Follow-up to this M.Y. answer about a "chiyuv" to daven from the amud.

The answer states that a mourner for a parent should try to be shaliach tzibbur.

I question whether this rule contradicts some other principles regarding shaliach tzibbur.

This source states:

The person who acts as shaliach tzibur may only do so with the consent of the congregation. If he does not have that consent, he is not permitted to lead the davening because the davening is in place of sacrifices offered by the public, and it is unfitting for a person to offer a sacrifice in the name of the public against its will. If a person attempts to lead the davening against the will of the congregation, the congregation should not answer amen to the blessings he recites. In reciting those blessings, he is considered to be scoffing rather than blessing G-d.

I'm not sure if my shul is an example, but I know that some congregants, myself among them, do not always approve of one or two "chiyuvim". One, I think, davens too quickly and swallows some words. Another one has an annoying loud voice. I occasionally complain to the gabbai. But I sense that most of the others are not as vocal or think that a "chiyuv" cannot be challenged and these people must always be shlichei tzibbur. Perhaps, this or a similar scenario occurs in other shuls.

I'm not sure if the shaliach tzibbur needs unanimous approval or majority approval. But it seems that if the majority do not approve, how can he be considered a "chiyuv"? If the majority are regular attendants, and they really don't like his davening (or, perhaps, they just don't like his personality), does the "chiyuv" rule still have precedence?

The 2nd challenge is, IIRC, when a person is asked to be shaliach tzibbur, he is supposed to refuse up to 3 times. (I don't recall the source but I think it's in Shulchan Aruch.) In my shul, and I assume mosts others, when they know that the person is a chiyuv, they don't even ask him to be chazzan. Furthermore, the chiyuv just goes up to the bima a few minutes before davening starts, because he knows he's the only chiyuv. Shouldn't he be asked first, and isn't he supposed to refuse? In most places I've davened, either they know who is a chiyuv, or, if it's a "pop up" minyan, like at a wedding, someone asks "Is anyone a chiyuv?" and someone raises his hand, and they have him do it.

So, here, too, does the chiyuv override standard protocol?


2 Answers 2


R Eliezer Melamed addresses this (online under 3 but also in The Laws of prayer p. 51)

The chazan is the emissary of the congregation, and therefore a person is prohibited from taking hold of the chazanut unless he is asked to do so by the congregation or by the gabbai as its representative. Hence, one may not respond Amen to a person who appointed himself to be chazan against the congregation’s wishes (Rama OC 53:22).

Having a good voice, being skilled at chanting and knowing prayers are three important criteria the Shulchan Aruch lists for a hazzan (SA OC 53:4)

So you would be well placed to challenge a hazzan that doesn't have a good voice. However R Daniel Neustadt writes that it is a mitzvah for a congregation to allow any chiyuv, even a guest or a non-member, to serve as Sheliach Tzibbur based on Mishna Brura 53:60. The Rav of the shul would best placed to balance between the needs of the congregation and the chiyuv.

The source for refusing when being asked to be a chazzan is in SA OC 53:16 based on Brachot 34a but the idea is more out of modesty. One who has a chiyuv has a good reason to lead the prayer and I have never seen one refuse since he has a legitimate priority. R Neustadt writes regarding this

A chiyuv who has priority according to Halachah should not readily relinquish his right to be the Sheliach Tzibbur, for the right is not really his to surrender; rather, it belongs to the soul of his parent.


The Halacha regarding initial refusal (SA OC 53:16) is in the context of "Someone who is not a "Shaliach Tzibbur Kavua", one who does not have a fixed position to lead the davening. Someone with a Chiyuv would not necessarily need to refuse the invitation to daven if he has established a position in a certain Minyan. Additionally, the Shulchan Aruch HaRav (53:5) says that even a Bochur who knows what he's saying should take precedence over an unlearned adult with a nice voice. So having a nice voice should not be a deciding factor in all cases. The SA OC 53:4 quoted above also says the Chazzan should be someone who is well-versed in Scripture which seems to fit with the Shulchan Aruch HaRav that the Chazzan should know what he's saying.

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