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Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part IV)


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 Kedushah and Modim? I hear some chazzanim say every word of Kedushah 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 Kedushah 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 Shmoneh 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 Sefer Abudarham Hashalem (p. 73-74), Rabbi David Abudarham (1258-1295) states that Nakdishach [Nekadesh] and the like [Keter – Na’aritzach] are devarim she’b’kedushah (matters involving sanctifying Hashem) and require a quorum for recital while the kedushah of Yotzer Ohr and U’va Letziyyon may be said without a quorum. He confirms this as being noted in siddurim of his time. He explains that the latter kedushot refute those who deny G-d’s presence in the world by relating how all creation praises Him. The former kedushot are joint offers of praise with the angels (Rabbi Emden in his Siddur Beit Yaakov).

* * * Rabbi Yaakov Emden notes that kedushah is always a responsive recital as it is not proper to say kedushah together with the chazzan. Rather, one should concentrate in silence on what the chazzan is saying. Rabbi Emden’s discussion refers to Nakdishach/Nekadesh of Shacharit and Minchah, or Keter/Na’aritzcha of Musaf. The congregation answers and says aloud, together with the chazzan, the phrases “Kadosh kadosh…,” “Baruch kevod,” and “Yimloch.” This means that not only do the congregants not say Nakdishach/Nekadesh, but they also omit “Le’umatam meshabchim…” and “U’vedivrei Kodeshecha…” as these are the chazzan’s call to the congregation. Indeed, if one studies the text of this prayer, the above is crystal clear.

We see, however, that many do not follow this procedure. While they may be incorrect, if a great number of people do so, we may have to look away, especially if the practice is widespread (Berachot 45a).

There is a notable exception to the above outlined procedure. The Rema (Orach Chayim 124:2) explains that sometimes people fear that if the congregation first says the silent Amidah followed by chazarat hashatz, the congregation will miss z’man tefillah (the proper time for davening). In such a case, the congregation should immediately recite along with the chazzan, word for word (but not louder than him), until after Kedushah. The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. sk9) is very emphatic that the congregants should also say “Ledor vador” word for word together with the chazzan in such circumstances (for those congregations that have these words printed in their siddurim).

The Rema notes that even in this scenario, at least one person (who already prayed) should answer “Amen” to the chazzan’s blessings. The reason for this is that the recital of “Amen” substantiates the shelichut of the chazzan as a messenger of the congregation, discharging its requirement of tefillah b’tzibbur.

The congregants reciting along with the chazzan, however, cannot say “Amen” because we have a rule that one may not answer “Amen” to one’s own blessings (Mechaber, Orach Chayim 215:1 based on Berachot 45b; cf. Jerusalem Talmud Yevamot 12:1). (There is one blessing which one may answer oneself and that is “Boneh Yerushalayim” in the Grace after Meals. Rashi [Berachot 45a s.v. “Ha b’boneh Yerushalayim”] explains that “Boneh Yerushalayim” is bentching’s last biblically required blessing. Saying “Amen” distinguishes it “Tov U’maitiv” which is only rabbinically required.)

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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