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Posts Tagged ‘Berachot’

Q & A: Selichot Restrictions (Part II)

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Question: The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch states that an individual praying selichot without a minyan is not allowed to recite the Thirteen Midot or the Aramaic prayers. What is the rationale behind this halacha?

Moshe Jakobowitz
Brooklyn, NY

Answer: The Beit Yosef on the Tur (Orach Chayim 565) explains that the Shelosh Esreh Midot represent a communal prayer and thus a davar she’b’kedushah. A mishnah in Tractate Megillah (23b) enumerates the situations that incorporate a davar she’b’kedusha and require a minyan.

* * * * *

Now we turn to the matter of the prayers in Aramaic.

The halacha that the Aramaic selichot prayers may only be recited with a minyan is based on a discussion in Shabbos 12b. Rabba b. Bar Hana said, “When we would follow Rabbi Eleazar to inquire after [the health of] a sick person, sometimes he would say [in Hebrew], ‘Hamakom yifkodcha l’shalom – May the Omnipresent remember you with peace,’ whereas at other times he would say [the same prayer in Aramaic], ‘Rachmana yidkerinach lishlam.’ ” The Gemara asks: How could he pray in Aramaic? Didn’t Rabbi Yehuda say that one should never make a request in Aramaic? And didn’t Rabbi Yohanan say that when a person makes a request in Aramaic, the ministering angels do not come to his aid since they do not understand Aramaic?

The Gemara answers that a prayer for a sick person is different since the Divine Presence is with him. Rabbi Anan said in Rab’s name: How do we know that the Divine Presence supports a sick person? Because it is written (Psalms 41:4), “Hashem yis’adenu al eres devai – G-d supports him on the sickbed.” Rava quotes an alternate explanation of that pasuk in the name of Rabbin. He says “Hashem yis’adenu…” also implies that G-d provides sustenance to a sick person. Yis’adenu can mean both help and provision of food.

The Shiltei HaGibborim (ad loc.), quoting the Tur (Yoreh De’ah 335), states that when one is in the presence of a sick person, one should plead on his behalf in any language. However, if not in his presence, one should only make the request in Hebrew. The question is why? Isn’t the Divine Presence with a sick person even if one isn’t praying for him in his presence? Tosafot (Shabbos ad loc. s.v. “She’ein mal’achei hasharet”) ask another question (for which they do not provide an answer): If we posit that the ministering angels are privy to the innermost thoughts of man, how is it possible that they do not understand Aramaic?

Furthermore, as Rabbi Shmuel Eliezer Edels (the Maharsha) points out in the late edition (“mahadura batra”) of his Chiddushei Halachot on Tractate Shabbos (found at the back of the Vilna Shas), we cannot assume that every person whose life is endangered will be helped by G-d, as evidenced by the verse in Parshat Korach (Numbers 16:29), “Im ke’mot kol ha’adam yemutun eileh ufkudat kol ha’adam yippakeid aleihem… – [Said Moses:] If these die like other men, and the destiny of all men is visited upon them, then it is not G-d who has sent me.”

Korach and his followers were about to be punished for their rebelliousness against Moses. The manner of their death would serve as proof that their rebelliousness was not just directed against Moses, as Korach contended, but against G-d as well. They would not die after an illness, like other mortals whom the Divine Presence visits on their sickbed, but would be swallowed alive by the earth, without any recourse against the decree. This is because by rebelling against Moses they were, in fact, rebelling against G-d, on whose mission Moses had been sent. It is also from this verse that Resh Lakish derives the mitzvah of visiting the sick, as detailed in Tractate Nedarim (39b).

With this in mind, we might also wonder how we are to know when to beseech G-d on behalf of a sick person. When is an ailing person in grave danger, i.e., how do we define “choleh”? Since we do not know the extent of the danger and have to utilize every means at our disposal – including the help of ministering angels who understand only Hebrew – we resort to prayer in Hebrew when we are not in the presence of the sick person.

Behind The Name On The Cover: Jerome Schottenstein And His Sponsorship Of The ArtScroll Talmud

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

With memories of the Siyum HaShas still fresh in people’s minds, many Jews around the world have been purchasing a Tractate Berachot in order to take part in the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi, the daily study of one daf of Talmud Bavli.

Over the past few decades many tools have been developed to ease and encourage Talmud study. One of the most popular is the Schottenstein Talmud Bavli, a translated and elucidated edition of the Talmud published by ArtScroll.

The dream of making the entire Talmud accessible to English readers began in the mid-1980s. ArtScroll had already translated many classic Jewish works, including commentaries on the Bible, the Mishnah, and in-depth volumes on the Jewish holidays.

Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz, co-founder of ArtScroll, described a monumental leap forward for the Jewish publishing house that occurred in 1982: “Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt”l, met with Rabbi Nosson Scherman and me and smilingly asked when we would begin elucidating the Talmud. We were taken aback. The Talmud? Such a mammoth undertaking? Could we even consider such an awesome project? Was the rosh yeshiva serious? He was serious. He said, ‘You should do it and you will do it, and if Hashem grants me years, when the time comes I will give you a letter stating my approval.’ ” Soon afterward, a team of more than sixty scholars was assembled to launch what would be a fifteen-year project. Apart from the core translation work, the authors were challenged to write a detailed commentary, replete with sources, questions and answers, and references for further research. Budget estimates for the project were daunting – upward of $21 million to produce the 73-volume set.

Early after the project launch, the ArtScroll founders were introduced to Columbus, Ohio, businessman and philanthropist Jerome Schottenstein.

“The Schottenstein family has historically been characterized by a remarkable love for Torah,” said Rabbi Nosson Scherman, ArtScroll’s general editor. “They’ve viewed the perpetuation of Orthodox life as a first priority.”

Born in 1926 to Ephraim and Anna Schottenstein, Jerome Schottenstein entered his father’s business, Schottenstein Stores Corp. (SSC), going on to found the Value City chain of furniture stores. (Years later, under the leadership of Jerome’s son Jay, SCC would become a holding company for its stakes in such familiar names as DSW, American Signature Furniture, and American Eagle Outfitters.)

For decades, Schottenstein and his wife, Geraldine, were known for helping found the Columbus Ohio Jewish day-school system and numerous other Jewish organizations. Jerome became a member of Yeshiva University’s board of trustees in 1980.

Upon learning of ArtScroll’s Talmud project, Schottenstein agreed to dedicate the first volume of Tractate Eruvin. ArtScroll had already achieved wide recognition for opening up Torah learning to a new generation of Jews who had, up to then, been locked out by the language barrier. Schottenstein resolved to underwrite the entire 73-volume project as a heritage gift to present and future generations of Jews.

Jerome Schottenstein passed away in 1992 and was able to witness the completion of only the first several volumes of the project. After his death, the project was continued by Schottenstein’s children, Ann, Susie, Lori, and Jay.

Jay Schottenstein joined the family’s Schottenstein Stores Corporation to work alongside his father, taking charge of the business after his father’s passing. Continuing the family tradition of enriching Jewish life around the world, he and his wife, Jeanie, have dedicated numerous ArtScroll projects, such as the Hebrew edition of the ArtScroll Talmud, Perek Shirah, the Schottenstein Interlinear series, and the long-anticipated iPad digital edition of the Schottenstein Talmud Bavli.

Jay and Jeanie also assumed the major sponsorship of the ArtScroll Talmud Yerushalmi.

“Other than being the source of some obscure quotes sprinkled throughout Jewish sources,” Rabbi Scherman noted, “the Talmud Yerushalmi was a forgotten study for over 1,600 years.”

Rabbi Zlotowitz explained that the terse and enigmatic vernacular of the Yerushalmi made it accessible only to the accomplished scholar. “In a generation where there is an accelerating uptick in serious Torah learning, the masses can now plumb this amazing classic,” he said.

“The Schottensteins are preserving and propagating yet another incalculable gift to the Jewish people.”

Rabbi Scherman, recalling conversations with leading roshei yeshivot of the 1980s, said, “The Talmud is the neshamah [soul] of Klal Yisrael, the key to its survival. It couldn’t be woodenly translated. It had to be elucidated – clarified, illuminated, explained, and expounded. Each tractate cover declares that it’s an annotated, interpretive elucidation. Jerome Schottenstein understood the operational implications of doing it this way – and he stood behind each difficult step of the development.”

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part XIV)

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Question: What should the chazzan do when he reaches Kedushah and Modim? 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, 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
(Via E-Mail)

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 Hashanah 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.

The tefillah of Modim within the Amidah is so important that Berachot 21b instructs one who arrives late to begin praying only if he will conclude before the chazzan reaches Modim. Tosafot explain that one must bow with the congregation at Modim in order that one not appear as a denier of G-d to whom the congregation is praying (see Rabbenu Tam, Tosafot s.v. “ad sh’lo yagia…” Berachot 21b).

Rabbi Soloveitchik (as cited in Nefesh Horav by Rabbi Herschel Schachter, p. 128-129) notes that the congregation must listen to Modim of the chazzan and compares the question of what congregants should do during Modim to the question of what congregants should do during Birkat Kohanim, as discussed in Sotah 39b-40a. Rabbi Soloveitchick suggested that the chazzan recite the beginning of Modim out loud, pause for the congregants’ Modim D’Rabbanan, and then continue with his Modim blessing out loud.

Birkat Kohanim is part of chazaras hashatz but is said by kohanim (unless none are present in which case the chazzan says it). One prayer recited during Birkat Kohanim is “Ribono shel olam,” which the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 130:1, citing Berachot 55b) states should be said by anyone who has a dream which he doesn’t understand. The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 128:58) says this prayer should be recited while the kohanim are melodiously drawing out the last word of each verse.

He and the Aruch Hashulchan also discuss saying the “Adir bamarom” prayer at this time. The Aruch Hashulchan, clarifying Berachot 55b, explains that someone who cannot complete “Ribono shel olam” in time should say the shorter “Adir Bamarom,” while Taz and Magen Avraham say the shorter prayer is recited after the longer, time permitting. The Aruch Hashulchan concludes, based on the Rif and Rosh that the congregation should say “Adir Bamarom” during the drawn-out last word.

During Birkat Kohanim, the kohanim should look downward so as not to interrupt their concentration. The congregation should likewise concentrate and face, but do not to gaze upon, the kohanim, who customarily spread out a tallit over their heads. Some also cover their hands (see Rema, Bet Yosef, and Tur, Orach Chayim 128:23). The Mechaber (128:24, citing Sotah 38b) writes that people standing behind the kohanim are not included in their blessing.

* * * * *

The Mishnah Berurah (to Orach Chayim 128:24) in his Bi’ur Halacha commentary (s.v. “afilu mechitza shel barzel…”) cites Elyah Rabbah, who mentions the ruling (in Orach Chayim 55:20) that there can be no separation between the person saying and the person responding to Kaddish and Kedushah. The Elyah Rabbah asserts that the same rule should apply to Birkat Kohanim. If a wall separates people from the kohanim, those beyond the wall should not be included in the berachah.

The Mishnah Berurah, however, cites Sefer Ha’Eshkol which states that the law is different for Birkat Kohanim regarding people in the fields and have no need to answer “Amen” to the berachah. What, then, is the basis of the Elyah Rabbah’s opinion that the standard rule of separation does apply to Birkat Kohanim? The Mishnah Berurah speculates that perhaps the Elyah Rabbah was referring to a case where people were either in the synagogue’s courtyard or outside but quite close to the synagogue. These people are too close to the synagogue to be considered anusim and faultless and therefore are not included in Birkat Kohanim.

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part XIII)

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shemoneh 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
(Via E-Mail)

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 Hashanah 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.

The tefillah of Modim within the Amidah is so important that Berachot 21b instructs one who arrives late to begin praying only if he will conclude before the chazzan reaches Modim. Tosafot explain that one must bow with the congregation at Modim in order that one not appear as a denier of G-d to whom the congregation is praying (see Rabbenu Tam, Tosafot s.v. “ad sh’lo yagia…” Berachot 21b).

Rabbi Soloveitchik (as cited in Nefesh Horav by Rabbi Herschel Schachter, p. 128-129) notes that the congregation must listen to Modim of the chazzan and compares the question of what congregants should do during Modim to the question of what congregants should do during Birkat Kohanim, as discussed in Sotah 39b-40a. Rabbi Soloveitchick suggested that the chazzan recite the beginning of Modim out loud, pause for the congregants’ Modim D’Rabbanan, and then continue with his Modim blessing out loud.

Birkat Kohanim is part of chazaras hashatz but is said by kohanim (unless none are present in which case the chazzan says it). One prayer recited during Birkat Kohanim is “Ribono shel olam,” which the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 130:1, citing Berachot 55b) states should be said by anyone who has a dream which he doesn’t understand. The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 128:58) says this prayer should be recited while the kohanim are melodiously drawing out the last word of each verse. He and the Aruch Hashulchan also discuss saying the “Adir bamarom” prayer at this time.

Now we turn to an important matter that relates to the actual procedure of Nesiat Kappayim.

* * * * *

The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 128:23) states: “When [the kohanim] bless the people, they should not to look [about] and should not interrupt their concentration. Rather, they should look downward just as they do when in the midst of prayer. The congregation [as well] should concentrate on the blessing as they and the kohanim face each other and they should [take care] not to gaze upon the kohanim.”

The Rema (in his glosses, ad loc., citing the Bet Yosef in his longer commentary to the Tur) adds: “The kohanim should also gaze upon their own hands [when duchaning]. Therefore, it has become the custom for the kohanim to spread out the tallit over their faces with their hands outstretched from under the tallit. The Rema also notes that there are places where the kohanim keep their hands under the tallit so that the congregation not gaze upon them.”

The Mishnah Berurah (op cit. 128:89-92) explains that a momentary gaze is technically permitted. Only when the Holy Temple stood, when the kohanim would bless using the shem ha’meforash, and the shechinah was upon them, was there a prohibition to gaze even for a moment. Nevertheless, it has become the custom not to gaze upon the kohanim even nowadays as a remembrance of former times when we possessed the Holy Temple. Just like the congregation shouldn’t look at the kohanim, so too the kohanim should not to gaze upon the congregation as it will interrupt their concentration. Citing the Darkei Moshe (the Rema’s short commentary to the Tur), the Mishnah Berurah notes our present custom of people covering their faces with the tallit to avoid looking at the kohanim.

FF Syndrome: Frequent = Forgotten

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Vacation!

Seems to be a synonym for summer, sunshine, and the understandable inability to sit in the office or home when the world outside looks so much nicer, and the year-long fatigue and stress feels so heavy.

Being no different than the common man, I too went on vacation this summer, for a weeklong adventure with my wife and kids. In order to really “shut-down,” I decided years ago to put everything in place….so that my cell would remain off the entire week, and I could take a neder [vow] that I would not look at my email till the vacation would come to it’s inevitable end. I wanted to totally “relax,” and thus become unconnected, if even for just a few days.

Not having to run to respond to calls or messages, one’s mind and heart can actually think about aspects of life that are usually (and perhaps unfortunately) not on the agenda. So, allow me to share one such experience from the above “technology free” escapade.

If you’re not traveling, it’s safe to assume that you see your family each day. And yet, while frequently looking at them, hearing them and even giving them a hug before bed, how many of us actually speak to them?

How many of us actually acknowledge their existence, know what they’re going through, what experiences they endured (for better or for worse) and how they’re feeling (and not just physically)?

On the other hand, take the very same questions and ask them about…your work. I think it’s safe to submit that anything you’re responsible for at your workplace, you know about! If you are not updated on changes or glitches, you would be rather annoyed at yourself or those under you. You are on top of every incoming email,have  returned every message in your voice mail, and have an organized schedule to attempt to meet all the objectives and requirements of the job.

So why isn’t that true at home?

Perhaps this known scene, from one of the most known Jewish movies of all time, might be able to shed a bit of light on this quagmire;

Tevye: …Do you love me?

Golde: Do I what?

Tevye: Do you love me?

Golde: Do I love you? With our daughters getting married And this trouble in the town You’re upset, you’re worn out Go inside, go lie down! Maybe it’s indigestion

Tevye: Golde I’m asking you a question… Do you love me?

Golde: You’re a fool

Tevye: I know… But do you love me?

Golde: Do I love you? For twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothes Cooked your meals, cleaned your house Given you children, milked the cow After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?

Tevye: Golde, The first time I met you Was on our wedding day I was scared

Golde: I was shy

Tevye: I was nervous

Golde: So was I

Tevye: But my father and my mother Said we’d learn to love each other And now I’m asking, Golde Do you love me?

Golde: I’m your wife

Tevye: “I know…” But do you love me?

Golde: Do I love him? For twenty-five years I’ve lived with him Fought him, starved with him Twenty-five years my bed is his If that’s not love, what is?

Tevye: Then you love me?

Golde: I suppose I do

Tevye: And I suppose I love you too

Both: It doesn’t change a thing But even so After twenty-five years It’s nice to know

[Lyrics taken from http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/fiddlerontheroof/doyouloveme.htm]

After this week of vacation, I’d like to submit that anything Frequent in our life tends be Forgotten! Something we see every day does not rank high on our list of concerns, and therefore, we just naturally forget about it.

It takes a step back, a trip away, in order for us to actually acknowledge those we see day in and day out. It’s incumbent upon any husband/wife or parent to not only support their family, insure a roof over their heads and food in their refrigerator, but to speak to them, joke with them, and insure that you know what’s happening in their world.

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part XII)

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shemoneh 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
(Via E-Mail)

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 Hashanah 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.

The tefillah of Modim within the Amidah 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. Tosafot explain that one must bow with the congregation at Modim in order that one not appear as a denier of G-d to whom the congregation is praying (see Rabbenu Tam, Tosafot s.v. “ad sh’lo yagia…” Berachot 21b).

Rabbi Soloveitchik (as cited in Nefesh Horav by Rabbi Herschel Schachter, p. 128-129) notes that the congregation must listen to Modim of the chazzan and compares the question of what congregants should do during Modim to the question of what congregants should do during Birkat Kohanim, as discussed in Sotah 39b-40a. Rabbi Soloveitchick suggested that the chazzan recite the beginning of Modim out loud, pause for the congregants’ Modim D’Rabbanan, and then continue with his Modim blessing out loud.

Birkat Kohanim is part of chazaras hashatz but is said by kohanim (unless none are present in which case the chazzan says it). One prayer recited during Birkat Kohanim is “Ribono shel olam,” which the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 130:1, citing Berachot 55b) states should be said by anyone who has a dream which he doesn’t understand. The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 128:58) says this prayer should be recited while the kohanim are melodiously drawing out the last word of each verse.

* * * * *

The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 130:1) writes of an additional prayer, “Adir bamarom –You are majestic on high,” that is proper for congregations to recite during the kohanim’s melodious extension of the final word of the Birkat Kohanim blessing. Of course, one should only recite this prayer if one will finish it in time to say “Amen” to the blessing. Is “Adir bamarom” an additional prayer to “Ribono shel olam”? Or is it a replacement prayer? The Gemara (Berachot 55b) states, “If, however, he cannot [complete “Ribono shel olam” in time] he should say this, “Adir bamarom.”

The Aruch Hashulchan (Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein, the chief rabbi of Navardok) understands this Gemara simply – that “Adir bamarom” replaces “Ribono shel olam.” However, he notes that authorities like the Taz and Magen Avraham interpret the Gemara differently and write, “If, however, [the kohanim] have still not concluded, [the individual congregant] should also say “Adir bamarom.”

Rabbi Epstein, citing Elyah Rabbah in the name of Agudah (whose view coincides with the Aruch Hashulchan) writes that that when there is little time, one may substitute the shorter “Adir bamarom” for the longer “Ribono shel olam.” Yet, he concludes (infra. sk3): “Our custom is that when the kohanim [conclude and] turn away their faces, all say “Adir bamarom,” even though this seems to be inconsistent with the Gemara’s text, as our custom is based upon the amended texts of both the Rif and Rosh.”

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part XI)

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shemoneh 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
(Via E-Mail)

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 Hashanah 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.

The tefillah of Modim within the Amidah 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. 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).

Rabbi Soloveitchik (as cited in Nefesh Horav by Rabbi Herschel Schachter, p. 128-129) notes that the congregation must listen to Modim of the chazzan and compares the question of what congregants should do during Modim to the question of what congregants should do during Birkat Kohanim, as discussed in Sotah 39b-40a. Rabbi Soloveitchick suggested that the chazzan recite the beginning of Modim out loud, pause for the congregants’ Modim D’Rabbanan, and then continue with his Modim blessing out loud.

Birkat Kohanim is part of chazaras hashatz but is said by kohanim (unless none are present in which case the chazzan says it). One prayer recited during Birkat Kohanim is “Ribono shel olam,” which the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 130:1, citing Berachot 55b) states should be said by anyone who has a dream which he doesn’t understand.

* * * * *

The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 128:58) notes that the accepted procedure during Birkat Kohanim is for the kohanim to draw out the concluding word of each of its three verses – “ve’yishmerecha,” “v’ychuneka,” and “shalom” – because each verse represents a separate blessing. It is proper for those in the congregation who say “Ribono shel olam” to do so while the kohanim are melodiously drawing out the last word of each verse.

The Shulchan Aruch Harav notes that the refuah one derives from saying “Ribono shel olam” is only effective if said during Birkat Kohanim. And yet, as long as the kohanim have not fully articulated that last word of each verse, it would seem that Birkat Kohanim is still in process, and the halacha is that the congregation must listen attentively to what the kohanim are saying during Birkat Kohanim and cannot speak or even recite another prayer. How, then, can one ever say the “Ribono shel olam” prayer?

The Shulchan Aruch Harav answers that when the kohanim reach the concluding word of each verse, that blessing is considered complete insofar as the congregation’s requirement to listen and concentrate on their words. Since, however, the congregation has not yet responded with “Amen” to the blessing (since the kohanim are still in midst of melodiously chanting the last word), the blessing is not considered fully complete and one can say the “Ribono shel olam” prayer.

The Shulchan Aruch Harav notes that only the congregation should recite “Ribono shel olam,” not the makreh (the one leading the kohanim), since he will be distracted and confused if he does so. A chazzan serving as the makreh should not recite “Ribono shel olam” because he will also be making a hefsek in his tefillah if he does.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-chazzan-and-congregation-part-xi/2012/08/09/

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