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Q In the shul where I am gabbai, there are a few parts of chazarat hashatz (= chaz/hash; repetition of Shmoneh Esrei) where we sing along with the chazan, sometimes a few words and occasionally an entire section. A member of the community complained that it prevents him from hearing the chazan, as he should. Should I step in?
A Public policy matters, certainly in regard to running the tefila, are the local rabbi's domain. In this response we assume that either your shul does not have a rav or you want to know whether or how to bring up the matter to him.
The Tur (Orach Chayim 124) cites the Rosh, who strongly opposed those who recite chaz/hash along with the chazan, for a few reasons. Most of his concerns do not apply (or apply less) in this case, but one main, possible issue may remain (the Rosh's opinion seems to be in dispute). Let us address the Rosh's issues.
Issue 1 - If one says chaz/hash along with the chazan, he is making berachot l'vatala, as he has already said his own Shemoneh Esrei. In our case, congregants recite only sections or words and do not recite the beracha part (see Beit Yosef, ad loc.). The fear that they might continue on to the beracha's conclusion (see Shaarei Teshuva, 124:7) does not apply, assuming there is a standard procedure for singing along in your shul and people never continue on to the beracha.
Issue 2 - By singing along, the person does not get to say "amen," which he is not allowed to say right after he himself makes the same beracha. This too does not apply in our case.
Issue 3 - It is haughty (Mishna Berura 124:16) and lightheaded to sing along out loud. This applies when the chazan is accompanied by a self-appointed assistant(s). However, when the congregation finds it uplifting to sing sections together, it need not be haughty or lightheaded.
Issue 4 - The Mishna Berura (124:18) and Igrot Moshe (OC IV, 19) understand that the requirement that nine people listen to chaz/hash (see also Nefesh Harav, pg. 126) applies not only to the end of each beracha but to its entirety. (The Perisha does not mention this as one of the Rosh's concerns, but he may refer to a case where many others were listening quietly and could hear the chazan.) One might want to claim that since shomei'a k'oneh (one who hears is as if he recites) one can hear part of the chaz/hash from the chazan and hear other parts from others. We do find that when a chazan is unable to continue, we allow someone else to continue (Shulchan Aruch, OC 126:2), so one can fulfill chaz/hash (b'dieved) with multiple chazanim. However, that is only in between berachot. If chazanim change in the middle of a beracha, the new one must start at the beginning of the beracha (ibid.) even if he had been listening to every word until that point (see Mishna Berura 126:8). So, two cannot share one beracha. Furthermore, there is a problem concentrating on words that a group recites in unison (Shulchan Aruch, OC 141:2).
There are a few ways to deal with this problem. Firstly, when only a few words are sung together, the words that are not heard properly usually do not disqualify the beracha (see Mishna Berura 126:10). Even in critical sections, if the congregation only provides some background voices, then there will be nine (if not many more) who hear the chazan clearly enough to fulfill the requirements of chaz/hash. When the congregation drowns out the chazan on entire sections of the tefilla, it is proper for him to wait to recite that section after things quiet down.
Let's put things in perspective. From a purist's approach, it is best for everyone to listen silently to the chazan with great concentration. But we must be realistic. Practically, in most of our shuls, joint singing adds a lot to the atmosphere and increases concentration. Therefore, trying to prevent it is not only unfeasible but is probably counterproductive in regard to the atmosphere necessary to keep our shuls inviting, vibrant and focused.
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In the context of this dismal situation, the Torah introduces us to Moshe Rabeinu. In the very first prophecy to this Father of Prophets, G-d tells him that He will go into Egypt and take the people out OF Egypt... TO BRING US TO A GOOD AND EXPANSIVE LAND, A LAND FLOWING WITH MILK AND HONEY... to bring us to Eretz Yisrael. Yes, Eretz Yisrael was a promise to the Avot, for them and their descendants, but for us, Eretz Yisrael is the reason for our redemption from Egypt, the reason for our existence as a nation.
G-d's plan, stated right up front, so to speak, was not merely to free us from Egyptian bondage and oppression. His Plan was to take us from there, give us the Torah, and bring us to Eretz Yisrael.
If we believe in the G-d Who said, "I am the Lord your G-d Who took you out of Egypt...", then we must also believe that He wants us in Eretz Yisrael.
We have caused interruptions in His Plan for us by behaving in such ways that brought about the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash (first and second). We have the opportunity in our own time to strengthen our commitment to Torah and Eretz Yisrael and do our share in bringing about the Geula Sh'leima.
Phil Chernofsky, Jerusalem
The dunnart burrows in the ground, lives
under rocks, or builds nests of leaves and grass in sheltered places
such as hollow logs... Females breed year round, producing
successive litters of up to ten young each time. Gestation is only
13-16 days... 10-18 different species of dunnart... a 1-day old
dunnart in pouch is as big as a 1/2 CM
It seems that the first generation of slaves in Egypt took building cities for Pharaoh in their stride, for, "as much as they would afflict it [the people], so they would increase and spread out" (Shmot 1:12). But, as the decrees got worse, civil disobedience began, as the Jewish midwives defied their tormentors.
However, it took 116 years of servitude and 86 years of backbreaking oppression before the groans of the people reached G-d, as it were. At first, the Ohr Hachayim notes that the cry (Na'akatam) was one of despair, not prayer. Later, G-d tells Moshe that He heard the outcry - Tza'akatam - of [all] the Children of Israel.The strength of this term lies in its collective nature, which the Sforno renders as a true reaching out to G-d and which Ibn Ezra describes as Teshuva, repentance.
In all, five terms of outpouring of the heart describe the intensity of the people's reaction to their oppressors, each, it seems, more directed to Hashem as the servitude increased. We thus learn not only of the importance of crying out against injustice but also of directing our prayer so that, like in the days of old, Hashem will "hear" and "know" (ibid 2:24-25). Perhaps we could also learn the urgency of prayer now rather than when we are desperate.
Shabbat Shalom, Menachem Persoff