Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chazarat HaShaTz in Women's Tefillah Groups

My understanding is that the original reason for the Chazarat HaShaTz, the repetition of the Amidah prayer by the Shaliach Tzibbur (ShaTz = Messenger of the Community, that is, the person leading the service), was that, prior to the invention of the printing press, when books were rare, people had to pray from memory. Those who couldn't recite the prayers by themselves due to poor memories and/or insufficient education could fulfil their obligation to recite the required b'rachot/blessings by saying "Amen" at the end of every b'rachah/blessing, and therefore, the ShaTz repeated the Amidah aloud for the benefit of those who couldn't say it by heart.

[ ¶ ]

The custom of Chazarat HaShaTz has been maintained to this day despite the almost-universal availability of printed prayer books. Saying the Amidah silently, then aloud, was not originally done in order to enable people to recite the Kedushah section, which some communities recite as part of a single Amidah reading recited aloud.

[ ¶ ]

So what's the problem with a Chazarat HaShaTz in a Women's Tefillah Group? Does not the original purpose--to enable those who can't pray the Amidah from memory to fulfil their obligation by saying "Amen" after hearing each b'rachah--apply equally to women as to men?


Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

The repetition requires a minyan because the wors of the repetion are d'var shebekudusha. That requires a minyan to recite. Even in the days before common prayer books, if there were only 8 men at services the repetition was not recited.

Thu Jul 15, 10:19:00 PM 2010  
Anonymous jdub said...

What Larry said, but also if the woman leading davening has already davened, she cannot allow others to fulfil their obligation since she is no longer obligated in that tefillah.

What our's does is have the leader not daven initially, so they can do the "repetition" as it were, but it's actually her first run through.

Fri Jul 16, 07:55:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...


So the woman leading the Amidah prays the silent prayer in a loud carrying voice? Does she recite the kedusha or the birkat kohanim equivalent? Does the rest of the congregation say the congregational modim when she says the normal one?

Fri Jul 16, 09:41:00 AM 2010  
Anonymous jdub said...

being a man, I've only been to one once as an observer at my niece's bat mitzvah. But the woman does her shmona esreh out loud after the rest have finished. No kedusha. Don't know about modim. But I don't think that the congregational modim is a davar sh'b'kedusha.

Fri Jul 16, 10:25:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

My impression is that the only prayers that are d'var sheh-b'kedushah (that is, prayers that one is not permitted to say without a minyan) are Kaddish, Bar'chu, and Kedushah. So I certainly wouldn't expect to hear any of those prayers in an Orthodox Women's Tefillah Group. But it's true that we don't recite the congregational Modim paragraph or the Birkat Cohanim quote when praying silently. So it's a good question whether one should recite those paragraphs with a WTG.

On the other hand, it's also true that, when we have less than a minyan at our synagogue (which happens frequently, despite the fact that we count women in a minyan), we never say the Amidah aloud, though we do say all the other prayers aloud. The more I think about that practice, the less sense it makes. Wouldn't it make more sense to repeat the Amidah but without the Kedushah, congregational Modim, and Birkat Cohanim quote?

I've heard of the practice of having the Baalat Tefillah (female prayer leader) delay saying her own Amidah until the other women have completed theirs, so she can say the Amidah the once that's required, thus enabling the other women to say "Amen." That's an interesting work-around.

Fri Jul 16, 02:51:00 PM 2010  

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