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Chapter Nineteen-Part Two

Chazarat HaShatz


Rabbi Eliezer Melamed

1.The Enactment of the Amidah Repetition (Chazarat HaShatz)
Anshei Knesset HaGedolah established that after individuals finish reciting the silent Shemoneh Esrei, the chazan repeats the Amidah out loud in order to fulfill the obligation of prayer for those who do not know how to pray by themselves (Rosh HaShanah 34b). This repetition is known as Chazarat HaShatz. However, for Ma’ariv, they did not institute an Amidah repetition since, in essence, Ma’ariv is an optional prayer (although nowadays it is an obligatory prayer, as explained further in this book 25:2) and consequently, there is no need to fulfill the obligation for those who are not well-versed in the passages of the prayer service.
The Chachamim instituted that the chazan also prays the silent Amidah in order to organize the prayer in his mind. Additionally, they instructed that even those who know how to pray by themselves listen to Chazarat HaShatz and answer Amen after the berachot.
Because the Amidah repetition was enacted by Chazal, it must be recited even in a minyan in which all the people know how to pray by themselves. Even after it became permissible to put Torah Sheb’al Peh (the Oral Torah) into writing, including the wording of the prayers, and though the use of siddurim has become common, the enactment of the Chachamim did not change. Moreover, today, when one rarely finds a minyan where someone needs to fulfill his obligation with Chazarat HaShatz, it is nevertheless recited, for the rule is that once the Chachamim enact a law, distinctions are not made between cases in which the law applies, and those in which it does not (Shulchan Aruch 124:3, based on the responsa of the Rambam). Further, the Chachamim instituted reciting Kedushah and Birkat Kohanim in the repetition, and if the Amidah is not repeated, they will not be recited altogether (Tur).
The Kabbalah clarifies that in addition to the simple explanation of why both the Amidah and its repetition are necessary, namely, to fulfill the obligation of one who is not proficient in the wording of the prayers, there is a sublime reason according to the secrets of Torah (sod), that the recital of both prayers together causes them to be more effective. Therefore, even today, when there is no need to fulfill the obligation of one who is not well-versed in prayer, the chazan must still recite the Chazarat HaShatz, for the hidden reason still stands.
It is a great privilege to answer Amen to the berachot of the Amidah repetition. Even learning Torah is forbidden at that time (see Kaf HaChaim 124:2 and 16). The virtue of the Amidah repetition is greater than the virtue of the silent Amidah. Therefore, although the themes of the Amidah are supremely recondite, permission is granted to recite it aloud. Due to its profound virtue, there is no concern that forces of impurity will take hold of it. The listeners must refrain from invalidating it by talking. It is said of one who chatters during Chazarat HaShatz "that he is sinning, and his transgression is too great to bear; therefore he must be rebuked" (Shulchan Aruch 124:7).

2.Who May Fulfill His Obligation by Hearing the Amidah Repetition?
Three conditions must exist in order for an individual to be able to fulfill his obligation of prayer by hearing the Amidah repetition.
1) The individual must not be proficient in prayer. By contrast, one who knows how to pray is obligated to pray and beg for mercy on his own behalf; he cannot fulfill his obligation just by listening to the chazan. A person who can only pray with a siddur, and has arrived at a place where there are no siddurim, may, at that time, fulfill his obligation by hearing the chazan.
2) There must be ten men present, because the Chachamim instituted that individuals are only permitted to fulfill their obligation by hearing the chazan in the presence of a minyan.
3) The listener must understand the chazan’s words. One who does not understand Hebrew cannot fulfill his obligation of prayer by listening to Chazarat HaShatz.
Even though a person who knows how to pray is not allowed to fulfill his obligation with the Amidah repetition, if he already recited the Amidah and mistakenly omitted a part of the prayer which prevents him from fulfilling his obligation, he may fulfill it by hearing the chazan, since he has already requested mercy for himself. This includes a situation in which a person inadvertently omitted Ya’aleh V’Yavo on Rosh Chodesh or Chol HaMo’ed, in which case he did not fulfill his obligation (Shulchan Aruch 124:10). 1
When a person has kavanah to fulfill his obligation by hearing the Amidah repetition, he must stand as one does for the Amidah, with his feet together, and at the end of the Amidah take three steps back (Shulchan Aruch 124:1). He answers Amen after the berachot and responds to Kedushah. However, he does not answer "Baruch Hu u’varuch Shemo" and in Modim he listens to the chazan and does not say Modim d’Rabbanan (Shulchan Aruch 124:6; Mishnah Berurah 3). He must also be careful not to interrupt by talking; even if he hears another minyan reciting Kaddish, he may not answer. The chazan must be strict in saying the whole Amidah aloud, for this is the law regarding Chazarat HaShatz, that it must be recited out loud in its entirety. Some chazanim mistakenly say part of Birkat Modim quietly. Aside from the fact that the chazan does not completely fulfill the obligation to repeat the Amidah, there is reason to be concerned that perhaps there is a person present who wishes to fulfill his obligation with the repetition; however, since he does not hear the chazan recite the whole Amidah, he cannot do so (Mishnah Berurah 124:41).

^ 1.However, according to the Mishnah Berurah 124:40, it is better that he repeats the prayer himself, for then he will have more kavanah.
Regarding the matter of supplementary prayers (tashlumim), see earlier in this book 18:8, note 9, where it is explained that concerning the supplementary Amidah of Shacharit, the majority of poskim agree that a person cannot fulfill his obligation by hearing the chazan’s repetition. Concerning the supplementary Amidah of Ma’ariv, however, there is disagreement.

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