Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Silent Chazzan

Question: I was the chazzan for shacharis at a different shul to which I usually attend, and the Rabbi told me that I shouldn’t have ended the beracha go’al yisrael before amida quietly. Why is this?
Answer: The Gemara (Berachos 4b; 9b; 42a) writes that one should ensure to make no interruption between the berachos after shema and the amida, especially during shacharis (Rashi Berachos 4b). One who is particular to do so will be protected that day from harm (See Shulchan Aruch OC 66:8; 111:1; 236:2).
While the Shulchan Aruch (OC 66:7; 111:1) writes that one shouldn’t answer amen to go’al yisrael as it is a hefsek, unnecessary interruption, the Rema doesn’t consider it to be a hefsek and writes that one should answer amen to the chazzan’s beracha. The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 66:14) writes that the minhag is to follow the Shulchan Aruch and avoid saying amen.
In order to avoid this questionable safek, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 66:15) and Mishnah Berura (66:35) write that one should aim to finish the beracha of go’al yisrael together with the chazzan, thereby exempting oneself from responding at all.
While R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:71; 6:42:1) explains the rationale behind the common practice for many chazzanim to end this beracha quietly, most poskim decry it.
R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Tefilla 7:17) notes that throughout the discussion among the poskim as to whether to say amen, they didn’t propose saying it quietly.
R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:105) writes that if the chazzan doesn’t end this beracha loudly, he is preventing those at other points in davening from saying amen. He demonstrates that this follows Rambam, too (Tefilla 9:1).
R’ Yosef Eliyahu Henkin often spoke out against this practice. Thus, in his Ezras Torah calendar, it is written that according to R’ Henkin, ‘a chazzan who says the ending of go’al yisrael in an inaudible voice, is violating the Talmud’s ruling. Therefore it is a mitzvah to correct this matter, and to insist that the chazzan begin yotzer ohr and conclude go’al yisrael in an audible voice.’

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