There are a bunch of Selichos that are supposed to be "recited responsively." I think for many of them, I've seen the format:

Chazan: line 1 Kehila: line 1

Kehila: line 2 Chazan: line 2
Kehila: line 3 Chazan: line 3 ...

Is this described anywhere? Or any different "responsive" practices?

3 Answers 3


See Kisvei Rav Henkin page 163 for an explanation of why sometimes (e.g. Kel Adon) the chazan is first, and sometimes (e.g. Kedusha) the kahal is first. But your question, I have not found.

  • Do you think you can summarize Rav Henkin's reasoning?
    – Tzvi
    Commented Sep 13, 2010 at 19:10
  • 1
    By a "simple" tefilah, e.g. Kel Adon, the chazan goes first, because he shows the kahal how to say it. However, by a tefilah like Kedusha, where the chazan says "Nekadesh", then the kahal answers "Kadosh", really the kahal does not need to say "Nekadesh", and originally they in fact did not. For some reason, nowadays the kahal says it, but we want to answer the chazan, hence the "backwards" order. Please see it inside to properly understand it. I can email you the page, if you have a way of sending me your email.
    – user146
    Commented Sep 13, 2010 at 23:01

I've also seen, with many piyutim/selichos, something like this:

Chazzan: line 1

Kahal: line 1, then line 2

Chazzan: line 2

Kahal: line 3

Chazzan: line 3


I suspect that with a lot of these piyutim, the original idea was that the kahal should just reply with the repeated phrase of each line (e.g., אמרו לאלקים or מראה כהן), especially back when siddurim or machzorim were rare and therefore you couldn't expect everyone to know all of the words. Later, when it became more common for the kahal to say all of the words, that mutated into something like the above, because they'd want to be able to also listen for the chazzan's recitation/singing of the words (rather than just saying them with him).


Every siddur I've seen has the Chazzan recite the first line, presumably to inform the kehillah of which piyut they are doing, followed by the chazzan repeating after the kehillah for the remainder of the piyut.

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