The Shulchan Aruch OC (100:1) writes that there is an obligation to learn the tefillos which are not commonly said beforehand, and the Rema notes that nowadays we don't need to review the prayers because we have a Siddur. However, the Mishna Berura (100:3) adds:

מתוך הסידור - ותפילות ופיוטים שחמור פירושם צריך להסדיר תחלה ולא מהני ספר בזה - The tefillos and piyutim are more stringent and must be reviewed beforehand since a Siddur doesn't help with this.

Seemingly, the Chofetz Chaim would require us to review the entire Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur Machzor before the Yomim Noraim. Is this something everyone does that I'm just not aware of or is there a heter we rely on today not to spend a while reviewing those tefillos beforehand?

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I think "are more stringent" is a mistranslation of שחמור פירושם. An accurate translation of ותפילות ופיוטים שחמור פירושם would be "tefillos and piyutim whose explanations are difficult", meaning that they are hard to understand. So one should review difficult sections of the prayers. Presumably the definition of difficult varies from person to person. In addition, over the years you should become more and more familiar.

So one should review portions of the prayers they are not familiar with. Personally I try to review the piyutim from selichos the day before, as they use very poetic language and unusual words.

See the Shaarei Teshuva referenced by the Mishna Berura that memorable tefillos such as Al HaNissim do not need to be prepared, and a discussion of the prayers of Moadim.

So if I know someone does not prepare, I would be dan l'kaf zechus that they think they are familiar with all the piyutim already for previous years. Or they just are not familiar with this halacha.

  • Thank you for your fair point regarding my mistranslation - I meant to provide context that the Mishna Berura is being strict beyond the Rema's heter of using a Siddur. Your answer to my question seems to be, "Yes, people are supposed to review all the Piyutim of the Yomim Noraim beforehand. I'm not aware of a heter." Is that accurate?
    – NJM
    Aug 10, 2021 at 13:03
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    @DoubleAA The source is sefaria.org/… The proof is that the Taz et al. clearly say one must prepare piyutim, so your reasoning must be flawed.
    – N.T.
    Aug 10, 2021 at 18:27
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    The Rema is commenting on the Beis Yosef who says not to rely on Rabbeinu Manoach. He says the minhag is to rely on Rabbeinu Manoach. However, the Taz and Shiurei Knesses HaGedolah quoted in Mishna Berurah clearly understand the Rema to not be referring to Tefillos that are unusually difficult, just the Tefillos of Moadim etc. that are better known. The Kaf Hachayim makes the same point.
    – N.T.
    Aug 10, 2021 at 19:03
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    Your criticism equally applies to your understanding of the Taz et al., so I'm in good company. However, the Taz and every source I have seen is clearly explaining what the Rema meant, not arguing on him. It is basically your interpretation of the Rema vs. actual poskim. Again, the Shiurei Knesses Hagedolah also makes the point that many don't prepare the tefillos, and says they are wrong to do so. In addition, I think it is not true to say nobody prepares the tefillos in advance. There are many books and shiurim on the tefillos of Yamim Noraim and other days, and people study them. I do.
    – N.T.
    Aug 10, 2021 at 19:25
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    I didn't know websites had higher standards than meforshim in Shulchan Aruch. I also didn't know being balanced meant going, "Hmm, Taz, Baer Heiteiv, Shaarei Teshuva, Mishnah Berurah, Kaf Hachayim on one side, and @DoubleAA on the other side. Better make sure no one feels left out."
    – N.T.
    Aug 10, 2021 at 19:40

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