Can a Jew who does not observe Shabbat act as a shaliach tzibur (to lead prayers on behalf the congregation)? I know that many are lenient and find reasons to count a mechalel shabbat for a minyan, but I am not certain if there is a stricter standard for allowing them to lead a service and have their prayer represent other people's. Is it relevant whether the particular service is on Shabbat (like that could be scoffing in a way that a weekday wouldn't)?

Inspired by this question.

  • yeshiva.org.il/midrash/27045 Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 13:56
  • See also judaism.stackexchange.com/q/27776
    – msh210
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 17:02
  • There are couple of articles in the Techumim series that discusses 'who is observant', the נפקא מינה being whether a community can decide who to accept into their kehilla and whether wine of non - observant jews has the same din as יין נסך. I cant remember which volumes the articles were in but they discuss relevant points in this discussion
    – bondonk
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 19:49
  • Are they leading on Shabbat or during the week?
    – CashCow
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 10:58

1 Answer 1


There's a theoretical halachic category of someone who publicly, purposely violates the Shabbat; but practically, that's not what you'd call your average non-Shabbat-observing Jew today.

A community could certainly enact its own higher standards, but essentially it's permissible. Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch has a responsum to a small town in South Africa which has to choose a cantor for high holidays. Candidate A keeps a traditional Jewish lifestyle, but drives on Shabbat. Candidate B keeps Shabbat, Kashrut, etc. 100%, but is married to a non-Jewish woman. (He's a kohen, so it wouldn't help if she converted.) Rabbi Shternbuch felt that B was preferable; many other poskim feel that A is.

  • 1
    what's your source? Where does rabbi Sternbuch say that? Moreover, he seems to say the opposite, in that a machalel Shabbos shouldn't lead the services
    – wowow
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 17:14

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