Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Praise the Lord

I saw in my shul a list of guidelines for a shali'ah tzibbur (precentor) that a local organization has compiled and placed in the appropriate position. It was reviewed by a rabbi of significant standing. One of the guidelines struck me as improper.

The list states that, after "Bar'khu," the shali'ah tzibbur should say "Barukh Hashem ha-mevorakh..." with the congregation rather than alone after the congregation. This is surprising because it is clearly contrary to the standard practice. The list gives as its source the Mishnah Berurah 57:3. Now, even if the Mishnah Berurah says this, is it really proper to promulgate in synagogues this unique ruling that is contrary to the prevalent practice? I don't think so.

The Tur (57) quotes two views regarding whether the shali'ah tzibbur should say "Barukh...," with the Maharam of Rothenburg saying not to and R. Yehudah of Barcelona saying to do so. The Beis Yosef quotes the sources more fully, and it seems that R. Yehudah of Barcelona is following the ruling of R. Sa'adia Ga'on regarding one who is called to the Torah. Such a person, according to R. Sa'adia Ga'on, should repeat "Barukh..." just as someone leading the grace after meals should repeat the introductory "Barukh she-akhalnu mi-shelo..." Looking in those sources, there is no indication that any of those repetitions should be at the same time as the congregation's recitation. Nor is it the standard practice to do so. To the contrary, the rishonim use the word "lahazor" which, it seems to me, implies that the precentor should repeat after the congregation.

The Shulhan Arukh (57:1) is even more clear that the shali'ah tzibbur repeats it after the congregation.

The Mishnah Berurah (57:3), in a bracketed remark, states that it is difficult to him why the shali'ah tzibbur says it on his own since he is then not saying it with a minyan (congregation). That's it. He does not say not to do so, just that it is difficult to him why this should be done.

It also seems clear from the subsequent note in the Mishnah Berurah (4), regarding a shali'ah tzibbur who says "Amen" and then "Barukh...," that he is assuming the standard practice of reciting "Barukh..." after the congregation.

I looked in R. Hayim Kanievsky's summary of Mishnah Berurah, Shoneh Halakhos, and he gives no indication that the Mishnah Berurah was suggesting deviating from the Shulhan Arukh's ruling and the standard practice.

I pointed this out to my rabbi and he suggested I call the people up. But I know that they are trying to do good and I don't want to discourage their communal service by being picky.

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