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Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part VI)


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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 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).

Many do not follow the correct responsive procedure for Kedushah, and since the practice is widespread, it may have to be overlooked (Berachot 45a). If the congregants will miss z’man tefillah, however, the Rema (Orach Chayim 124:2) writes that they should quietly recite along with the chazzan until after Kedushah. At least one person who already prayed, even a child, should answer “Amen” to the chazzan’s blessings to substantiates the shelichut of the chazzan. Those praying with the chazzan may not respond “Amen.”

Another prayer style when time is pressing is as follows: The chazzan begins the Amida, and after “HaKel HaKadosh,” everyone begins their silent Amidah (while the chazzan continues quietly with his own Amida). (See Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chayim 124 sk8.) This procedure is commonly performed for Mincha, especially in yeshivot.

The tefillah of Modim within the Amida is so important that Berachot 21b instructs one who arrives late (after kedushah, explains Orach Chayim 109:1) to begin praying only if he will conclude before the chazzan reaches Modim. The Mishnah Berurah (sk2) notes that this applies to a latecomer in middle of birkat keriat Shema attempting to catch up to the minyan and debating whether he should start his personal Amida after the congregants have started theirs. Tosafot explain that one must bow with the congregation at Modim in order that he not appear as a denier of G-d to whom they are praying (see Rabbenu Tam, Tosafot s.v. “ad sh’lo yagia…” Berachot 21b).

This week we direct our attention to Modim D’Rabbanan.

* * * * *

Modim D’Rabbanan is referred to in the Gemara in Sotah. The Gemara asks: “At the time that the chazzan recites Modim, what does the congregation say? Rav said: ‘Modim anachnu lach Hashem Elokeinu al she’anu modem lach – We give thanks to You Hashem, our G-d because we [are able – Rashi] to give thanks to You.’ Shmuel added [see Rashi, who says that each of the sages enumerated in this Gemara added to the praise of the one previously cited]: ‘Elokei kol bosor al she’anu Modim lach – G-d of all flesh, since we give You thanks.” R. Simai added: ‘Yotzreinu yotzer bereishit al she’anu modem lach – Our Creator and the Creator of [all in] the beginning.’

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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