When saying a private portion of the service, such as pesukei de-zimra, may the shaliach tzibur (aka chazzan, or the person leading services) use English, and switch to Hebrew for the portions said aloud?

  • 2
    I don't see why not.
    – Double AA
    Jan 17 '12 at 14:32
  • 4
    I'd recommend checking with one's Rabbi before trying anything suggested here.
    – Isaac Moses
    Jan 17 '12 at 15:03
  • 2
    @IsaacMoses as always :)
    – yitznewton
    Jan 17 '12 at 15:59
  • 1
    @avi seems to me the Sha"tz is only up there in non-public sections out of convenience or decorum; he's not actually effecting anything except for kaddish and amidah. No?
    – yitznewton
    Jan 17 '12 at 19:26
  • 1
    @yitznewton The Shaliach Tzibur is the Shaliach tzibur. While he is up there he represents the Tzibur. I'm not sure what is hard to follow. If the tzibur doesn't want a shaliach, don't send one.
    – avi
    Jan 17 '12 at 21:29

Bais Yosef rules that one may pray in any language.

Mishnah Berurah seems to suggest that one may either pray in Hebrew (whether or not he understands the words) or in any other language (but ONLY if he understands the words).


At a time when the Sha"tz was actually there to recite the prayer on behalf of the others, it might pose a problem to say most of the text in one language, and then the last line of every paragraph in Hebrew; the complete text is not being recited in either language, as one whole unit, which would seem to pose problems in fulfilling ones (or another's) obligation to pray.

Generally speaking, we do not rely on the Sha"tz to exempt others from their prayer obligations in our times. Nowadays, the Sha"tz is more symbolic than functionary. From that point of view, the Sha"tz technically doesn't have to say anything at all during the silent parts.

Based on that understanding of the Sha"tz's function in contemporary synagogues, one may indeed recite the silent parts in English, and the vocal parts in Hebrew.

However - I would caution that for kriyas shema, and for the silent shemoneh esreh, when typically the Sha"tz himself intends to fulfill his own mitzvah of kriyas shema and of tefillah, that he pick one language for the entire section and stick to it.

(Of course, one could recite all of kriyas shema in English, silently. Once he is finished with that silent recitation, he could switch to Hebrew for the vocal "Hashem Elokechem Emes" - and it wouldn't violate the concept of saying the entire section in one language, because the entire kriyas shema was already said silently before the Sha"tz recites those words out loud, to alert the congregation to move on.)

  • 1
    Will, please add more sources to this otherwise (IMHO) great answer. This answer contains many Halachoth and historical statements being assumed as understood, and while they may be factually correct, and obvious to you, and even to many of us "regulars", they may not be known to the casual reader. It would be akin to a discussion on amending the U.S. Constitution and making repeated references to the Women's Suffrage, Prohibition and Reconstruction movements, without any citations except to an op-ed in the NY Times from the 60s pushing for a Civil Rights amendment or some such.
    – Seth J
    Jan 17 '12 at 16:38
  • 1
    I still can't find a written source about the role of the sha"tz in contemporary synagogues. The Shulchan Aruch / Mishnah Berurah chapter/verse numbers should be fairly easy to find.
    – user1095
    Jan 17 '12 at 18:48
  • @SethJ Does this mean that the Shaliach zibbur can simply skip some or all of the silent portions of the davening?
    – Yehuda W
    Sep 29 '19 at 20:45

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