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Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part III – continued from May 18)


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Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shmoneh Esreh out loud so that people who may not know how to daven can fulfill their obligation to daven with the chazzan’s repetition. What, however, should the chazzan do when he reaches Kedushahh and Modim? I hear some chazzanim say every word of Kedushahh out loud and some only say the last part of the middle two phrases out loud. As far as the congregation is concerned, I hear some congregants say every word of Kedushahh and some say only the last part. Finally, some chazzanim and congregants say Modim during chazaras hashatz out loud and some say it quietly. What is the source for these various practices?

A Devoted Reader
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Answer: The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 124:1) explains that a chazzan repeats Shemoneh Esreh out loud to fulfill the prayer obligation of those who can’t pray on their own (see Rosh Hashana 33b-34a).

The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 125:1) states that congregants should not recite Nakdishach [Nekadesh] together with the chazzan; rather they should remain silent and concentrate on the chazzan’s recitation until he finishes that portion, at which point they should say, “Kadosh, kadosh…” The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. sk1) explains that congregants should remain quiet because the chazzan is their messenger, and if they say Nakdishach along with him, he no longer appears as their messenger.

* * * * *

In truth, any discussion of Kedushah would be incomplete without discussing all three of the daily kedushah recitals: Birkat Keriat Shema, the Amidah, and U’va Letziyon.

In Sefer Abudarham Hashalem (p. 73-74), Rabbi David Abudarham (1258-1295) discusses the weekday tefillat shacharit and writes: “There are those who maintain that this kedushah [of Birkat Keriat Shema and] U’va Letziyon should not be said with less than 10 [adult Jewish males] present and that an individual [praying alone or a congregation of less than 10] skips these [two items]. However, the sages in France say that an individual is allowed to say them because they are not considered devarim she’b’kedushah (matters involving sanctification) [which requires the presence of 10 adult males]. Rather, only Nakdishach [Nekadesh] and the like [Keter – Na’aritzach], through which we sanctify [Hashem], are considered to be devarim she’b’kedushah.

“However, an individual is permitted to recite the kedushah of Yotzer Ohr [Birkat Keriat Shema] and U’va Letziyon, which are considered ‘recounting of matters’ [and not devarim she’b’kedushah], that is, how the angels sanctify Hashem, even where a minyan is lacking – and this is what we find in Tractate Sofrim (16:12).”

The Abudarham cites Rabbenu Yonah who explains the statement in Megillah 23b that any matter of kedushah can only be said with a minyan does not refer to every single matter of kedushah. For example, there is no greater kedushah than Keriat Shema, involving as it does kaballat ohl malchut shamayim (accepting the yoke of the Heavenly Kingship of Hashem), and yet no minyan is required to say it.

Rabbenu Yonah explains that the rule about devarim she’b’kedushah requiring a minyan only applies to Chazarat HaShatz and Kaddish, for example, for which the sages specifically required the presence of 10. The sages, however, never required 10 men for Keriat Shema, Yotzer Ohr, or U’va Letziyon.

Abudarham makes an unusual but rather telling and fundamental statement. He writes, “Be aware that it – kedushah of Yotzer Ohr and U’va Letziyon – is written [printed] in all tefillot that are to be recited by the individual. However, Nakdishach [Nekadesh] is not written as a tefillah for the individual [i.e. even in his time there were specific notations restricting its recital to a minyan].”

Now, what might seem to be a difficulty is a mishnah (on Megillah 23b) that states that one should not porais et Shema (literally, “divide Shema”) with less than a minyan. Rashi ad loc., s.v. “ein porsin…” explains that when 10 adult males come to a synagogue after the congregation already recited Keriat Shema, one may stand before them and recite Kaddish, Barchu, and Yotzer Ohr.

The Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chayim 69:1, citing Radvaz) explains the halacha as also applying to a different situation: Only nine people were present in a synagogue, so they each prayed individually (b’yechidut). A tenth man then arrived who had not yet prayed. He may now stand before them and recite Shema, but only with its first berachah, not its second one. The term “porsin” means to divide something into halves – in this case the Birkat Keriat Shema.

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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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