Halacha for Wednesday 11 Elul 5779 September 11 2019

The Chazzan-The Congregation’s Representative

Question: In the synagogue where we pray, the Gabbaim (synagogue officials) appointed a Chazzan who is not careful regarding Torah and Mitzvah observance to lead the High Holiday prayers. What should we do?

Answer: The Chazzan who leads prayer services in the synagogue acts as the representative and agent of the entire congregation and must transfer the prayers from the congregation to their Father in Heaven. It is for this reason that the Chazzan must be righteous, a man of utmost integrity, and free of any slander, all year long and especially during the Days of Awe (High Holidays).

Seder Rav Amram Gaon (Volume 2, Chapter 55) states: “It was asked before the scholars of the Yeshiva: May a Chazzan about whom well-based, unsavory rumors have emerged be dismissed and replaced with someone else? They replied: Is this a question? Certainly, Halacha dictates that such a person must be dismissed and replaced with someone more suitable, for the individual acting as the intermediary between the Jewish nation and their Father in Heaven must be righteous, upright, and free of any slander. If he is not, our Sages (Ta’anit 16b) have already said that the verse (Yirmeya 12, 8) ‘She has uttered her voice against me, therefore I have hated her’ refers to an unworthy Chazzan who leads the congregation in prayer. All this applies to a Chazzan who leads the prayer during the course of the year; how much more so does this apply to a Chazzan on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and other fast days when there is a greater need for increased supplications and mercy.”

Thus, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l  writes (in his Chazon Ovadia-Yamim Nora’im, page 36) that an individual who transgresses Torah prohibitions, such as shaving with a razor, may not be appointed as Chazzan, even occasionally in honor of the Azkara (Yahrzeit, anniversary of death) of a parent. This is especially true if the individual desecrates the Shabbat; even if one does not desecrate Shabbat out of wickedness, such an individual is nevertheless disqualified from serving as a Chazzan.

If the synagogue officials are not so careful with their Torah observance and have hired or appointed such an individual to serve as Chazzan, one should find another synagogue to pray in during the Days of Awe. Maran zt”l  writes (ibid, page 37) that if one cannot find another synagogue to pray in, it is preferable for each member of the congregation to recite the High Holiday prayer services alone at home as opposed to praying in a synagogue where one who is not Torah and Mitzvah observant serves as Chazzan. The responsibility for the sin of disrupting communal prayer services rests solely upon the shoulders of these synagogue officials.

Although there may be room to judge a Chazzan who is not Torah and Mitzvah observant favorably by claiming that he is not acting out of rebellion or wickedness and merely because he is ignorant or uneducated, he is nevertheless unworthy of serving as a mediator and faithful advocate between the congregants and Hashem. Only if such an individual has repented fully and it is noticeable that his repentance is genuine may such an individual be returned to his position to act as a representative of the congregation before their Father in Heaven.

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of Taking Haircuts During the “Three Weeks"

The Customary Prohibition of Haircuts As a result of the mourning observed during the “Three Weeks,” the Ashkenazi custom is to abstain from shaving and taking haircuts beginning from the Seventeenth of Tammuz until the Tenth of Av. The Sephardic Custom Nevertheless, the Sephardic c......

Read Halacha

Mourning Customs Observed During the “Three Weeks”

---------------------------------- By Popular Request: There is room for leniency regarding listening to music during the "Three Weeks" for those who are in isolation or quarantine in cases of need. This is especially true regarding young children and one must do one's utmost to lif......

Read Halacha

Eating Meat with Fish

Since we have discussed several laws related to eating meat and dairy in the previous days, let us now discuss some laws related to eating fish with either chicken or meat and other related laws. Fish Baked With Meat The Gemara in Masechet Pesachim (76b) states: “Regarding fish that was ba......

Read Halacha

The Prohibition to Eat Meat and Dairy on the Same Table

----------------------------- Correction: There was a typographical error at the end of yesterday's Halacha which stated that the prohibition to take haircuts and shave does not apply this year according to the Sephardic custom. Clearly, this is incorrect and all of the laws of the week durin......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Eating Meat and Dairy on the Same Table-Continued

In the previous Halacha we have explained that it is forbidden to eat dairy foods on a table on which meat foods are placed, for there is concern that the individual eating will taste some of the other foods on the table, thus having transgressed the grave prohibition of eating milk and meat togethe......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Glassware and Pyrex Regarding the Prohibition of Milk and Meat Mixtures-Continued

In the previous Halacha we have written that according to Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, glassware does not absorb any flavor from foods placed in it and thus, there is no prohibition to use a glass vessel for meat and then after it is washed well, to use it for dairy (although the Rama does rule st......

Read Halacha

Question: Must one designate two different sets of glassware for dairy and meat as one would with other utensils?

Question: Must one designate two different sets of glassware for dairy and meat as one would with other utensils? Answer: We have already established in the previous Halacha that one is obligated to designate two separate sets of dishes and flatware for dairy and meat, for dishes used with either......

Read Halacha

The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on a New Garment

Question: When is the appropriate time to recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on a new garment, at the time of purchase or the first time one wears it? Similarly, must one recite this blessing for every new piece of clothing one purchases? Answer: The Mishnah (Berachot 54a) teaches us ......

Read Halacha