Question: Many shuls will be having additional minyanim for the Yamim Nora’im this year to enable social distancing. May the chazan of an earlier minyan daven at the amud a second time at a later minyan?
Short Answer: Rav Hershel Schachter shlita has recently ruled that it is permitted for one person to serve as chazan for multiple minyanim, but he should not repeat his Sh’moneh Esrei at the later minyan. There is ample precedent in other Acharonim for this procedure where there is no other person available to serve as chazan.
I. Background of Chazaras HaShatz
The Gemara (Rosh HaShanah 34b) explains that the reason why the chazan recites Chazaras HaShatz is to be motzi (i.e., fulfill the obligation of) those individuals who do not know how to recite Sh’moneh Esrei themselves.
The Beis Yosef (Orach Chayim 124:3) cites the Rambam (P’eir HaDor 148) who explains that we recite Chazaras HaShatz nowadays regardless of whether there is an individual in shul who does not know how to recite Sh’moneh Esrei himself, because the Rabbis enacted the rule for all situations. This is similar to Kiddush in shul on Friday night – even though it was principally enacted for guests who needed to hear Kiddush, the enactment was made for all situations, regardless of whether there actually is a guest in that particular shul. If the enactment was based on a case-by-case basis, we would need to walk around and ask each individual whether he knows how to recite Sh’moneh Esrei, an untenable and embarrassing situation. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 124:3) follows this Rambam.
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 124:2) also holds that if a chazan walks into a minyan that is about to begin Chazaras HaShatz and he himself has not yet recited the silent Sh’moneh Esrei, he may recite Chazaras HaShatz for the minyan. He does not need to recite the silent Sh’moneh Esrei after he is finished, as his Chazaras HaShatz, which is motzi others, certainly fulfills his own obligation.
II. The Mishnah B’rurah
The Mishnah B’rurah (124:5) has an important comment, in the name of Acharonim. If a person already recited the silent Sh’moneh Esrei and now is asked by a later minyan to serve as chazan, he may recite Chazaras HaShatz at the later minyan without reciting another silent Sh’moneh Esrei.
The Tzitz Eliezer (16:14) notes that even though the Mishnah B’rurah only states that if a “person already recited the silent Sh’moneh Esrei...,” the source of this Mishnah B’rurah, the Ya’avetz, is discussing a case where the person also heard Chazaras HaShatz at the earlier minyan. The Tzitz Eliezer notes that despite the imprecise language of the Mishnah B’rurah, the Mishnah B’rurah likewise holds that the person can serve as chazan at the second minyan even where he previously heard Chazaras HaShatz at the first minyan.
The Tzitz Eliezer compares it to a separate law in the Shulchan Aruch, the complicated law of “poreis al Sh’ma” (Orach Chayim 69:1). Under this law, a person may recite an abridged Chazaras HaShatz /K’dushah for a latecomer who missed K’dushah at the regular minyan. Clearly, the fact that the person already heard Chazaras HaShatz does not prevent him from being motzi the latecomer. This works because we say “Kol Yisrael areivim zeh la’zeh,” that all Jews are responsible for each other and can help others fulfill mitzvos, even if they themselves have already fulfilled the mitzvah.
Notably, the Tzitz Eliezer concludes that, just as by “poreis al Sh’ma,” it is certainly better if someone who did not daven yet serves as chazan. See Mishnah B’rurah (69:1).
III. The Query of the Riv’vos Ephraim
The Riv’vos Ephraim (2:83) likewise cites the Shulchan Aruch (69:1) and rules that a person who already heard Chazaras HaShatz may nevertheless serve as chazan at a later minyan if there is no other option. He adds that the Mishnah B’rurah (69:17) appears to rule that even where the person served as chazan at the earlier minyan, he may still serve as the chazan a second time at the later minyan.
However, the Riv’vos Ephraim is unsure whether there must be ten people besides this chazan at the second minyan or whether it is sufficient to just have nine other men at the second minyan. Although the case of “poreis al Sh’ma” appears to imply that even only one person who never davened is sufficient, the Riv’vos Ephraim cites Rav Nota Greenblatt shlita who thought that the second minyan must have ten other people besides the chazan, as the chazan was already yotzei the takanas Chachamim of Chazaras HaShatz.
The Divrei Yaakov (B’rachos 21a) notes that the language of the Chazon Ish (19:7) similarly suggests that ten people besides the chazan are required at the second minyan.
IV. The Recent P’sak of Rav Hershel Schachter
Rav Hershel Schachter shlita (Piskei Corona #49) recently ruled that for the Yamim Nora’im this year, a shul may have the same person serve as chazan for multiple minyanim.
After citing many of the above proofs, as well as the rule of “Kol Yisrael areivim zeh la’zeh,” Rav Schachter reasoned that it is permitted, similar to a kohen who brought the korbanos of many separate individuals.
Importantly, Rav Schachter noted that we follow the Birkei Yosef, instead of the Ya’avetz (see Mishnah B’rurah, above), that the chazan should not recite the silent Sh’moneh Esrei again at the second minyan. Moreover, he certainly should not recite the birchos k’rias Sh’ma. Rather, another person should serve as chazan for every other part of davening except for Chazaras HaShatz.
This author is unsure whether Rav Schachter limits his ruling to this year because of the virus, or whether this is permitted even l’chatchilah in all years.
Next Week’s Topic: Should an outdoor Shacharis minyan blow shofar during Elul where there is a chance that the early morning blowing will disturb local residents, or is it preferable to blow shofar by Minchah?