at the beginning of the prayer. (See Part I, 2.) If so, it follows that it is part of the "extended prayer;" that is, an integral part of the essential Shemoneh Esrei. Indeed, the Mechaber rules (123:6): "When the shatz repeats the prayer, he should also say 'Hashem sefatai;' to which the Rema adds "but he does not say 'Yihyu le-ratzon' at the end of the prayer." The Taz writes in his explanation:
"After the prayer which he prays for others it is inappropriate to say 'and the meditation of MY HEART,' for he did not pray for himself, so he would have to refer to the meditation of the hearts of those listening to his prayer, and this is not the text of the verse."
The Magen Avraham adds another reason: "He relies on 'Titkabel tselotehon'" (in the full Kaddish, a line with a similar theme), but he adds that the Shela disagrees and rules that one should say it. (See the Gra, who rules like the Shela.) The Sma writes in a responsum (Sefer Ha-zikaron Le-ha-rav Betzalel Zolti, p. 120) that the intent of the Rema is only to say that there is no obligation to do so, but certainly it is not forbidden to do so; in fact, it is preferable.
In section 122, there is a disagreement whether one can interrupt to answer Kaddish and Kedusha before saying "Yihyu Le-ratzon." According to the Mechaber, this is forbidden: "'Yihyu le-ratzon' is part of the (Shemona Esrei)." It appears from this that the chazzan too must to say it immediately after Shemoneh Esrei. He cannot rely on "Titkabel," for if it is forbidden to interrupt to respond to Kaddish, all the more so it is impossible to recite Kaddish before saying "Yihyu le-ratzon." On the other hand it appears that the Rema in section 123, who says that the chazzan is exempt from "Yihyu le-ratzon," is following his opinion in section 122, where he permits one to interrupt before "Yihyu le-ratzon." The Mishna Berura (122:2-3) says that "lechatchila" an individual should say "Yihyu le-ratzon" twice, once immediately after the final blessing and another time after the added supplications, in accordance with the Mechaber's opinion. Accordingly, the chazzan preferably should say "Yihyu le-ratzon" at the end of his prayer.
The Shulchan Aruch writes (123:5): "When he repeats the prayer in a loud voice, he does not have to step back tpaces," and the commentaries note the source in the Terumat HaDeshen (13). The reason given by the Terumat HaDeshen is that the shatz waits to go back his three steps until after the full Kaddish following "U-va le-tzi'on," even though in the meantime he has recited the reading of the Torah, Kedusha, Hallel, Avinu Malkeinu, etc., for "it is all considered part of the order of prayer, and the Kaddish afterwards returns to the main theme of Shemoneh Esrei." His words imply that the obligation is to say farewell with three steps after the prayer, and therefore even though he interrupts, nevertheless the Kaddish recited at the end of the prayer returns to the Shemoneh Esrei prayer, and by this he fulfills his requirement to say "Shalom." We should point out that it is the custom in many places that the prayer services are divided between two different mourners, and one shatz recites Shemoneh Esrei, and another the completion of Shacharit, which includes Kaddish. Even though in terms of the order of prayer there is no problem, as there is a farewell, nevertheless there is an implicit requirement on one who prays to say "Shalom" - and this is why everyone says "Oseh shalom" at the end of the silent prayer. How then can someone else recite Kaddish, with the "Oseh Shalom?" We must say that saying "Shalom" is not a requirement of the one who prays per se, but rather of the prayer itself. Concerning the individual, it is no different than private prayer in his own house, and therefore he says it at the end of his prayer; but for the prayer of the shatz, it is enough that it be said at the end of the service. The Magen Avraham (chapter 13) writes that one cannot protest the action of the shatz who steps back three paces after his prayer, and this is quoted by the Gra; perhaps, where the prayer is split as above, there is a preference that the one who recites Shemoneh Esrei should give "Shalom" after his prayer.
As opposed to what is stated above, the language of the Rambam implies that the requirement of three steps is a detail of the essence of prayer, and an integral part of it; accordingly one could not rely on the three steps after Kaddish. While the Kaddish is related to the Shemoneh Esrei, it is not part of Shemoneh Esrei itself. The Rambam (5:1) writes: "Regarding eight matters one who prays must be circumspect to perform them," and lists "bowing" as one of them. He continues (5:10):
"How does one bow? One who prays bows five times in each and every prayer: at the beginning and end of the first blessing, and at the blessing of gratitude at its beginning and end, and when he finishes the prayer he bows and steps back three paces..."
The Rambam thus includes the three steps with the bowing, together with the bowings of the blessings, and this is a requirement of prayer just like the other matters which the Rambam enumerates there. Apparently, according to the Rambam, the shatz must bow and step back at the end of his prayer and give "Shalom" to his right and left like any individual. (The Mechaber in chapter 113 brings the laws of bowing, mentioning only FOUR bowings, omitting the fifth, implying that he disagrees.) The custom of my master, the Rav zt"l, was to say "Oseh shalom" immediately at the end of the prayer if there is an interruption for Tachanun, and only if the shatz says Kaddish immediately afterwards (as in ma'ariv) can he rely on it not to say "Oseh shalom." This is different from the recital of "Yihyu le-ratzon," which the Rav zt"l was accustomed to recite in all situations, because of the argument that it is an "extended prayer," like "Hashem sefatai." This is not true of "Oseh shalom," which is not itself part of the prayer.
It is my hope that our analysis of the sheliach tzibbur's functions will enhance all our prayers. In this way, we may hope to reach a fuller understanding of the complex relationship between the congregation and their delegate in the wondrous process of prayer.
To receive the shiur every week, write to:
With the message:
This shiur is provided courtesy of the Virtual Beit Midrash, the premier source of online courses on Torah and Judaism - 14 different courses on all levels, for all backgrounds.
Make Jewish learning part of your week on a regular basis - enroll in the
(c) Yeshivat Har Etzion 2001. All rights reserved to Yeshivat Har Etzion.
Yeshivat Har Etzion
Alon Shvut, Israel, 90433