Some Piyutim recited on Shabbath are widely (in the Ashkenazi world) sung by the congregation (usually in unison, but in some rare instances in the Ashkenazi world they are sung responsively). Among them, and I don't mean to leave any out, are Lecha Dodi on Friday night, Kel Adon in Birchoth Keriath Shema', and Ein KeLokeinu.

However, some, primarily (in my perception) Yeshivish congregations (and Yeshivoth) don't sing them, but rather recite them quietly. Sometimes the Ḥazzan will sing it and the congregation will recite it quietly after (or sometimes before) him.

Why the discrepancy?

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    +1. And some congregations will sing some such songs and not others: I know of several synagogues that sing "Kel adon" and L'cha dodi" but not "En kelokenu", for example.
    – msh210
    Dec 29, 2011 at 18:47
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    Most "Yeshivish" places dont sing "En kelokenu". And don't you DARE try to sing "Hodo Al Eretz V'Shamayim"!
    – Mbrevda
    Dec 29, 2011 at 19:52

1 Answer 1


A lot of it is just different styles and different focuses -- not to mention that many of the prayer tunes we take for granted now are less than 200 years old. As the modern yeshiva is about 200 years old, it's possible the yeshiva developed its own style and never got wind of some of these tunes.

In many yeshivas the view is to keep the time spent praying to a (reasonable) minimum so more time can be spent on studying.

On a more-concrete note, Rabbi Joseph Soloveichik is quoted in Nefesh HaRav as of the opinion that a hymn of praise, such as Kel Adon, achieves the sanctity of davar shebikdusha (a publicly-recited prayer service) if recited responsively. Note that the Kaddish and Kedusha have call-and-response between reciter and congregation. Thus he felt it should be said responsively. He also felt this way regarding Lecha Dodi and Adon Olam (or was it Yigdal, if I recall?). His student Rabbi Hershel Schachter questions why Lecha Dodi should be included, even if we accept R' Soloveichik's premise, as Lecha Dodi is not directly about praise of G-d.

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    Can you quote where specifically in Nefesh HaRav? Dec 30, 2011 at 6:17
  • @Adam, sorry I don't recall.
    – Shalom
    Dec 30, 2011 at 15:45

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