The minority of Jews who have received sufficient Jewish education to allow proper prayer in Hebrew face a dilemma regarding their less educated co-religionists. Can a Jew who is incapable of properly pronouncing the prayers lead the community services? There are times when tradition, and even law, would demand it, such as on a yahrtzeit or a kohen leading birkas kohanim. If the Jew cannot pray in proper Hebrew, is he even allowed to pray silently in his garbled reading? And let us not forget those with speech impediments who, despite their adequate education, cannot pronounce Hebrew properly.

Mispronouncing Hebrew

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I. Mispronouncing Hebrew

The minority of Jews who have received sufficient Jewish education to allow proper prayer in Hebrew face a dilemma regarding their less educated co-religionists. Can a Jew who is incapable of properly pronouncing the prayers lead the community services? There are times when tradition, and even law, would demand it, such as on a yahrtzeit or a kohen leading birkas kohanim. If the Jew cannot pray in proper Hebrew, is he even allowed to pray silently in his garbled reading? And let us not forget those with speech impediments who, despite their adequate education, cannot pronounce Hebrew properly.

The Mishnah (Megillah 24b) raises the issue regarding leading prayers and birkas kohanim. Someone from Chaifah and Beis She’an may not lead because they confuse the alef and ayin sounds and the heih and ches. Rashi offers what could be understood as two reasons why they may not lead: 1) By using an ayin sound rather than an alef in birkas kohanim, they change the blessing into a curse. Additionally, 2) their mispronounced prayer is defective.

II. No One Else

Why does Rashi give both reasons? The Divrei Chaim (vol. 2, OC no. 10) suggests that Rashi is referring to someone who can pronounce the Hebrew properly when he tries hard. Such a person would not be allowed to lead the congregation in prayer because the length of the service makes it extremely unlikely that he will be able to maintain his focus throughout. Birkas Kohanim is much shorter and such a person would be allowed to lead, except that the possibility of his accidentally cursing the congregation forces us to prevent him from leading as well.

This fits with one of the views of Tosafos. The Gemara (Megillah 24b) says that R. Chiya mispronounced Hebrew. However, elsewhere the Gemara (Bava Metzi’a 86a) says that R. Yehudah Ha-Nasi appointed R. Chiya to lead prayers on a special fast day. How could R. Chiya lead prayers if he mispronounces Hebrew? Tosafos (Megillah 24b sv. ke-she-attah) suggest that R. Chiya could pronounce Hebrew properly if he concentrated. In such a case, R. Yehudah Ha-Nasi allowed him to lead prayers.

However, Tosafos (Bava Metzi’a 86a sv. achtinhu) take a different approach. They explain that R. Chiya was the only person capable of leading prayers in that unique circumstance of the special fast. If there is no one else available, then even someone who mispronounces Hebrew may lead. Some later authorities (e.g. Pri Chadash, Orach Chaim 53:12) accept this view in practice.

III. His Way

Returning to Rashi, the Turei Even (ad loc.) offers a different explanation for the two reasons. He suggests that a mispronounced prayer is not defective to someone who normally speaks Hebrew in this improper way. That is how he pronounces the words. If this were not the case, then he would always need to find someone to recite prayers for him. However, when such a person leads the prayer services, which amounts to praying on behalf of others, then the mispronounced prayers are defective for the listeners. This does not apply to birkas kohanim, which is why Rashi needed another reason — turning the blessing into a curse — to disqualify someone who cannot pronounce Hebrew properly. The Chelkas Yo’av (Even Ha-Ezer no. 17) ruled this way regarding chalitzah when the man cannot pronounce Hebrew properly.

IV. Used To It / Normal There

The Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav (128:48) also quotes two reasons for disqualifying such people from leading prayers, although slightly differently from Rashi’s explanations: 1) they distract the public with their improper pronunciations, 2) their prayers are defective. The practical difference between these two views is significant. According to the former, when the public is used to the mispronunciation, such as an established member of the community, there is no problem with him leading services. According to the latter, only in a place where most people pronounce Hebrew that way is it allowed. The Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav rules strictly, like the second view.

A source for this second approach is a responsum of the Radbaz (Responsa 1:399). He was asked whether Greek Jews could recite birkas kohanim in Egypt, where their pronunciations sounded foreign and incorrect. He replied that while their pronunciation of the blessings was sufficient for Greece, where all the Jews spoke Hebrew that way, they could not do so in Egypt. The Magen Avraham (53:15) rules like the Radbaz and a similar responsum of the Maharit (1:16). The Beis Shmuel (169:28) and Mishnah Berurah (53:37) rule similarly.

However, the first view also has a precedent. The Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilkhos Tefillah 8:12) writes that a teacher may appoint a student who mispronounces Hebrew to lead prayers. Why this exception? The Or Samei’ach (ad loc.) explains that the reason for preventing someone who mispronounces the prayers from leading them is respect for the congregation. Therefore, when the congregation is familiar with the person and his speech there is no slight to the congregation and he may lead. A teacher and classmates know the students and therefore the teacher may appoint a student to lead without concern (cf. Taz, Orach Chaim 128:30).

V. Today

Most Hebrew dialects today — both Ashkenazic and Sephardic — have apparent deficiencies. For their own communities, where most people speak that way, their pronunciations are sufficient. Even in other situations there are ample reasons to allow the alternate pronunciations, as above. However, other cases are more difficult.

Someone with a speech impediment or who lacks the education to properly pronounce Hebrew is still unable to lead services. He may only do so when no one else can. I can see a sympathetic halakhic authority stretching for leniency in defining such situations. For example, R. Yechiel Ya’akov Weinberg (Seridei Eish, Orach Chaim no. 6 — in the new edition) deems a bar mitzvah boy to be the only person capable of leading services at his bar mitzvah. I suspect that a mourner and someone observing a yahrtzeit would also qualify, despite his mispronouncing Hebrew. This would explain the cases I have seen where a mourner who cannot properly pronounce Hebrew leads prayers throughout the year of his mourning. His courage is commendable and the congregation’s leniency is, I suspect, due to the mourner being irreplaceable in that situation.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

59 comments

  1. What say you regarding ayin and ches, and the other letters lost to Ashkenazim? I say those two and differentiated kuf, and have experimented with tes and tzaddi. I can’t see that getting mainstreamed.

  2. “The minority of Jews who have received sufficient Jewish education to allow proper prayer in Hebrew face a dilemma regarding their less educated co-religionists. Can a Jew who is incapable of properly pronouncing the prayers lead the community services?”

    i think you’re being overly sanguine regarding the ability of that minority to pronounce hebrew properly

    “when the public is used to the mispronunciation, such as an established member of the community, there is no problem with him leading services”

    similar logic is used for not correcting a baal kore who mistakes in mapik heh, etc.

  3. I cannot imagine allowing a person who pronounces words in a fashion that changes their meaning would be allowed to daven.
    1. This would violate both of Rashi’s premises
    2. We don’t paskin like Sefer HaManhig in Tur OC 156 who permits someone reading to continue uncorrected in order not to embarass him.
    A shul that allows an avel to daven like this is an avlah. A viable solution is to teach him how to daven correctly.

  4. Yitz, tet and tzadi? Do you mean tet and tav?

    “Most Hebrew dialects today…have apparent deficiencies.”

    This assumes there was once a “correct” Hebrew at all. We know there were different dialects/accents even in the time of Tanach.

  5. I think the difficulty is in defining properly pronounced Hebrew. See the post from June on Lithuanian pronunciation of the cholam which might lead someone from Western Europe or the Middle East to think Torah is being pronounced completely incorrectly.
    This also does not take into account someone who can pronounce the Hebrew reasonably well but fails to take into the account the proper grammar by ignoring commas and periods.

  6. That’s Sefer haManhig in Tur OH 142.

  7. I’m continually disappointed and distracted by aveilim of limited Jewish educational background who subject the kahal to their consistently fractured Hebrew.

    They have no problem hiring piano tutors for their kids. Why can’t tefilla betzibur be shown the same respect? Why can’t they hire an Ivrit tutor?

    “Courageous” is not the adjective I would use to describe their behavior, nor is it commendable.

  8. aiui no one can “demand” the amud, it belongs to the congregation.
    KT

  9. Gil and Avi

    Why do mourners lead prayer services,in other words what is the underlying halachic premise or principle. And how does the underlying premise distinguish between pronunciation expertise levels.

  10. JOEL RICH:

    “aiui no one can “demand” the amud”

    most certainly anyone can demand the amud. it is up to the gabbai whether or not he gets it.

    JOSHUA JOSEPHS:

    “I think the difficulty is in defining properly pronounced Hebrew.”

    i think it is defined within the context of a community’s mesorah for pronounciation.

    “This also does not take into account someone who can pronounce the Hebrew reasonably well but fails to take into the account the proper grammar by ignoring commas and periods.”

    i think you mean syntax rather than grammar, strictly speaking. but in any case, there is a view that when leining a baal kore should be corrected if he replaces a mafsik (pausal trop) with a mesharet (non-pausal trop). indeed, in one yemenite shul i was in the gabbai corrected the baal kore when he didn’t parse the pasuk correctly.

    AVI:

    “I’m continually disappointed and distracted by aveilim of limited Jewish educational background who subject the kahal to their consistently fractured Hebrew.”

    most people even with an advanced jewish education background garble their hebrew. its just a matter of degree. if you don’t realize this then either you live in an unusual community or you yourself are a garbler.

  11. R’Abba,
    a distinction without a difference – my point is a community can set standards and enforce them if it so chooses.
    KT

  12. Abbas Rantings,

    If something is distracting, than your last few points are irrelevant.
    On a different note,theatrical productions in a religious/spiritual setting always annoyed me.

  13. yitznewton: What say you regarding ayin and ches, and the other letters lost to Ashkenazim?

    Rav Henkin said to change those pronunciations but not other Ashkenazic sounds. But I just try to be normal and follow what I was taught.

    Abba: i think you’re being overly sanguine regarding the ability of that minority to pronounce hebrew properly

    Not everyone wants to learn or has someone to teach them. You can’t plan when you will be an avel. It just happens.

    Gedalia Wallis: I cannot imagine allowing a person who pronounces words in a fashion that changes their meaning would be allowed to daven.

    You’ve never seen a Chassidishe person with the “ee”s and “ay”s daven in a non-Chassidishe shul?

    2. We don’t paskin like Sefer HaManhig in Tur OC 156 who permits someone reading to continue uncorrected in order not to embarass him.

    It’s also Tosafos in Avodah Zarah and I know a rav who paskens like it.

    Nachum: This assumes there was once a “correct” Hebrew at all. We know there were different dialects/accents even in the time of Tanach.

    And we know that some of those dialects were wrong.

    Avi: I’m continually disappointed and distracted by aveilim of limited Jewish educational background who subject the kahal to their consistently fractured Hebrew.

    We want to encourage participation, not chase away people who lack education or don’t follow the long list of obscure rules that aren’t enforced in most shuls.

    Avi: If something is distracting, than your last few points are irrelevant.

    Surely you can give up your concentration during Chazaras HaShatz every once in a while in order to make people feel welcome in shul.

  14. MINYAN LOVER:

    “If something is distracting, than your last few points are irrelevant.”

    i’m not sure why its irrelevant. i’m just pointing out that “distracting” is relative. and that before people vent about how aveilim and others garble hebrew they should understand their own hebrew may not really be up to par.

  15. JOEL RICH:

    ” my point is a community can set standards and enforce them if it so chooses.”

    if you think this is so simple, can i assume then you’ve never been a gabbai? 🙂

  16. I think it’s worth keeping in mind that a shaliach tzibbur today isn’t actually motzee anybody, unlike when the rules about fit shelichei tzibbur were written. [Leining and birkat kohanim may be in different categories than the sha”tz for tefillah].

  17. R’ Abba,
    I think I’ve been everything you can be in a shul :-), the problem is not the gabbai, it’s does the community have the backbone to set reasonable standards (my experience has been that the community will set standards for important things, like does a sweater with a zipper qualify as a jacket for purposes of a dress code for shatz, but not whether ability to pronounce words is a prerequisite- I think it’s like some NBA players get 3 steps because “that’s his game” )
    KT

  18. Nachum:

    No, tzadi, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsade

    My first roommate in frum life was an Iraqi BT who also was interested in havarah, that didn’t help 🙂

    Gil: I’m naturally eccentric, so I have to remind myself to be normal sometimes. Hearing the spectacle of another guy layening who really gets into the ayin and ches, helps.

    Was R’ Henkin’s focus on ayin and ches derived from the Gemara that mentions those two? Or..?

  19. GIL:

    “Not everyone wants to learn or has someone to teach them. You can’t plan when you will be an avel. It just happens.”

    i understand that aveilim are taking center stage for this discussion, but its really not just about aveilim.

    “It’s also Tosafos in Avodah Zarah and I know a rav who paskens like it.”

    in a couple of places R. Moshe Rosenberg has written about the imperative of kevod ha-beriyos vs. correcting leiners. i understood his point, but i think there needs to be a distinction between volunteers (particularly youngsters) on the one hand and professionals (or those who should know better) on the other hand.

  20. >>And we know that some of those dialects were wrong.

    Gil,
    Whatever do you mean by this? First, as a sociolingistic point dialects (or pronunciations/accents) cannot be “wrong”, especially when they are accepted by a large group. But furthermore, you seem to be referring to some evidence within tanach, and I have no idea what you are referring to.

  21. MDJ:

    i assume that biblically gil is thinking of shibboleth. i’m not sure what the peshat of “yachin” means, but rabbinically it seems to be interpreted that the ephratim couldn’t pronounce the shin “properly”

    and in the gemara it is clear that people from the north can’t come to the tevah (whatever that means) because their pronouciation is “wrong.” of course this is a halakhich consideration and not a sociolinguistic one?

  22. Well, I assumed he was talking about shibboleth, but in that context, correctness is only vis a vis those looking for the password. It’s not any sort of objective assessment.

    As for the gemara, it is clear that halacha recognizes preferred pronunciations. But the comment Gil was replying to specifically referred to Tanach.

  23. R’Joel Rich is absolutely right. No one has the “right” to be the shatz. He is the shaliach of the community and such has to go according to the standard and minhag of the community. For years I have been dovening in a Chassidishe shul but is still disconcerting when I hear “Hayom haras olam”,which to my Sephardi ears sounds like the opposite of its meaning. Our shul allows using any havara but the pronounciation must be correct according to that havara.

  24. DAVID TZOHAR:

    “is still disconcerting when I hear “Hayom haras olam”,which to my Sephardi ears sounds like the opposite of its meaning.”

    so haras bothers you but not hayom?
    (i.e., should be hayyom, with a dagesh hazak, difference being definite article vs. interrogative)

  25. MDJ:

    can’t think of a good example now, but i wonder if orthographical changes (sometimes more than simple orthography) between earlier and later books in tanach (esp. divre hayamim), particularly with regard to names, indicates different (or evolving) pronounciations?

  26. Yes, I was referring to Sibboles and was reading it through the Talmudic lens.

  27. Abba: i understand that aveilim are taking center stage for this discussion, but its really not just about aveilim.

    It is also about bar mitzvah boys and newcomers to the community.

  28. GIL:

    yes.
    but all i’ve been saying here is that the deficiencies of aveilim, bar mitva boys, newcomers, etc. need to be put into context. most of those who rail against them don’t really know hebrew that much better.

    (incidentally, if there is to be any critique of the bar mitzvah boys it should be with their teachers)

  29. Actually I’m always amazed when I read poskim discussing proper pronunciation, as if they read with proper pronunciation themselves. Maybe some of them did so privately, but I’ve never heard any posek read Hebrew “properly.” Does anyone else have a different experience? And I don’t mean pronouncing the hholem as /o/ or something like that.

  30. R. Dovid Lifschitz was very careful with his pronunciation. I have to believe that Rav Henkin and Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky were, as well.

  31. Ye’yasher kochakha, R. Student.
    See also http://text.rcarabbis.org/what-are-the-halachot-of-switching-one%e2%80%99s-pronunciation-of-hebrew/
    Parenthetically, when RJDB once served as the sheliach tzibbur (grammatical note: sheliach tzibbur, *not* shaliach tzibbur) for minchah at RIETS in 5767, his pronunciation sounded markedly different that the way he writes in Tradition. I asked him afterward to explain. He responded: “There’s an accepted way how to transliterate leshon hakodesh in academic circles…”

  32. on changing pronounciation also see article by r. turkel in rjj journal

  33. Oops…
    R’ Melech, please forgive my “shaliach tzibbur” comment. I was not specifically responding to you. I only realized afterward that you used the expression. Certainly, your usage legitimately reflects the sociological reality of Yiddish-speaking Jews (much like the terms “kavod hatorah” [which should be “kevod hatorah”], “gadol hador” [which should be “gedol hador”]) or “makom kavu’a” (which should be “mekom kavu’a”)]. The influence of Yiddish is such that the effort to place the accent on the penultimate syllable overrides the notion of semikhut.

  34. >R. Dovid Lifschitz was very careful with his pronunciation. I have to believe that Rav Henkin and Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky were, as well.

    They distinguished between hheth and khaf and so forth? That’s . . . hard to believe.

  35. R’ Melech,
    Thank you again for your kind mechilah.
    Actually, upon further contemplation, I realize in the case of “shaliach/sheliach tzibbur”, since there are three syllables in the word shaliach/sheliach, a Yiddish-speaking Jew who endeavours to place the accent on the penultimate syllable would prima facie have no reason to prefer “shaliach” over “sheliach”. However, I think the reality is that Yiddish-speaking Jews say “shaliach tzibbur” (rather than the grammatically correct “sheliach tzibbur”) precisely because they are accustomed to overriding the notion of semikhut in the case of two syllable words (like “kavod”, “gadol” and “makom”, as previously illustrated). Thus, “shaliach tzibbur” it is a case of “lo plug” among Ashkenazim, so to speak. As Rashbam to Bava Batra 73a (s.v. Amar Rabbah) comments, even the everyday conversation of Talmidei Chakhamim merits careful study.

  36. >However, I think the reality is that Yiddish-speaking Jews say “shaliach tzibbur”

    I think that most say “shliach,” two syllables. Distinguishing between sheva na and nach isn’t really a forte of Ashkenazim, Yiddish speaking or otherwise

  37. Thanks, R’ S., for the tip.
    By the way, it’s the same sociological phenomenon with “Sefer Bamidbar”. Gramatically speaking, it’s really “Sefer Bemidbar”, since it is a case of semikhut (“Bemidbar Sinai”). But due to a “lo plug”, Ashkenazim say “Bamidbar”.

  38. I don’t think anyone has raised this, so:

    Do any of the poskim suggest that none of this is an issue today, because the shliach tzibur isn’t really motzi us anymore?

  39. Abba,
    I wouldn’t think so, since (almost) all of those changes are in imot hakriah, I think. AT most, it might indicate a lengthening of vowels, though I will concede that that may have been a real difference then, though not necessarily.

  40. Hirhurim,

    You misquoted avi, you misunderstood my second point and you didn’t respond to the first question. On a different but related note will you make room for me in the mens section to make me feel more welcome next time I want to pray with an orthodox minyan.

  41. Sorry… I myself erred at 1:19 p.m…. “Makom kavu’a” is 100% correct. “Kavu’a” is an adjective rather than a noun, and so there is no grammatical concept of semikhut in that expression. [Compare Leviticus 6:4 – “makom tahor”.] I should have instead used the expression “makom torah” as an example. “Makom torah” is really “mekom torah”. Thank you.

  42. >By the way, it’s the same sociological phenomenon with “Sefer Bamidbar”. Gramatically speaking, it’s really “Sefer Bemidbar”, since it is a case of semikhut (“Bemidbar Sinai”). But due to a “lo plug”, Ashkenazim say “Bamidbar”.

    I disagree. You can say “Bemidbar Sinai,” but not “Bemidbar . . . *crickets chirp*.” I’m not saying that it’s grammar which motivates calling it “Bamidbar,” but it happens to be right.

  43. S: They distinguished between hheth and khaf and so forth? That’s . . . hard to believe.

    I believe Rav Henkin did. Reb Dovid didn’t but he pronounced Hebrew grammatically correct in terms of vowels and emphasis.

    minyan lover: I literally copied and pasted from Avi so it’s hard to understand how I misquoted him. I didn’t respond to either of your points. Regarding why aveilim lead services, some have that minhag. It’s a development from Mourner’s Kaddish. Regardless of how the minhag developed, some feel very strongly that they need to do it out of respect for the dead.

    On a different but related note will you make room for me in the mens section to make me feel more welcome next time I want to pray with an orthodox minyan.

    I can’t find a heter for that. I can find a heter for allowing someone who mispronounces Hebrew to daven from the amud.

    Steve: Do any of the poskim suggest that none of this is an issue today, because the shliach tzibur isn’t really motzi us anymore?

    Not to my knowledge.

  44. “Regarding why aveilim lead services, some have that minhag. It’s a development from Mourner’s Kaddish”

    I have actually heard the opposite- the original minhag was to lead services, which morphed into “kadish yatom” for orphans who, because of their age, could not lead services. This was in a shiur on YU Torah if you are interested (perhaps the one by R. Ari Kahn? I forget…). In any case, the idea of both is that it somehow provides a zechut for the niftar that her descendants lead others in prayer (and specifically, generate responses from others).

    Since someone else has already brought in the gender angle, by the way, I hope that your “We want to encourage participation, not chase away people who lack education or don’t follow the long list of obscure rules that aren’t enforced in most shuls” would at least apply to women saying kaddish as well, even if some people don’t like it. You can certainly “find a heter” for that…

  45. Hirhurim: “Yes, I was referring to Sibboles and was reading it through the Talmudic lens.”

    You mean the “Sa Bel”/”Sabol”/”Sabil” midrashim? Correct me if I’m wrong but the EARLIEST place this tradition appears is in Seder Eliyahu (sometimes between the 7th and 9th centuries CE, with material as late as (at least) the 10th century). None of the earlier midrashim (or the Yerushalmi/Bavli) have this reference that I know of, even though there are numerous earlier midrashim (including Tanchuma and Midrash Rabbah) that discuss this specific pasuk (i.e. how it was foretold by Yaakov’s bracha to Yosef’s sons).

    These sources are obviously coming to add important layers to the psukim, but reading these midrashim as making a point (let alone a definitive point) about the relative correctness of ancient Hebrew dialects is, shall we say…tendentious.

    The point stands, therefore, that even in the time of Tanach there were different pronunciations of Hebrew. (And this is aside from the other linguistic markers of change; to take one example, the history of use of the poetic masculine suffix ‘-mo’).

  46. The point stands, therefore, that even in the time of Tanach there were different pronunciations of Hebrew.*** (And this is aside from the other linguistic markers of change; to take one example, the history of use of the poetic masculine suffix ‘-mo’).

    *** Without any indication that one was more “correct” than the other.

  47. I have always declined offers to be a Baal Tefilah for Musaf on the Shabbos either before or on the Yahrtzeit for my father ZL simply because I am not a Baal Mnagen. If offered, I will serve as a Baal Tefilah during the week or for Psukei DZimrah or for Shacharis. If a Gabbai tells me that there is a Simcha on Shabbos, I am more than happy with receiving any aliyah, except for Maftir. IIRC, R Nevenzal discusses in one of his Sichos that R Y Salanter generally declined to serve as a Baal Tefilah so as to avoid undue Machlokes. IMO, and I recognize fully that others may differ,I think that learning is a far better way of obtaining an Aliyah for the Neshama of the Niftar or Nifteres.( See the Aruch HaShulchan in Hilcos Aveilus who points out the similarity between the spelling of Mishnah and Neshamah)

    I recall that many years ago, the Gabbaim in the YIKGH tried to do away with someone who had Yahtzeit automatically being chosen as a Baal Tefilah-even and especially if the person’s Nusach HaTefillah was not what would be called Mrutzah LKahal or worse. It caused such an uproar that a special membership meeting at which RFS appeared, which he rarely did in his years as the Moreh DAsrah, and advised those present that the choice was in their hands. Based upon those developments and IIRC, a resolution voted on at that meeting, the old practice of a Yarhtzeit having precedence became effective again.

  48. I have actually heard the opposite- the original minhag was to lead services, which morphed into “kadish yatom” for orphans who, because of their age, could not lead services
    ============================
    Based on the r’ akiva story it was clear that shatz was the preference.

    R’SB-I have a friend who says having parents die makes you an orphan, not a chazan.
    KT

  49. Hirhurim

    Please see your earlier comment bates number 8:27 am.your last point to avi was in response to a quoted sentence that was mine.

  50. R. Gil,

    Of course we want all to feel welcome in shul, including (even especially) aveilim of limited background.

    I just don’t see why tefilla is not granted the minimal respect it deserves by devoting some time and effort to improving one’s skills.

    I’m sure most people wouldn’t think of delivering a presentation without practicing beforehand until it’s as good as possible.

    The kehilla (and HKBH) are no less worthy an audience.

    There should be an attempt at striking a balance, whilst making all feel welcome.

  51. Shalom Spira: Thank you. I didn’t realize it is sheli’ach tzibur with a shev”a. I try to be careful about those matters and I will try to autocorrect this as well in the future.

  52. Avi, the problem is that a large number of Orthodox Jews have basic reading issues that needs full and complete remedial work, not some practising or other. These Jews, who are quite a large minority, have to learn how to read all over again.

  53. If the yeshiva world was really about doing things properly (which it always claims to be), it would hire sephardim to teach all pre1A classes so that the next generation of Jews would know how to pronounce the “ayin,” etc.

  54. The briefly discussed Kaddish Yatom tangent, reminded me of this interesting observation from R. Zvi Hirsch Chajes in Minchat Kenaot that I discovered courtesy of Leon Wieseltier’s masterly “Kaddish”.

    ״ומה שספרו לי כי באתה מקומות הנהיגו כי אין האבלים אומרים קדיש יתום כל אחד בפני עצמו, רק הש״ץ עומד על הבימה ואומר קדיש והאבלים עומדים סביב לו ואומרים אחריו מלה במלה, בין שאינם יודעים בין אותן שיודעים, ולדעתי היה תקנה טובה שלא לבייש את מי שאינו יודע״

    http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=43015&st=&pgnum=17

  55. The English translation (from the book) in case anyone wants it, is:

    “I have been told that in some places the practice has been instituted that the mourners do not recite the Kaddish each on his own, but the leader of the prayers stands on the bima and recites the Mourner’s Kaddish and the mourners stand around him and repeat after him word by word, whether they know the words or not. In my opinion, this is a good reform since it saves those who do not know the words from embarrassment.”

    http://tinyurl.com/3et3aqg

  56. “Rafael Araujo on July 28, 2011 at 1:01 pm
    Avi, the problem is that a large number of Orthodox Jews have basic reading issues that needs full and complete remedial work, not some practising or other. These Jews, who are quite a large minority, have to learn how to read all over again”

    Not every Jew has the potential to be good reader-I don’t know of any lawyer who can’t read well-law is a word game.

  57. Another issue to explore is (attention: pet peeve and strong language ahead ;-)), when Ashkenazim adopt Beginners’Hebrew (erroneously referred to as Sefardi pronunciation), they often remain totally clueless as to the difference between the qamats qatan and gadol. Same for the ‘hataf qamats, which is always qatan.

    I am frankly quite amazed to hear rather educated Jews say such nonsense like chachma and kal (kaf-lamed, not quf-lamed). Other examples abound.

  58. Thank you, R’ Melech, for your gracious response.
    R’ S., interesting point there regarding Bemidbar vs. Bamidbar. In other words, I am claiming we should duplicate the original text, and you are claiming we should modify the original text to fit the new grammatical context. [Perhaps our dispute parallels the dispute in Menachot 62a whether “don minah uminah” or “don minah vi’okei bi’atrah.] As a support to you, I observe that people say Parashat Mishpatim rather than “Hamishpatim” (as in the original), people say Parasha Pekudei rather than “Fekudei” (as in the original), people say Parashat Shemini rather than “Hashemini” (as in the original), people say Parashat Metzora rather than “Hametzora” (as in the original). and people say Parashat/Sefer Devarim rather than “Hadevarim” (as in the original). On the other hand, Chazal avoided these problems by speaking of Chomesh Hapekudim and Mishneh Torah.

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