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  • Halacha
  • Kaddish and Keddusha

Davening for amud


Rabbi David Sperling

Tammuz 25, 5775
I live in a community that has unfortunately many aveilim. Many times I would show up at a minyan and there will be other availim present of equal chiyuv. (we are all in the year). First, who would have kedima? As well, when I don’t get the amud, is it better for me to keep coming back for a later minyan, (for example if I didn’t get mincha at 5 should I leave and try again at 6 etc..) or should I just daven and say kaddish afterwards. I want to do what is best for my father’s neshama, but it is very stressful trying to guess which minyan would not have another aveil, and then coming back later, and possibly still not getting the amud. I am not talking about arguing about the amud I never do that. I am just asking if it is best I try to get the amud as much as possible or try once and if I don’t get it just say kaddish?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. It certainly is a mitzvah for you as a mourning son to be the chazzan and lead the services – and you are also correct that one should never fight about such mitzvoth. The opposite is true – that there is greater benefit to the departed soul by giving up the honor of being chazzan, than there is by fighting and arguing for the right to lead the service. So, I am glad to read in your question that you obviously understand this concept well, and I can only hope that your good example will be followed by the rest of community in order to bring about a more harmonious synagogue atmosphere than there is in many places. (I once saw two rabbis politely declining one to the other over the honor to be the chazzan – "No, no, really, you should be the chazzan", said the first. "On the contrary, you deserve to lead the service", said the second, while the congregation waited for them to decide who would have the honor of declining!) In answer to your question as to who has more right to lead the service when there are several mourners. As you saw in the pervious answer – "A short list of the priorities for leading the prayer: Son in Shiva'a prior to son in Shloshim, Son in Shloshiom prior to son in year and Yartziet, Yartzeit prior to son in year. For explanation at length look in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 376:4 the Rm"a, and in Orach Chayim 132 and the Be'ur Halacha there. In any case if the minhag of the town or community is different one follows that minhag." When there are mourners of equal obligation there is an opinion that mentions drawing lots. There are opinions that rather prefer reaching an agreement as to taking turns (or dividing up the service in Shacharit). There are also many local customs in this issue, which give more preference to a local synagogue member than a visitor, or a paying member as opposed to a non-paying member. May I suggest turning to the Rabbi of your synagogue and asking him for a clarification of the local custom? If there is no such Rabbi, then my advice is to arrange some type of rotation, with each mourner leading a separated part of the daily services. I did not see in the rabbinic literature a direct discussion about your second question – that is "when I don’t get the amud, is it better for me to keep coming back for a later minyan ?" There is a discussion as to whether one should split the minyan in two in order to allow to mourners to lead the service – to which Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l rules in the negative, and holds that it is better to have one large minyan. None the less it would seem to me that one does not have to go to the lengths of returning for a latter minyan just in order to be the chazzan. In the vast majority of communities this was never an option (there being only one minyan for each service in any given synagogue), and we do not find that any Rabbis wrote that one should go to such lengths. In fact, historically it used to be the practice that each kaddish was said by only one mourner, and in such a situation it happened that sometimes a person missed out saying kaddish all together! And yet we do not find people worrying, or trying to organize extra minyans. The same is true in your case – you should decide which minyan you want to daven in. If it turns out that you can lead the service, that is well and good. If not, then you will still have the merit of davening and saying kaddish. (This is especially true if you have already (or will be) chazzan once that day, as leading the service once a day is certainly enough [As the Rebbi from Munkatch ruled]). May your efforts and prayers be benefit to your late father's soul – Blessings.
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