Question: May one speak between the silent Amida and the Chazzan’s repetition?
Answer: After concluding one’s silent Amida, one must wait silently for the Chazzan to begin his repetition and one may not speak at all. There is no distinction between men and women regarding this law; anyone praying in the synagogue where there is a Chazzan should not be speaking at all between the silent Amida and the Chazzan’s repetition.
“Hashem Shamati Shim’acha”
There is a disagreement among the Poskim regarding whether or not specific songs/poems instituted to be recited between the silent Amida and the repetition, such as “Hashem Shamati Shim’acha” recited by some during the High Holidays, may be recited or perhaps they should be omitted since one should not be speaking at all in this place.
Halachically speaking, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Responsa Yechave Da’at, Volume 5, Chapter 42) that it is permissible to recite the above text between the silent Amida and the repetition; however, it is proper that the Chazzan himself remain silent, for according to the saintly Ari z”l, it is absolutely forbidden to interrupt with any form of speech between the silent Amida and the Chazzan’s repetition. However, the rest of the congregation may recite it. Similarly, if there a need to, one may recite words of Torah in an undertone and only idle chatter must be avoided.
The Opinion of the Ben Ish Hai
On the other hand, Rabbeinu Yosef Haim (Ben Ish Hai, Parashat Terumah) writes that between the silent Amida and the repetition, “One may not speak and not even study Torah.” This is based on the aforementioned Ari z”l. Nevertheless, Maran zt”l points out (in his Halichot Olam, Volume 1, page 191) that if one wishes to look in a Sefer so as not to be standing idly, one may do so, especially since according to the letter of the law, one may even utter words of Torah, as long as this is being done quietly. The Chazzan, however, should not interrupt between the silent Amida and the repetition even by looking in a Sefer.
Summary: Although one may not speak between the silent Amida and the Chazzan’s repetition, one may look into and Sefer and learn Torah silently. Some even uttering the words in an undertone, such as reading Tehillim. The Chazzan, however, should not interrupt between the silent Amida and his repetition at all.