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During the repetition of the amidah, during the hoda'ah (modim) the congregation recites a different text while the shaliach tzibbur recites the text we all did during the silent amidah. (1) Why do we recite a different (related) text instead of listening to the sha"tz, and (2) why only here?

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There is an explanation of this by R' Soloveitchik quoted in Machzor Mesoras Harav. If no one gets there first, I'll b"n look it up tonight and post it. Note that according to R' Soloveitchik, the sha"tz is actually supposed to wait long enough for the congregation to complete Modim Derabanan before starting Modim himself. –  Isaac Moses Nov 1 '12 at 14:02
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@IsaacMoses, are you sure about that last point? My understanding is that he is not supposed to wait. –  Seth J Nov 1 '12 at 14:10
    
@SethJ, I'm pretty sure it's in the "Hanhagos Harav" section of the aforementioned Machzor. I've also seen this done in the Rav's name by YU alumni (not proof by itself, I know, but reinforces what I've seen on paper). This could well be a Brisker Da'as Yachid situation, where everyone else indeed says not to wait. –  Isaac Moses Nov 1 '12 at 14:15
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@IsaacMoses I understood the Rav's concern to be that everyone hear what the Chazzan says, which is usually hard while everyone is mumbling. –  Double AA Nov 1 '12 at 15:14
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...however, the time for the congregation to say Modim is not after the bracha of Avoda; it's when the Chazzan is saying Modim. So either the congregation should say their Modim in a 'silent' undertone, or the Chazzan should pause after the first few words to let everyone finish. If the Chazzan delays starting his Modim, I would delay starting mine. –  Double AA Nov 1 '12 at 15:47
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2 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Abudraham, in "Seder Shacharit shel Chol u-Ferushah", says( here, right column, lines 29-38):

וכשיגיע ש"ץ ל'מודים' וכורע, כל העם שוחין ואומרין הודאה קטנה המתחלת כמו כן ב'מודים', שאין דרך העבד להודות לרבו ולומר לו 'אדוני אחה' על ידי שליח, אלא כל אדם צריך לקבל בפיו עול מלכות שמים, ואם יקבל על ידי שליח, אינה קבלה גמורה, שיוכל להכחיש ולומר לא שלחתיו. אכל בשאר התפלה, שהיא בקשה, יכול לתבוע צרכיו על ידי שליח, שכל אדם חפץ בטובתו ולא יכחיש ויאמר 'לא שלחתיו', וזהו שאמר דוד 'אמרתי לה׳ ה׳ אתה', אני בעצמי אמרתי לו ולא על ידי שליח

In my translation:

And when the Shali'ach Tzibur reaches Modim and bows, all the people bow slightly and say a small Hoda'a which also starts with Modim, as it isn't the [proper] way for a servant to thank his master and say to him 'you are my master' through a messenger, but every man has to accept the Yoke of Heavenly Kingdom with his mouth, and if he accepts through a messenger, it isn't a complete acceptance, for he can deny [it] and say 'I did not send him', and this is what [is meant by what] David said 'I said to ha-Shem ha-Shem you are', I myself said to Him and not by messenger.

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I heard in a recording of R' Yisroel Simcha Shorr that this is learned from the parsha of Bikkurim. Bikkurim is a parsha of hakaras hatov - we are thanking Hashem for the good of the land that He gave us - and the halacha is (Mishna Bikkurim 1:5) that the parsha of Bikkurim cannot be read by proxy. From this we learn that you cannot give thanks appropriately through a messenger.

(R' Shorr didn't give a source for this idea.)

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But see 3:7 that a proxy can read it for you in your presence, which is what happens during Modim. I don't understand R' Shorr's position. –  Double AA Feb 5 at 22:15
    
@DoubleAA Maybe I'm missing something - it's explicit that that was a takana so that people would not get embarrassed, not normal proxy. If someone was able to do it, they could not have a proxy do it if not for the concern for people becoming embarrassed. By modim, which is done quietly and privately, there is no such concern –  YEZ Feb 5 at 23:59
    
@DoubleAA Upon further review, I think you made a mistake - The mishna says מקרין אותו - they lead him in the reading. He still has to read himself, he just has someone saying it along with him. –  YEZ Feb 6 at 0:26
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