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Is a gabai allowed to speak during chazaras hashatz, kaddish and/or kriyas hatorah for the sake of the tzibbur (e.g. to ask someone if they are a Kohen or Levi)?

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user2005, thanks for the interesting question, and welcome to Mi Yodeya! You may wish to choose a different username, unless you're attached to the number 2005. – msh210 Oct 15 '12 at 16:02
Even stronger: can he speak during psukei dezimra or bein haperakim of kriat shema? – Double AA Oct 15 '12 at 16:47
@DoubleAA, et al., I always think of it in terms of what is needed for the sake of Davening. We are not permitted to touch the parchment of a Sefer Torah. Yet a Sofer needs to, so he may. Except for the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, we are "never" permitted to walk on the area of the Kodesh HaKodoshim. Except, at some point, someone may have to build it, the people in Shlomo and 'Ezra's times needed to do so, and in the time of the Hashmonaim someone needed to repair/clean/purify it. In more secular terms, nobody is allowed to see the king naked; but his doctor must examine him. – Seth J Nov 1 '13 at 16:12

In between aliyos, the custom is to permit talking when important. During kaddish, chazaras hashatz, and during the actual kriyah, I don't think it's allowed.

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Which custom??? – Double AA Dec 31 '13 at 16:17
@DoubleAA In all ashkenazi synagogues I've been to, people talk about whom to recite a mi sheberach for, "Is there a levi here?", and so on. – Ypnypn Dec 31 '13 at 16:24
Are these synagogues in a specific geographic locale? Do you know if the congregants are acting under any rabbinic guidance? Did the synagogues have acting rabbis? – Double AA Dec 31 '13 at 16:26
These are in many places, including ones with rabbis present who are very strict about talking during prayer. – Ypnypn Dec 31 '13 at 16:33

The Mechaber says that only Sichas Chulin is not allowed. It follows that if the Gabbai has to ask them at that time then it is permitted. Unlike during Krias HaTorah where speaking is forbidden even when not for Chulin.

(See the Mishnah Brurah OC 125 sk 9 that says the Maharil wouldn't speak from the beginning of Kedusha until the end of HaKeil HaKadosh. It seems then that he did speak afterwards, so it must have been something important which would seem to be Muttar!)

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Do you have citations for your first paragraph's claims, please? – msh210 Oct 15 '12 at 15:49
@msh210 self understood from the Mechaber in Hilchos Chazaras Hashatz – Yehuda Oct 15 '12 at 17:38
Where is that? That's what I mean by a citation. (And: Really? The halacha of not speaking during k'rias hatora is in the SA at hilchos chazaras hashatz?) – msh210 Oct 16 '12 at 1:11

In Aruch Hashulchan 124:12 he writes that a Rov who is asked a Halachik question during Chazoras Hashatz is permitted and obligated to answer and not wait until after Davening, because maybe the question is time sensitive.

In Hilchos Krias HaTorah 146:2 he brings a disagreement of opinions and concludes that the Rov should evaluate the situation and if it is time sensitive he should answer, otherwise he should hint to the questioner to wait.

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So what about a Gabbai? – Double AA Apr 15 '13 at 4:07
@DoubleAA, While the content of the discussion may be different, why do you think the gabbai should be different from the rabbi? – Ze'ev Felsen Sep 12 '13 at 15:36
@Ze'ev Because a Gabbai isn't issuing piskei halacha – Double AA Sep 12 '13 at 15:38
The core difference then being that the rabbi's discussion is a Torah one, while "Are you a kohen or a levi?" "Will you take chamishi?" "What is your Hebrew name?" are, in your view sichas chullin? – Ze'ev Felsen Sep 12 '13 at 15:52
@Ze'ev I'm not giving my categories names like "sichas chullin" which come with baggage from elsewhere. I'm just saying those two statements are not necessarily in the same category. – Double AA Sep 12 '13 at 15:54

The Shulchan Aruch in Orech Chaim (124:4) says that the kehillah should be quiet and have kavanah for each and every brochah of the shaliach tzibbur. Commenting on that si'if, the Mishnah Brurah notes (si'if katan 17) that one should not learn during the chazaras hashatz, even if one has the kavanah to say amein to each brochah. Why? Because amei haaretz will learn from that behavior, thinking that they don't need to have kavanah during the chazaras hashatz, and will end up speaking "sichah bateilah". The Mishneh Brurah calls these people who cause other people to err "michati'in es harabim".

The same logic can be applied to a gabbai. If amei haaretz see a leader of the kehilah talking when people otherwise shouldn't be talking, even if that person is a gabbai and doing gabbai duties, kal v'chomer that that gabbai could risk falling into "michati'in es harabim". Amei haaretz will see him talking and assume they can too. A possible exemption could be kavod habrios, for instance if a non-religious family member is being given an aliyah and needs some coaching.

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