Chapter: Chapter 20: Praying with a Minyan

01. Men’s Obligation to Pray with a Minyan and in a Synagogue

The Sages ordained that men pray with a minyan (a quorum of ten adult men) in a synagogue. The Sages teach that the divine Presence dwells wherever ten Jews engage in sacred matters (devarim she-bikdusha), as Scripture states: “Elokim nitzav … Continue reading

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02. Women are Exempt from Praying in a Synagogue and with a Minyan

As we learned (above, 11:1), a woman need not pray with a minyan or in a synagogue, because the prayer in a synagogue is time-dependent, and women are exempt from positive time-bound mitzvot. Although we learned that communal prayer (tefila … Continue reading

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03. Kaddish

Kaddish is unique in that it deals primarily with God’s honor (kevod Shamayim), and therefore, one’s response must be with intense kavana, and one certainly should not chatter during its recitation (SA 56:1; MB 1). The Sages say that anyone … Continue reading

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04. The Various Kinds of Kaddish

There are four versions of Kaddish, which we will identify by name. 1) Half-Kaddish corresponds to the main section of Kaddish. It is called Half-Kaddish to distinguish it from the other Kaddishim which contain further additions. In any part of … Continue reading

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05. Barkhu

Before Birkhot Keri’at Shema, the ĥazan says, “Barkhu et Hashem ha-mevorakh” (“Bless God, the blessed One”), and the congregation responds, “Barukh Hashem ha-mevorakh le-olam va’ed” (“Blessed is God, the blessed one, forever and all time”), and the ĥazan repeats, “Barukh … Continue reading

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06. Ĥazarat Ha-shatz

The Men of the Great Assembly ordained that after individuals finish reciting the silent Shemoneh Esrei, the shali’aĥ tzibur (abbreviated to “shatz” an meaning “envoy of the community”; it refers to the ĥazan) repeats the Amida out loud in order … Continue reading

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07. Some Laws of Ĥazarat Ha-shatz and Responding “Amen”

Three conditions must be present for an individual to fulfill his obligation by hearing Ĥazarat Ha-shatz: 1) the individual must not be proficient in prayer; one who knows how to pray must pray and beg for mercy on his own. … Continue reading

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08. Kedusha and Modim

Kedusha is recited in the third berakha of Ĥazarat Ha-shatz. The essence of the Kedusha is the congregation’s response with the verses: “Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh, Hashem Tzevakot, melo kol ha-aretz kevodo” (“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the … Continue reading

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09. When is it Permissible to Interrupt in Order to Respond to Matters of Sanctity?

We already learned that it is forbidden to interrupt by speaking in the middle of Pesukei De-zimra and Shema and its berakhot. However, for an urgent matter, such as to prevent damage or insult, it is permissible to interrupt (see … Continue reading

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10. Places where it is Forbidden to Interrupt

In cases where one may respond in the middle of Birkhot Keri’at Shema, she may only respond while reciting the main part of it, from the beginning until just before the conclusion. However, once one says “Barukh Atta Hashem” at … Continue reading

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11. Birkat Kohanim

There is a positive biblical commandment for kohanim to bless the nation of Israel, as it is written: “God spoke to Moshe, saying: Speak to Aharon and his sons, saying: This is how you shall bless the Israelites. Say to … Continue reading

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12. Some Laws of Birkat Kohanim

Birkat Kohanim must be recited aloud and in Hebrew. The kohanim must stand and lift their hands toward the congregation. A kohen who cannot meet these conditions may not perform Birkat Kohanim (SA 128:14; Peninei Halakha: Prayer 20:4). Before the … Continue reading

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13. The Audience of Birkat Kohanim

Sefer Ĥaredim (12:18) states that not only the kohanim fulfill a mitzva by blessing the congregation, but the Jews who stand before them in intent silence and respond “amen” also participate in the fulfillment of this biblical commandment. When the … Continue reading

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14. Those Eligible and Ineligible to Perform Birkat Kohanim

The kohanim were commanded to perform Birkat Kohanim, but the blessing itself comes from God and does not depend on the righteousness of the kohanim. Therefore, even a kohen eats forbidden foods, has forbidden sexual relations, or commits other sins … Continue reading

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15. The Institution of Torah Reading

There is an ancient enactment, from the time of Moshe, that the Torah is read in public on Shabbat day, Monday, and Thursdays from a scroll written with ink on parchment, so that three days never pass without the study … Continue reading

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16. The Ĥazan

The ĥazan leads the prayer service. At times, the whole congregation says the prayers together with him while he sets the pace, and at other times (such as Ĥazarat Ha-shatz and Kaddish), he alone recites the prayers, with the congregation … Continue reading

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17. Ĥazanut for the Sake of Heaven

Ĥazanim must have kavana that their singing is the sake of heaven. If they prolong their ĥazanut (cantorial virtuosity) with the sole purpose of showing off their beautiful voices, the Torah states about them, “They have raised their voice against … Continue reading

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18. The Mourner’s Prayer and the Recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish

One who is mourning a parent recites Kaddish during that first year after the death, and it helps save the deceased from harsh judgment; since the deceased left progeny who sanctify God’s name in the world, clearly the deceased’s life … Continue reading

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19. When there is No Adult Son to Recite Kaddish

If one was not privileged to leave behind a son or whose son is not God-fearing and does not come to the synagogue to recite Kaddish for them, a God-fearing grandson may say Kaddish for the whole year. A grandson … Continue reading

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