THe Mishna (Sotah 7.8) describes the order of transferring a Torah scroll to the King for reading on Hakhel:

חַזַּן הַכְּנֶסֶת נוֹטֵל סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה וְנוֹתְנָהּ לְרֹאשׁ הַכְּנֶסֶת, וְרֹאשׁ הַכְּנֶסֶת נוֹתְנָהּ לַסְּגָן, וְהַסְּגָן נוֹתְנָהּ לְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל, וְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל נוֹתְנָהּ לַמֶּלֶךְ, וְהַמֶּלֶךְ עוֹמֵד וּמְקַבֵּל וְקוֹרֵא יוֹשֵׁב.

The synagogue attendant takes a Torah scroll and hands it to the head of the synagogue, the head of the synagogue hands it to the deputy and he hands it to the high priest, and the high priest hands it to the king and the king stands and receives it, but reads it while sitting.

What is meant here by "synagogue" and who are חזן, ראש הכנסת וסגן?

  • 1
    Does כנסת mean "synagogue" or "assembly" (as in אנשי כנסת הגדולה - men of the great assembly; בית כנסת is synagogue).
    – Loewian
    Oct 7, 2019 at 13:30
  • 2
    Whose translation is that?
    – Lo ani
    Oct 7, 2019 at 18:42

1 Answer 1


Rashi on the Mishna in Sotah (40b) helps reveal the tasks of these individuals within the "synagogue" -

חזן הכנסת - שמש הכנסת שטורח עיסקי הכנסת עליו להכניס ולהוציא ולהפשיט את התיבה ולהכין הכל - The Chazan of the 'synagogue' would do everything needed for the preparations of the congregation's prayer
ראש הכנסת - על פיו נחתכין דברי הכנסת מי יפטיר בנביא מי יפרוס על שמע מי ירד לפני התיבה - The Head of the 'synagogue' would say who would receive haftorah, lead the prayers, etc.

סגן - המוכן תחת כ"ג שאם יארע בו פסול ישמש תחתיו - The Sgan is the backup kohen ready to take on the Kohen Gadol's role if something happens.

Seemingly, the 'synagogue' is just the congregation of Jews at that location (in this case fairly large during Yom Kippur) who come together to pray/serve Hashem.

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