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October 13, 2015 / 30 Tishri, 5776
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Q & A: A Sabbath Desecrator Leading Services (Part IV)


The Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chayim 53:8) clarifies that the Rema’s discussion of murder is only an example. Any and all sins are subject to the same “intentionally versus unintentionally” distinction the Rema makes.

As far as one who has a pleasant voice, the Aruch HaShulchan (sk 13) lauds this as a special gift that one is granted from G-d. If a shliach tzibbur stands before Him in true heartfelt praise, he will be truly blessed. The Aruch HaShulchan (sk 14) further notes that one who serves as a shliach tzibbur must take care to articulate and pronounce every word properly – each letter and vowel must be correct. This is included in the Gemara’s requirement of someone with vast scriptural proficiency. One with such knowledge will not find the various verses that constitute major portions of our tefillah alien and therefore difficult to pronounce.

(We note, parenthetically, that many communities have different havarot, or pronunciations. Lithuanians, Germans, chassidim, Sephardim, etc. all have different ways of pronouncing Hebrew. Syrian Jews are very careful to pronounce all words mi’le’ra – with the accent on the last syllable. Other communities pronounce words mi’le’eil – with the accent on the opening syllable. Some Jews, like the Yemenites, have the letter thav as opposed to a sav and a jimmel as opposed to a gimmel.)

The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. sk 13), in understanding the essence of the Gemara, explains that it is proper to seek out a shliach tzibbur who is a tzaddik ben tzaddik – a righteous man who is the son of a righteous man. There is no comparison between the prayer of a tzaddik ben tzaddik and that of a tzaddik ben rasha. (This concept is based on Genesis 25:21, which states that G-d answered “his” – i.e. Yitzhak’s – prayers for a child. Although Rivkah also prayed, her prayers were considered deficient compared to Yitzhak’s since her father was the evil Bethuel.)

Lest one think that it is imperative to seek only someone who possesses impeccable family pedigree to serve as a shliach tzibbur, the Mishnah Berurah notes the Rosh’s comments that the requirements to serve as a shliach tzibbur do not necessarily include family pedigree. If someone is a tzaddik himself but does not come from a distinguished family, he can serve as a shliach tzibbur as long as his father is not wicked.

We may suggest that “wicked” perhaps only means wicked like Bethuel who was a rasha mefursam – whose wicked behavior was on public display. Someone whose improper behavior is not well known might perhaps not be classified as wicked in this context. Consequently, someone who possessed such a father would still be able to be a chazzan according to the Rosh.

(To be continued)

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

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One Response to “Q & A: A Sabbath Desecrator Leading Services (Part IV)”

  1. You have stated:
    Exodus 31:16-17 is the source for our Sabbath observance. The verse explains that Shabbat serves as a sign between G-d and the Jewish people of our uniqueness before G-d.

    I am reading these mentioned verses in my Torah:
    Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, [for] a perpetual covenant.
    It [is] a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for [in] six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

    Nowhere these verses state that the Jews are a people of your uniqueness before G-d.
    It is clearly telling that the children of Israel do have the Sabbath as perpetual sign.
    What percentage are the Jews of the children of Israel?
    To claim being unique is robbing the covenant from the other children of Israel and is a shame, an impunity and a chutzpah.
    The Sabbath is a sign, even for the Muslims. The Qur'an states that clearly in Surah 2:66.
    The Sabbath is a sign, foremost for all humanity, as it was part of the Creation with Adam and Eve. And Eve is the mother of all living (Gen 3:20).

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