I was at a Shabbat table and someone told me that, according to Hacham Ovadia Yosef, the one leading the prayers cannot motzi others (i.e. cannot relieve others' prayer obligations) if he does not distinguish between Gimmel and Ghimmel.

I had never heard of this before, and he didn't have a source to provide. He said he had read it or heard it, but couldn't remember where. Does anyone have a source for this?

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    For those wondering what a Ghimmel (refuyah) sounds like, here is an enjoyable example: Naghillah Halleluyah Naghillah. A classic at Sepharadi Shabbat tables.
    – Lee
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 8:00
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    I can guess what it sounds like. Like chaf but vocal. What does the Maghen Avraham rule on this?
    – CashCow
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 10:49

1 Answer 1


While not the pesaq (Halakhic ruling) of Hakham 'Ovadiah A"H himself, his son Hakham Yitzhaq Yosef SheLIT"A, who more frequently than not rules like his father, states (my translation and emphasis) in Qitzur Shulhhan Arukh, Yalqut Yosef (Orahh Hayim 53:10):

אין ממנים שליח צבור למי שאינו מבטא את האותיות כתקנן, כגון שקורא לאות חי''ת כמו כ''ף רפויה, או כמו ה''א. וכן אם קורא לאות עי''ן כמו אל''ף. ואף על פי שקולו ערב והעם מרוצים ממנו וחפצים בו, אין ראוי למנותו לשליח צבור. ואפילו אם על-ידי טורח יכול לבטא האותיות כהוגן, יש לחוש שמא לא יתן לבו כראוי ויקרא האותיות בשיבוש. ורק אם אין שליח צבור הגון כמותו, מותר למנותו לשליח צבור

One must not designate the role of Sheliahh Tzibbur to one who is unable to pronounce the letters properly. For example, if he reads the letter Het like a Kaf refuyah or like a Heh. So, too, if he reads the letter 'Ayin like an Alef. And even if his voice is beautiful and the congregation is pleased with him and desire his talent (lit. him), it is not proper to designate him as Sheliahh Tzibbur. And even if, with great effort, he is able to pronounce the letters properly, one must be concerned that he will not exert enough effort and will read the letters improperly. And only if there is no other Sheliahh Tzibbur as fitting as he is it permissible to designate him as Sheliahh Tzibbur.

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    i've heard that before, but to distinguish between Gimmel and Ghimmel is a lot more rare, and i've run across very few Jews who do it. So it seems a bit beyond belief to me that Ovadia Yosef would make such a comment
    – Aaron
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 18:28
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    Unless we find the an exact match from Hakham 'Ovadiah's rulings, it may be safe to assume that someone heard or read this pesaq and extrapolated thereof. Are you sure your friend was specifically referring to the Gimmel?
    – Lee
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 18:31
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    Yep, he was specifically referring to Gimmel, and he said that the ruling was specific to the Gimmel for the Amidah
    – Aaron
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 18:40
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    @Yishai Indeed AFAIK, BGDKPT changes never alter the meaning.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 21:13
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    This is not his chidush. It's a gemara in Megila 24b brought in Shulchan Aruch 53 12. Applying this to gimmel/jimmel would be a chidush. (Especially considering that the achronim said if everyone in that community pronounces it wrong, there is no issue)
    – user6591
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 3:25

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