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Shabbat Parashat Noach 5777

Ask the Rabbi: An Israeli Being a Chazan Abroad Before Dec. 5

Rav Daniel Mann

Question: If a “chiyuv” to be a chazan is abroad between 7 Cheshvan and Dec. 5th, is it okay for him to be a chazan? Does he say “v’ten tal umatar livracha,” (=vtum) during his silent Shemoneh Esrei (=SE) and chazarat hashatz?

We discussed the matter of travelers to chutz la’aretz during this time of year in Living the Halachic Process (II:A-11), and we start with a summary. If an Israeli is abroad on 7 Cheshvan and will be returning during the year, he should start asking for rain on 7 Cheshvan. While some say to do so in its regular place, it is preferable to make the request during the beracha of Shomeiah Tefilla, due to a machloket on the matter. If he started reciting vtum in Israel and traveled later, it is even clearer that he should continue doing so, and there is more reason for him to do so at its regular place.

One can question permissibility to be chazan on two grounds. One is the question whether someone who is obligated in one form of SE can function on behalf of a tzibbur that is obligated in a different form. Regarding the matter of an Israeli being chazan for a chutz la’aretz community on second day of Yom Tov, this is a daunting halachic problem (see Bemareh Habazak II:36). One can claim the same issues apply here. However, stringency requires making several assumptions (see responsum of Rav C.P. Scheinberg in Yom Tov Sheni K’hilchato, p. 415-423), and it is very unlikely that all of them are correct. The great majority of poskim say that this is not a problem (see Minchat Yitzchak X:9, Yom Tov Sheni 10:6). Therefore, he can serve the tzibbur according to their needs, which is to not say vtuv. (Yalkut Yosef (5745 ed., vol. I, p. 264) says that even within chazarat hashatz he should unobtrusively whisper vtuv during Shomeia Tefilla. However, that is practically and halachically problematic, and is not accepted practice.)

Another issue is how the chazan deals with his conflicting needs during silent SE. On the one hand, he is obligated to have a SE that includes vtum. On the other hand, Chazal instituted silent SE for a chazan who is about to recite chazarat hashatz (which is a valid SE), in order to practice for that task (Rosh Hashana 34b). If our traveler says vtum in its regular place, he is practicing in a way that would ruin his chazarat hashatz, which makes his SE self-defeating. Yet, the Birkei Yosef (117:8) says that this is what he does. He cites as a source the Taz’s (117:2) idea that a community that needs rain at a time when vtum is not said can ask in Shomeia Tefilla (including the chazan) even though chazarat hashatz cannot be done that way.

Several poskim see this setup as not problematic at all (see opinions in Yom Tov Sheni K’hilchato 10:(17)), while others prefer avoiding the situation (see B’tzel Hachochma I:62; the Birkei Yosef also implies it). It likely depends on whether we say the idea of practicing is just the original reason to institute silent SE or that it remains the practical guide for how the chazan does the SE. Another application is the question whether a chazan uses his own nusach for silent SE when leading a shul with a different nusach. The Minchat Yitzchak (VI:31) justifies what he claims the minhag is to use one’s own nusach, by saying that it is enough that he does chazarat hashatz from a siddur. In contrast, Igrot Moshe (OC II:29) posits that the practice SE should be done as chazarat hashatz will be, i.e., like the tzibbur.

As a chiyuv, you have certainly have the right to be a chazan, whether because of the opinions that there is no problem or because being precluded from being chazan is a b’dieved situation. We add the following suggestion (not requirement). If the chazan adds personal requests in Shomeia Tefilla, he should say vtum along with them instead of at its regular place, with the following logic. Some poskim say to do so even when not a chazan, he certainly fulfills his obligation, and since the chazan never adds requests in chazarat hashatz, saying vtum will not cause a mistake.

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