The Repetition of Shemoneh Esrei (Part II)

  • Rav David Brofsky



     Last week, we opened our discussion of the rabbinic institution of Chazarat Ha-shatz, the repetition by the cantor (sheliach tzibbur,abbreviated shatz) of the Shemoneh Esrei on behalf of the tzibbur (congregation).  We investigated its purpose, its relevance and its applicability nowadays.  This week, we will explore the extent and nature of the congregation's participation in this repetition.


Definition of a Tzibbur for Kaddish and Kedusha:


     The Mishna (Megilla 4:3) teaches: "One does not perform the communal reading of the Shema and one does not have communal prayer... with less than ten."  While the recitation of Shema and Shemoneh Esrei is binding on an individual basis, a quorum (minyan) of ten adult males, is required for certain prayers, such as Kaddish, which concludes each section of a service; Barekhu, which introduces the blessings of the Shema; and Kedusha, our recitation of the angels' praises in the third blessing of Chazarat Ha-shatz.


     Furthermore, the Gemara (ibid. 23b) teaches:


From where do we know this?  Rabbi Chiyya bar Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: "As the verse says: 'I will be sanctified among the children of Israel' (Vayikra 22:32), every davar she-bikdusha (matter of holiness) cannot be with less than ten."

How is this derived?  As Rabbi Chiyya said, "We draw an analogy between two occurrences of the word 'among.'  It is written here, 'I will be sanctified among the children of Israel,' and it is written there (Bamidbar 16:21): 'Separate yourselves from among this congregation.'  Then we draw an analogy between two occurrences of the word 'congregation,' for it says there (ibid. 14:27): 'Until when must this evil congregation be?' — just as in that case it refers to ten [scouts who defamed the land], so too here it refers to ten."


     While these sources point to the minimum requirement of TEN, they do not indicate whether these ten are actually participating in the prayers.  How many men who have NOT prayed or heard the davar (plural, devarim) she-bikdusha are required in order to recite Kaddish, Barakhu and Kedusha?


     Tosafot (Megilla 23b, s.v. Ve-ein) cite a number of opinions on this issue.  Rabbeinu Tam, for example, quotes "our rabbis in the West," in the post-Talmudic minor tractate Soferim (10:6), that as long as seven have not participated, one may recite Kaddish, Barekhu and Kedusha for them.  They then bring other views, which require only six, five, or even three! Finally, they cite the students of Rashi, who quote Rashi as permitting even for one!


     Interestingly, the Acharonim question whether these Rishonim are referring to one, six or seven people who have NOT PRAYED, or who have NOT HEARD Kaddish and Kedusha?  The Magen Avraham (OC 69:4) cites the Radbaz (4:241), who writes that if they have prayed individually but have yet to hear Kaddish, the "obligation of Kaddish and Kedusha is lifted from them," similar to three who have eaten and already participated in a zimmun (invitation to the Grace After Meals) who can no longer recite the zimmun, as the "obligation of zimmun is lifted from them" (Berakhot 50b).


     Apparently, as pointed out by Rabbi Yechezkel Landau (1713-1793) in his Dagul Me-rvava, as well as Rabbi Akiva Eger (1761-1837) in his comments to Orach Chayyim, the Shulchan Arukh (OC 69:1) apparently disagrees and allows one to say Kaddish and Kedusha even for those who have already prayed individually.


     One might suggest that they disagree as to whether Kaddish and Kedusha are inherently connected to one's tefilla be-tzibbur (communal prayer) or constitute a separate obligation.  In other words, while the Radbaz maintains that Kaddish and Kedusha must be part of one's tefilla be-tzibbur, others view them as an independent obligation.  Alternatively, they may disagree as to whether the obligation to participate in Kaddish and Kedusha warrants reciting a seemingly superfluous Shemoneh Esrei or not.  The Chatam Sofer (OC 19) suggests another explanation.


     In any case, the Shulchan Arukh (69:1) rules:


If there are people who have each prayed alone, but have not heard Kaddish and Kedusha, one should stand up and say Kaddish, Barekhu… and Kedusha…  This is only done in the presence of ten, as it is considered to be devarim she-bikdusha.  One should strive to find at least six, a majority of ten, who have not heard; if they are not available, even for one who has yet to hear [one may recite Kaddish, Barekhu and Kedusha].


How Many People Who Have NOT Prayed are Required for Chazarat Ha-shatz?


     May we apply the same principle to the entire Chazarat Ha-shatz?  In other words, when necessary, may one recite Chazarat Ha-shatz even for one person (according to Rashi) who has not yet heard Kedusha?  On the one hand, we might view Chazarat Ha-shatz as an ordinary davar she-bikdusha, which one may recite, according to Rashi, even for one!  On the other hand, Chazarat Ha-shatz might require all, or at least a majority, of the minyan to participate in order to define it as a tefillat ha-tzibbur — a prayer of the community, not just in the community.


     In his Darkhei Moshe (69), the Rema cites the Mahari Mintz, who distinguishes between Kaddish, Barekhu and Kedusha, on the one hand, and Chazarat Ha-shatz, on the other.  He insists that Chazarat Ha-shatz may only be recited for TEN who have NOT yet prayed.  Similarly, the Rambam (Hilkhot Tefilla 8:4) writes that one may recite Chazarat Ha-shatz as long as "the majority of ten have not prayed…"


     The Magen Avraham (69:4) also discusses this issue and questions whether those who allow reciting devarim she-bikdusha in a minyan for one person who has not heard them would ALSO permit reciting the ENTIRE Chazarat Ha-shatz for one.  While he cites those who would allow it, he concludes that if there are less than six, they should omit their silent Shemoneh Esrei, and the shaliach tzibbur should recite the first three berakhot and Kedusha, after which they complete their prayer silently.  However, for six, i.e. a majority of a minyan, one may recite the entire Chazarat Ha-shatz.  Apparently the Magen Avraham (see also Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav 69:5) understands that in order to recite a tefillat ha-tzibbur, one must represent at least a majority of the tzibbur.


Definition of Tefilla Be-tzibbur:


     Incidentally, one might ask, regarding the definition of tefilla be-tzibbur: do we consider one who prays with five who have not yet prayed, accompanied by four others, to be praying be-tzibbur?  On the one hand, one might deduce from the Magen Avraham and Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav, that we consider prayer with a majority of a minyan who has not yet prayed to be tefilla be-tzibbur; Rav Ovadya Yosef (Yechavveh Da'at 5:7) strongly supports this view.  On the other hand, one might suggest that tefilla be-tzibbur refers specifically to a quorum reciting Shemoneh Esrei in unison.


     Similarly, the Chayyei Adam (19:1) writes: 


The essence of tefilla be-tzibbur is Shemoneh Esrei, that ten adult men should pray in unison; it is not like the masses think that tefilla be-tzibbur is only in order to hear Kaddish, Kedusha and Barekhu, which leads them to neglect praying TOGETHER, as long as there are ten in the synagogue — and that is a great mistake.


     Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, in his Iggerot Moshe (1:28-9), discusses the definition of tefilla be-tzibbur.  Interestingly, he notes the ruling in Hilkhot Tefilla 8:4, where the Rambam implies that the essence of tefilla be-tzibbur is participating in Chazarat Ha-shatz, not necessarily praying with a quorum in unison.  However, he concludes, like the Chayyei Adam, that only prayer recited WITH a minyan can be considered tefilla be-tzibbur.


     While we are on the subject, allow me to mention one more question relevant to our discussion: does one who recites his Shemoneh Esrei with the shaliach tzibbur, during Chazarat Ha-shatz, fulfill tefilla be-tzibbur?  This question may have practical halakhic ramifications.  For example, while one may abridge, or even omit, certain prayers in order to pray with the tzibbur, may one do so even to pray with the shaliach tzibbur?


     Abraham David ben Asher Anshel Wahrman (1770-1840), in his Eshel Avraham Butshatsh (62); the Chatam Sofer (Liktei Teshuvot 4); and a host of other Acharonim cited by, and including, Rav Ovadya Yosef (Yechavveh Da'at 5:7) view tefilla recited with Chazarat Ha-shatz as tefilla be-tzibbur.  The Peri Megadim (62 and 109) and Rav Moshe Feinstein (OC 3:9) disagree, as the sole function of Chazarat Ha-shatz is to fulfill the obligation of prayer for those unable to do so alone. 


     Finally, as we mentioned last week, Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt"l, distinguishes between tefilla be-tzibbur and tefillat ha-tzibbur.  Seemingly, praying WITH the tefillat ha-tzibbur should be considerably better than praying alone, possibly akin to tefilla be-tzibbur.


How Many Listeners are Required for Chazarat Ha-shatz?


     Returning to our topic, even if we require at least six people who have yet to pray in order to recite the entire repetition, must all ten answer to every berakha of Chazarat Ha-shatz


     The Rosh (Teshuvot Ha-Rosh 4:19) writes:


The congregation should be quiet, focus on the berakhot and answer "Amen."  If there are not at least nine in the synagogue who are paying attention to the berakhot of the shaliach tzibbur, it seems as if ("karov hu be-einai") that the berakhot of the shaliach tzibbur are being said in vain, since the berakhot were instituted for the shaliach tzibbur to say among ten, and if there are not nine in the synagogue who are paying attention, it seems like a berakha le-vattala (in vain).


     The Rosh seems to require that at least nine people respond to each berakha.  Therefore, one who is unable to answer — and certainly one who is talking, or even sleeping (!) — would NOT count towards the ten needed to respond during Chazarat Ha-shatz.  Similarly, as we learned last week, the Rambam justifies his partial abolishment of Chazarat Ha-shatz by insisting that a tefilla recited while the congregation engages in idle chatter is "almost le-vattala.


     The Maharam of Rotenberg, cited by the Hagahot Maimoniyyot (Hilkhot Tefilla 8, Tet) disagrees.  He explains:


Even if one of the ten has begun to pray and cannot answer with them, and there are not nine who can answer… he joins them, and this is considered "I will be sanctified among the children of Israel."  Upon every ten the Shekhina (Divine Presence) rests, and this can be no worse that [the opinion which maintains that] even an infant in a bassinet can join [a minyan]…  Even those who argue do so [only] because [the infant] does not understand for Whom they are reciting berakhot, and he is not obligated in mitzvot.


     Interestingly, the Beit Yosef (55) cites his teacher, Rabbi Yaakov Bei Rav (1474-1546), who deduces that even one who is sleeping may count towards a minyan in order to recite Kaddish and Kedusha, and he recommends relying upon his opinion.  Furthermore, in Orach Chayyim (64:6), he rules in accordance with his teacher.


     The Taz (4) and the Peri Chadash disagree, and they distinguish between someone who is awake yet unable to answer and one who is asleep.  One who is asleep, they claim, does not cause "holiness to rest upon them," and he would not fulfill the Maharam's criterion to continue the repetition.  The Bi'ur Halakha concludes that while one may rely upon the Shulchan Arukh when saying Kaddish and Kedusha, one should NOT rely upon this opinion when reciting the entire repetition.


     The Acharonim debate the final halakha.  On the one hand, the Magen Avraham (55:8) cites the Maharil who writes that despite the ruling of the Rosh, it is customary to include even those who chat during Chazarat Ha-shatz in a minyan.  On the other hand, the Taz (55:4; see 124:4 regarding someone who is deaf) rules in accordance with the Rosh and excludes one who does not answer, regardless of whether he is deaf, sleeping or chatting. 


     Interestingly, while the Shulchan Arukh (55:6) rules in one place like the Maharam, including one who is still praying — and even sleeping (!) — for Chazarat Ha-shatz, elsewhere (124:4) he cites the Rosh, who insists that if there not at least nine paying attention, "it seems as if (karov hu be-einai) that the berakhot of the shaliach tzibbur are being said in vain!" Some Acharonim attempt to resolve this apparent contradiction.  The Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav (55:7), for example, distinguishes between Kaddish, referred to in chapter 55, regarding which Halakha merely requires the presence of a quorum, and Chazarat Ha-shatz, referred to in chapter 124, regarding which we require ten active participants in order to define it as tefillat ha-tzibbur.  The Arukh Ha-shulchan (55:13) offers another solution.  He suggests that while one who is in the middle of his own Shemoneh Esrei may count towards the ten needed for Chazarat Ha-shatz, one who turns his attention away from the shaliach tzibbur may not be counted among the ten for the repetition.  These two approaches would seem to differ as to whether the shatz may begin the repetition before nine others have concluded their silent Shemoneh Esrei


     Practically, the shaliach tzibbur should preferably wait until there are nine others able (and willing) to answer to his Berakhot.  Rabbi Eli'ezer Waldenberg, zt"l, in his Tzitz Eliezer (12:9), justifies the common practice NOT to wait and to begin Chazarat Ha-shatz while one of the ten in still praying.  Furthermore, the Mishna Berura (124:19), apparently uncomfortable relying upon the lenient opinions, suggests that one declare that if the more stringent opinion is correct, then his tefilla should be a tefillat nedava (freewill or "extra" prayer).


     When praying in a small group, the above consideration may lead one to prefer omitting the silent Shemoneh Esrei, and saying the first three berakhot, with Kedusha, out loud, as we shall discuss (see Arukh Ha-Shulchan 232:7).


What if Some of the Ten Leave the Room?


     The Yerushalmi (Megilla 4:4), cited by the Rif (13b), Tosafot (23b, s.v. Ein), the Rosh (4:7), the Rambam (Hilkhot Tefilla 8:6) and the Shulchan Arukh (55:2), teaches that if a minyan begins to recite a davar she-bikdusha, and some of them leave, those who remain may still conclude that prayer.  The Ran points out that clearly at least six, i.e., a majority (rov), must remain. 


     The Shulchan Arukh (55:2-3) rules that, in Shacharit and Mincha, the morning and afternoon services, if a shaliach tzibbur has begun reciting Kaddish or Kedusha, he may conclude that Kaddish or Kedusha.  Furthermore, even if he just began the repetition of Shemoneh Esrei, he may continue and complete chazarat Ha-shatz.  The Rema adds that he may even continue until the Full Kaddish before Aleinu, although the Torah reading (as well as Birkat Kohanim, the Priests' Blessing) should be omitted. 


     Regarding Tefillat Arvit, the evening service, the Rema concludes that if the congregation is left with less than ten before they begin Shemoneh Esrei, then the Half-Kaddish, which closes the Shema unit, is recited, but not the final Full Kaddish.  However, the Mishna Berura notes that if the congregation has begun the silent Shemoneh Esrei of evening, and they are left with less than ten before the final Kaddish, it may still be recited; on Motzaei Shabbat, both the Half-Kaddish immediately after the Shemoneh Esrei and the Full Kaddish before Aleinu may still be said.  However, concerning Shacharit and Mincha, the Acharonim discuss whether the sheliach tzibbur may recite the Full Kaddish before Aleinu if the congregation began the silent Shemoneh Esrei together and then they were left with less than ten before the shaliach tzibbur began Chazarat Ha-shatz, as we saw regarding Arvit.


     The Noda Bi-Yhuda (7) claims that one should distinguish between Shacharit and Mincha on the one hand and Arvit on the other.  During Shacharit and Mincha, for which the members of the Keneset Ha-gedola instituted Chazarat Ha-shatz, the Kaddish following these prayers relates to Chazarat Ha-shatz.  However, when it comes to Tefillat Arvit, during which there is no Chazarat Ha-shatz, the Full Kaddish relates to the silent Shemoneh Esrei!  The Bi'ur Halakha (s.v. U-tefillat arvit) adopts this position.  Rabbi Akiva Eger challenges this assumption, and the Tehilla Le-David (3) agrees that even if the minyan remained only for the silent Shemoneh Esrei, the Kaddish recited afterwards relates to the silent Shemoneh Esrei and NOT to Chazarat Ha-shatz


     Regarding losing the minyan before the silent Shemoneh Esrei of Arvit, the Acharonim (see Magen Avraham, Taz and Mishna Berura) point out that one should recite the Kaddish BEFORE Shemoneh Esrei, as it concludes the unit begun by Barekhu


The Beginning and Conclusion of Chazarat Ha-shatz:


     The Gemara (Berakhot 9b) teaches us that Shemoneh Esrei should be preceded by the verse (Tehillim 51:17) "Hashem sefatai tiftach," "God, open my lips," and conclude with the verse (ibid. 19:15) "Yihyu le-ratzon imrei fi," "Let the words of my mouth be acceptable." 


     The Gemara (ibid. 4b), questioning why "Hashem sefatai tiftach" does not constitute an interruption between the berakha of "Ga'al Yisrael" and the beginning of Shemoneh Esrei (see regarding this obligation) asks:


Did Rabbi Yochanan not say: "In the beginning [of the tefilla] one has to say: 'Hashem sefatai tiftach,'and at the end one has to say: 'Yihyu le-ratzon imrei fi?'"

Rather, since the rabbis ordained there that "Hashem sefatai tiftach" should be said, it is like a long tefilla.


     In other words, the Gemara teaches that we view the verse which precedes Shemoneh Esrei as an integral part of it.  The Shulchan Arukh (123:6) therefore rules that the shaliach tzibbur should begin Chazarat Ha-shatz from "Hashem sefatai tiftach."  The Magen Avraham (111:4) writes that one should say the verse "be-lachash," in a whisper.


     The Tur (111) writes that some recite additional verses before the Shemoneh Esrei.  He notes that during Shacharit and Arvit, this may constitute an interruption between Ga'al Yisrael and Shemoneh Esrei, and therefore they should only be said before Mincha and Musaf.  Similarly, the Kitzur Shulchan Arukh (18:2) records the custom of reciting "Ki shem Hashem ekra" (Devarim 32:3) before Mincha and Musaf.  The Mishna Berura (111:10) writes that one need not say "Ki shem Hashem" before Chazarat Ha-shatz, although may do so if he wishes. 


     Incidentally, the Machzor Mesorat Ha-Rav Le-Yom Kippur (Rav Menachem Gopin; see also Nefesh Ha-Rav, p. 152), regarding the custom of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt"l, records:


The Rav's custom was not to say the verse "Ki shem Hashem ekra" prior to the Shemoneh Esrei of Mussaf or Mincha, since the practice to recite it is not found anywhere in the Gemara, as noted by the Vilna Gaon in Bi'ur Ha-Gra to Orach Chayyim 111:1.


     Similarly, Rabbi Dr. Seligman Baer Bamberger (1807-1878), the renowned Wuerzburger Rav, omits this verse in his Siddur Avodat Yisrael.


     Regarding the verse which concludes Shemoneh Esrei, "Yihyu le-ratzon," the Rema (123:6) writes that the shaliach tzibbur should not recite it.  The Mishna Berura (20) explains that since the shaliach tzibbur says "Titkabbel tzelotehon" ("Accept our prayers") in the Full Kaddish, there in no need to say "Yihyu le-ratzon" as well.  He adds (21) that the Shela and the Gra insist that the shaliach tzibbur should recite this verse.  The Kitzur Shulchan Arukh (20:7) maintains that just as, according to the Magen Avraham (as cited above), the opening verse should be recited in a whisper, so too should the concluding verse, "Yihyu le-ratzon."



     Next week we will continue our study of Chazarat Ha-shatz.