In most shuls that I have attended (mainly Nusach Ashkenaz), young children (below Bar Mitzvah age, usually) finish the Shabbat davening at the end of Musaph. I.e., they sing from En K'elokeinu through Adon Olam.

How and why did this custom begin?

I have a concern with their doing this. While this is not a scientific poll, I asked about 20 young kids (ages 6 - about 11) if they actually recite the entire Pitum Haktoret, the passage after En K'elokeinu. All said, no. The words were too hard from them to pronounce, and I guess, being that there is no song to them, I can understand, somewhat, why this is harder than "Aleinu". OK, if, technically, you're a Shaliach Tzibbur, aren't you supposed to say everything? Is it correct to assign a kid who can't do it and just says the ending "for show"?

I can probably say the same thing about An'im Zemirot, though, it seems that since they have to sing it aloud, that may be an incentive for them to pronounce the words better. (When I was a younger boy (not a "Yunger man"), my chazzan would not let me sing Anim Zemirot, exactly because of this concern that the words were too hard to pronounce.)

In short, a combo question - why did he custom become this way, and is it the correct thing to use kids that can't pronounce the words or don't even bother in the first place?

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    It's not like Pitum Haketoret is part of davening. It's just a bit of learning at the end. So to call the kid a shaliach tzibbur is a bit of a stretch.
    – Daniel
    Apr 14, 2016 at 15:27
  • @Daniel Not completely following your claim. It's in the Siddur as apart of Musaf. How is not part of davening? As a matter of fact, it seems somewhat important, as it becomes a "prereq" for Kaddish Derabbanan that follows.
    – DanF
    Apr 14, 2016 at 15:32
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    And as a comment, the children pronouce all of Anim Z'mirot fine. It's the adults who can't pronounce the 2nd word in the first response line.
    – CashCow
    Apr 14, 2016 at 15:51
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    @DanF Davening ends with Kaddish Shalem. Everything else is add ons that some people say. Kaddish Derabanan isn't related to Davening; it's related to public Torah study, as you know. Plenty of things in the Siddur aren't Davening, as you know.
    – Double AA
    Apr 14, 2016 at 15:56
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    What you call "davening" and what you don't call "davening" is a question of semantics (cc DoubleAA). The point is not whether it's called "davening" (nor whether the leader is called a "shatz", cc @Daniel ) but whether we have to be concerned that the leader says every word. I fail to see why that should be a concern for the k'tores. (It's not like he's being motzi anyone with it, anyway.) Can you edit in why you think that's a concern?
    – msh210
    Apr 14, 2016 at 19:47

1 Answer 1


I remember hearing once that the Vilna Gaon (I think) said that Anim Zemirot is one of the holiest pieces of tefillah and it should only be said on Yom Kippur. I wonder whether since children are considered to be pure and their aveirot are not counted before Bar Mitzvah, if we are going to sing it every Shabbat, we have children do it as adults are not pure enough to do it. I don't have a source for that idea - just something that occurred to me once. Once children are singing Anim Zemirot, it makes sense that it could easily have become extended to the other final parts of davening.

Possibly there is also an idea of Chinuch since we want the children to learn how to lead the davening so that we have the next generation of baalei tefillah and this is a good starting point?

  • IMO, Anim Zemirot is not a good chinuch starting point. No yeshiva that I know of begins their Siddur chinuch with Anim Zemirot. It'ssimpy more practical to start kids with the more common daily davening parts such as Shema, Birkot Hashachar and Amidah. Often, davening is done in school at the start of the day. Anim Zemirot, then, would most likely not be a factor.
    – DanF
    Apr 17, 2016 at 21:51
  • I'm talking about Chinuch for being baal tefillah, not for personal davening. Apr 18, 2016 at 8:40

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