In choosing Minyan the Klal BeRov Am Hadrat HaMelech (more people is better) applies. But if minyan is so huge that there are difficulties for a person, who is far from Chazan to hear him.

Is it better in this case to go to other minyan and be able to hear the Chazan?

  • I think that hearing the Chazan is more important. How else would you know when to sing "Berosh Hashana Yikatevu"? Seriously, things like responding to Kedusha are important. I also assume if you can't hear the Chazan, you also can't hear the Torah reader. And, it is important to hear the Torah reading. If you can't hear the Shofar, that's the BIGGEST "problem" of the day. – DanF Aug 20 '15 at 14:24

The Gemoro Sukkah 51b speaks about the shul in Alexandria as follows:

מי שלא ראה דיופלוסטון של אלכסנדריא של מצרים לא ראה בכבודן של ישראל אמרו כמין בסילקי גדולה היתה סטיו לפנים מסטיו פעמים שהיו בה (ששים רבוא על ששים רבוא) כפלים כיוצאי מצרים והיו בה ע"א קתדראות של זהב כנגד ע"א של סנהדרי גדולה כל אחת ואחת אינה פחותה מעשרים ואחד רבוא ככרי זהב

ובימה של עץ באמצעיתה וחזן הכנסת עומד עליה והסודרין בידו וכיון שהגיע לענות אמן הלה מניף בסודר וכל העם עונין אמן

Soncino Translation & notes

It has been taught, R. Judah stated, He who has not seen the double colonnade (20) of Alexandria in Egypt) (21) has never seen the glory of Israel. It was said that it was like a huge basilica, one colonnade within the other, and it sometimes held (22) twice the number of people that went forth from Egypt. (23) There were in it seventy-one cathedras of gold, corresponding to the seventy-one members of the Great Sanhedrin, (24) not one of them containing less than twenty-one (25) talents of gold, and a wooden platform in the middle upon which the attendant of the Synagogue stood with a scarf in his hand. When the time came to answer Amen, (26) he waved his scarf and all the congregation (27) duly responded.

(21) From the foundation of the city by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.E., the Jews formed an important section of the population with their own places of worship and other rights and privileges. (22) Cur. edd. in parenthesis, ‘600,000 X 600,000’. (23) I.e., 1,200,000. (24) Bah read ‘elders’ for ‘members of... Sanhedrin’. (25) The reading ‘twenty-one myriads’ of cur. edd. is deleted by Elijah Wilna. (26) When e.g., the Reader concluded a benediction. (27) To whom owing to the huge size of the Synagogue, the reader's voice was inaudible.

Rashi comments on לענות אמן

. שהיה שליח שלפני התיבה גומר ברכתו והן לא היו יכולין כולן לשמוע קולו:

the prayer leader was in front of the ark and not everyone was able to hear the prayer leader finish his blessing.

From the reference in the first statement to the “glory of Israel” it seems that the Gemoro approves of this synagogue and that actually hearing the Chazan may not be the important factor as long as you can answer omain.


Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayyim 124:4 says:

כְּשֶׁשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר חוֹזֵר הַתְּפִלָּה, הַקָּהָל יֵשׁ לָהֶם לִשְׁתֹּק וּלְכַוֵּן לַבְּרָכוֹת שֶׁמְּבָרֵךְ הַחַזָּן וְלַעֲנוֹת אָמֵן; וְאִם אֵין ט' מְכַוְּנִים לְבִרְכוֹתָיו, קָרוֹב לִהְיוֹת בִּרְכוֹתָיו לְבַטָּלָה; לָכֵן כָּל אָדָם יַעֲשֶׂה עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלּוּ אֵין ט' זוּלָתוֹ, וִיכַוֵּן לְבִרְכַּת הַחַזָּן. יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים שֶׁכָּל הָעָם יַעַמְדוּ כְּשֶׁחוֹזֵר הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר הַתְּפִלָּה, (הַגָּהוֹת מִנְהָגִים).

Summary / translation:

During the chazan's repetition, the cong. should be quiet and concentrate on the blessings that the chazzan recites and answer "Amen". If there aren't 9 people concentrating on his blessings it is close to his blessings being in vain. Therefore, each person should pretend that he is among the necessary 9 people ...

I.e. the above emphasizes the importance of every person listening to the chazzan and answering "Amen" even if there are far more than 9 people. You have to hear the chazzan no matter what.

It's unclear from your question as to why you can't hear the chazzan. If every else is schmoozing, then, unless the Rabbi takes control and makes them stop, it is very difficult for you to request it. Trust me, I've been yelled at numerous times for asking even 1 person to be quiet! (Long, sad story!). In that case, by all means, find a quieter shul.

If the shul is quiet, but you're too far away from the chazzan to hear him, can't you request a seat closer to the chazzan? I find it hard to believe that no one would accommodate your request. Even if you have to stand the whole time or most of the time, this should be possible.

If you're hearing impaired, that's another story. In many cases, you may actually be exempt from having to hear the chazzan, anyway. (As for hearing the shofar via hearing aids and implants, there's a pamphlet discussing these issues. Not a simple answer.)

I also assume that if you can't hear the chazzan, perhaps, you can't hear the shofar sound, either. That would be a bigger problem, as hearing the shofar on Rosh Hashanna is a Torah requirement. If the shul is that noisy that this is a problem, then, it seems that you definitely need to find a different quieter shul.

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