What is the role of a Cantor?

When and why did the Cantor come into place?

  • Are you asking about the cantor's role as the assigned prayer leader, or the one who sings and leads in the musical/cantorial nature of services?
    – rosends
    Mar 31, 2016 at 15:12
  • @Danno Everything,the nature of the cantors role compared to the worship in The Temple in jerusalem
    – Aigle
    Mar 31, 2016 at 15:14
  • 5
    I don't understand the connection between a cantor and the Temple.
    – Double AA
    Mar 31, 2016 at 15:27
  • Your title asks for his role. The questions itself does, too, but then immediately answers that and asks something else entirely, an historical question. I fear people are going to not understand exactly what you want to know (indeed, I don't understand exactly what you want to know) and answer a question you don't seek the answer to, so I'm closing this to answers so you can clarify what exactly you seek to know.
    – msh210
    Mar 31, 2016 at 15:45
  • 1
    I can't retract my vote. But, prior to reopening, see if judaism.stackexchange.com/q/64553/5275 may be a duplicate.
    – DanF
    Mar 31, 2016 at 18:38

2 Answers 2


I believe it is related to the fact that years back many people didn't know how to read or didn't own a siddur so the chazzan was the one who read on behalf of the kehal.


The Leviim had the role of singing in the Beit Hamikdash.

Today being a cantor in a synagogue is not directly related to the job of singing by the Leviim but simply a function of a person whose profession is to lead davening.

  • Granted, I need to wait until OP clarifies his question. But, I think your answer addresses only the singing role of the cantor. I think this is a secondary role, though an important one. The original purpose was as Shaliach Tzibbur, which, originated b/c few people knew how to read the tefilla, esp. Amidah. That's why Chazarat Hashat"z originated.
    – DanF
    Mar 31, 2016 at 16:04
  • How do you know there wasn't a shliach tzibur before the repitition of the amidah was made? Also "leading davening" includes that as well as the shemona esre is the main part of davening
    – Dude
    Mar 31, 2016 at 16:17
  • I'm sure the cantor was there prior to repetition of Amidah. But, perhaps, since the Amidah seems to be the central part of the prayer, that may have been the cantor's main reason for being there.
    – DanF
    Mar 31, 2016 at 18:29
  • @DanF I am not sure that a cantor pre-dated when the repetition was institued. When (roughly) do you think that occurred?
    – Mike
    Apr 5, 2016 at 4:41

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