[Avodah] partnership minyanim

Chana Luntz Chana at kolsassoon.org.uk
Mon Feb 18 06:18:29 PST 2013

RSN kindly quoted links to the following articles:


>all in response to--


Which is an article by Rabbi Barry Freundel on Hirhurim entitled Putting the
Silent Partner Back Into Partnership Minyanim - in which he states - "Yet
there has, to the best of my knowledge and research, not been any formal
attempt to discuss in writing whether these practices are or are not
Halakhic. In effect, Halakhah has been the silent partner in the development
of Partnership Minyanim."

Rabbi Freundel discusses a number of points, and in an Avodah post I do not
scope to respond to all of them, but I would like to focus on his main
discussion, that surrounding the leading of services (including non
obligatory, customary services such as kabbalat Shabbat) as opposed to Torah
readings.  If I am summarising him correctly, he appears to be saying that
while there are discussions in the Talmud regarding aliyot for women and
kavod hatzibbur, there is no reference in the Talmud to kavod hatzibbur in
relation to prayer services and particularly prayer services for women.  He
then cites as Meiri, which he quotes as " often cited as a critically
important source supporting the arguments of those who see aliyot for women
as acceptable", but which, as he correctly points out, does not discuss
prayer services in any great detail, although it does deal make reference to
what is the critical halachic question, which is what is the situation for
minors [katanim]. There is more at the end of his piece regarding a Tosephta
and some various discussions about the nature of Kabbalat Shabbat and

However it is somewhat astounding, to my mind, that Rabbi Freundel brings
this Meiri, Tosepheta and other sources, but does bring what I would
consider the more authoritative halachic literature on the subject.  In my
view, the key halachic source is rather this Beis Yosef Orech Chaim Siman 53
(letter 2):

ומדברי רבינו ודברי המפרשים שכתבתי משמע בהדיא שקטן אינו רשאי לירד לפני התיבה
אפילו באקראי בעלמא ויש לתמוה על מה שנהגו שקטן יורד לפני התיבה במוצאי שבתות
להתפלל תפלת ערבית ואפשר לומר דלא הקפידו חכמים אלא בתפלת שחרית שיש בברכת יוצר
ובתפלה קדושה וגם שצריך שליח ציבור לחזור התפלה להוציא הרבים ידי חובתן וקטן
כיון דלאו בר חיובא הוא אינו מוציאם כדתנן כל שאינו מחוייב בדבר אינו מוציא את
הרבים ידי חובתן ושמעתי שהרב ה"ר יוסף אבודרהם קרא תגר על מנהג זה שנהגו הקטנים
לירד לפני התיבה במוצאי שבתות והסכים על ידו הרב הגדול מה"ר יצחק די ליאון ז"ל
לבטל המנהג ומצאתי להרשב"א שכתב בתשובה )ח"א סי' רלט)  בשם הראב"ד דטעמא דתנן
דקטן אינו פורס על שמע ואינו עובר לפני התיבה דכיון דברכות ותפלות דרבנן נינהו
וקטן שהגיע לחינוך דרבנן הוי אמינא אתי דרבנן ומפיק דרבנן קמ"ל דמשום כבוד
הצבור לא עבדינן גנאי הוא לצבור שהקטן מוציאן עכ"ל. ולפי טעם זה יש מקום למנהג
לומר שהצבור מוחלים על כבודם ואפילו למאי דפירש רש"י דטעמא דמתניתין משום דכל
שאינו מחוייב בדבר אינו מוציא את הרבים ידי חובתן איכא למימר דתפלת ערבית שאני
דרשות היא (ברכות כז:)

"And from the words of our rabbi [the Tur] and the words of the commentators
that I wrote it is derived explicitly that a katan is not permitted to go
down before the ark even only on a casual basis and there is to wonder on
that which is the custom that a katan goes down before the ark on Motzei
Shabbatot and prays the prayer of Arvit, and it is possible to say that the
Chachamim were not makpid [particular] except on the prayer of Shachrit in
which there is the brachot of Yotzer and in the amidah that of kedusha and
also since it is necessary for the shaliach tzibbur to repeat the amidah to
exempt the majority from their obligation and a katan since he is not a bar
chiyuva [obligated] is not able to exempt others as is taught all who is not
obligated in a matter is not able to exempt the majority from their
obligation, and I heard that Rav Yosef Abudaram reproached this custom that
they were accustomed that katanim went down before the ark on Motzei
Shabbatot and the great Rav Yitzchak d’ Leon agreed to nullify this custom.
But I found that the Rashba writes in his teshuva (Chelek 1 siman 239) in
the name of the Ra’avid that “the reason that it is taught that a katan does
not recite the shema and does not go before the ark is since the blessings
and the prayers are rabbinic, and a katan that reaches chinuch [educatable
age] is obligated rabbinically one might have thought that a rabbinically
obligated person can come and exempt a rabbinically obligated person
[Brachot 20b]  therefore we learn that because of kovod hatzibbur [the
honour of the community] we do not do so, since it is a disgrace to the
community that a katan exempts them.”  And according to this reason there is
place for the custom to say that the community is mochel its kavod [forgives
its honour] and even according to the explanation of Rashi that the reason
for our mishna is because all who are not obligated in a matter cannot
exempt the multitude from their obligation there is to say that the prayer
of Arvit is different since it is reshut (Brachot 27b)." 

And so he poskens in the Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim siman 53 si'if 10:

יש ללמוד זכות על מקומות שנוהגים שהקטנים יורדין לפני התיבה להתפלל תפלת ערבית
במוצאי שבתות

There is to learn zechut on the places where the custom is for the katanim
to go down before the ark and to pray the prayer of arvit on Motzei Shabbat.

Now it should be noted that the Rema in the Darchei Moshe responds to this
by saying:

(ג) ואין בינינו מנהג זה וגדולה מזו כתב מהרי"ל (שם סע' ח) מי שנעשה בן י"ג
שנים בשבת אינו יכול להיות שליח ציבור בערבית בליל שבת לפי שאנו מוסיפים מחול
על הקודש בערב שבת והוספה זו לא שייכא בשנות הנער ומאחר דמתפללין מבעוד יום לא
יתפלל. ושמעתי שבמדינת זכש"ן שהנערים קטנים נעשים שליח ציבור ארבעה שבועות קודם
הבר מצוה ולא נהיגין הכי עכ"ל:
(3)There is not amongst us this custom and greater than this the Maharil
writes (there siman 8) that one who becomes 13 years on Shabbat is not able
to be shaliach tzibbur in arvit on the night of Shabbat because we add chol
to kodesh on erev Shabbat and this addition is not relevant to the years of
a lad, and since we pray while it is still day he should not pray.  And I
heard that in the country of Zachshin that the minor boys are made shaliach
tzibbur on the four weeks before their bar mitzvah and they should not do

And in the Shulchan Aruch he comments:

. הגה: ובמקומות שלא נהגו כן, אין לקטן לעבור לפני התיבה אפילו בתפלת ערבית,
אפילו הגיע לכלל י"ג שנים ביום השבת אין להתפלל ערבית של שבת, דהרי עדיין אין
לו י"ג שנה (מהרי"ל).

Rema: And in the places where this is not the custom do not do so, and a
katan cannot go down before the ark even for the prayer of Arvit, even if he
reaches 13 years on the day that is Shabbat he does not pray the prayer of
Arvit of Shabbat since behold he has not yet had 13 years (Maharil).

It should further be noted that the Dagul Mervava that I have says:

ולע"ד שלכן כתב המחבר במוצ"ש והא ודאי דמ"ש לאו דוקא רק לאפוקי ליל שבת ששם יש
ברכה מעין שבע, והרי בזה מוציא י"ח למי ששכח ולא הזכיר של שבת ואמנם  בב"י כתב
עוד טעם לפי שתפלת ערבית רשות ולפי שהדרכי משה כתב שאין בינינו מנהג זה קצרתי

And according to me that this is why the Mechaber writes on Motzei Shabbat
and behold indeed, it is not Motzei Shabbat davka but only to exclude the
night of Shabbat where there is the bracha of mein sheva, and behold in this
there is exempting of obligation to one who forgot and did not recall
Shabbat, but in the Bet Yosef he writes a further reason that according to
that which the Arvit prayer is reshut and since according to the Darchei
Moshe he writes that there is not amongst us this custom I have been brief.

But note that Rav Ovadiah Yosef in Yabiat Omer Chelek 9 Orech Chaim siman
100 letter 4 appears to have a different version of the Dagul Mervava as he

וע' בדגול מרבבה (בסי' נג) דמ"ש הש"ע ערבית של מוצ"ש, בא לאפוקי ערבית של ליל
שבת שיש בה ברכה מעין שבע, אלא דלפי מ"ש בב"י משום שתפלת ערבית רשות גם בליל
שבת הנוהגים כן יש להם ע"מ שיסמוכו. ע"ש.

"And see the Dagul Mervava siman 53 on that which the Shulchan Aruch writes
regarding Motzei Shabbat, and he comes to distinguish Arvit of the night of
Shabbat on which there is in it the blessing meain sheva, rather even
according to that which the Bet Yosef writes because the prayer of Arvit is
reshut also on the night of shabbas those who are accustomed to do so have
on whom to rely, see there."

The point being, as can easily be seen from these sources, that distinctions
can and are made within halacha between those parts of the prayer service in
which the leader needs to exempt the obligations of others, where a katan
cannot fulfil those roles and others where he may, but where there may be
issues of kovod hatzibbur.

It seems to me that without these sources you cannot have a meaningful
discussion about the topic, and that it is rather odd that they have not
been quoted in favour of a Meiri.

Now I would also note that while Rabbi Zev Farber Partnership Minyanim: A
Defense and Encomium is unhappy that Rabbi Freundel, warns "the reader that
this phenomenon might “split the community.” And argues that offering an
option that many Orthodox people (even rabbis) consider to be halakhically
valid is not what splits the community. What splits the community is the
threat from one group to declare the reasonably defended practice of another
to be illegitimate." - I do think it is fair to say that Rabbi Freundel's
position mirrors that of the Bach Orech Chaim siman 53 letter 2 who is
similarly concerned that if some communities are mochel their kavod, and
others are not, then you will have "in Israel agudot agudot this community
would be mochel and this community would not be mochel" - and therefore
holds that wherever Chazal say that something is done for the kavod of the
tzibbur, the tzibbur cannot be mochel - and hence one can never roll the
sefer torah in front of the community etc.  But most people appear to bring
the other reason given by the Bach here (namely the Taz (siman 53 si'if
katan 2, Magen Avraham siman 53 si'if katan 9) why in the case of using a
katan as shaliach tzibbur the community cannot be mochel, because this is a
matter of kavod shamayim -  in the words of the Bach:

אלא פירושו שאין זה כבוד הצבור שישלחו לפניו יתעלה מי שאין לו הדרת פנים להליץ
על הצבור דאף לפני מלך בשר ודם אין שולחין להליץ על הצבור אפילו אם הוא חכם
גדול אלא אם כן שהוא בעל צורה ויש לו הדרת פנים שנתמלא זקנו כל שכן לפני מלך
מלכי המלכים הקדוש ברוך הוא דלפי זה אין מקום כלל לומר דמהני למנותו כשרצו
הצבור למחול על כבודם ותו דאי איתא דמהני מחילת צבור בלא נתמלא זקנו

"rather its explanation is that this is not kavod of the tzibbur that they
send before them to go up one who does not have beauty of face [meaning a
beard – Shabbat 152a – the beauty of the face is the beard] to defend the
tzibbur that even before a king of flesh and blood we do not send to defend
the community even if he is a great chacham unless he is also of goodly
stature and there is to him a beauty of face that he has a full beard and
all the more so before the king of kings the Holy One Blessed be He"

Ie the real issue at portrayed by this portion of the Bach, and the part
picked up by the Taz and Magen Avraham is that you would not send a child to
represent a community for an important matter. In past times one would also
almost certainly not send a woman, but I doubt that is the case today - many
countries have female ambassadors - I doubt there are any that have
children.  Whether this changes the nature of this halacha is an interesting

But the real problem with Rabbi Freudel's analysis is, as I have mentioned,
that in his zeal to write partnership minyanim out of Orthodoxy, appears to
be doing a good job to write the Sephardi Community wholesale out of

Because it is not that surprising that the sources discussing what katanim
can and cannot do in a service seem fundamentally and primarily to crop up
amongst Sephardi poskim.  Because the Sephardi approach to chinuch (and this
may not be true of the Spanish and Portuguese, who are after all very
European, I  do not know, but is very much the case amongst the
Gibralterians, Moroccans, Iraqis and various others of my acquaintance)
involves the active participation of katanim in a way that is flabbergasting
to your average Ashkenazi.  Now there is to my mind some considerable
evidence that it works.  An extraordinary number of non religious Sephardim
can not only daven but layn at the drop of a hat, in a way that very very
few frum Ashkenazim can.

Now Rabbi Freudel does note this, but appears to treat it as some sort of
halachic aberration. However it is absolutely standard across many Sephardi
communities for katanim to recite psukei d'zimra, and the discomfit is only
that of Rabbi Feundel.  Indeed after some consideration as to whether
katanim can do more in Mishpachat Uziel krach 3 miluim siman 2 where Rav
Uzziel concludes l'ma'ase like the Magen Avraham and the Taz that they could
not allow the community to have katanim go before the ark for the brachos of
kriyas shema, tephila and musaf (it not being kovod hashamayim to send
katanim)- he suggested psukei d'zimra as the appropriate solution.

Similarly, Rav Ovadiah Yosef has a discussion about the topic of what
katanim can and can't do in Yabiat Omer Chelek 9 Orech Chaim siman 100 –
which is a series of comments on the book “Kiryat Hannah David” of Rabbi
David HaCohen Sakli. In letter 4 Rav Ovadiah discusses a comment of Rabbi
Sakli in siman 24 where he apparently says "that there are communities in a
few places where it is customary for the katanim to go down before the ark
in shachrit with the prayer of repetition and there is to them on which to
rely.  And they should not nullify their custom."

Now after bringing the Bet Yosef that I brought above, and the Shulchan
Aruch (and noting the Rema) Rav Ovadiah continues:

ומעתה לגבי שחרית או מנחה לכל הדעות אין לנהוג כן, ואפי' למ"ש הרשב"א שאלמלא
משום כבוד צבור אתי דרבנן ומפיק דרבנן, י"ל שהרשב"א לשיטתו במגילה (יט ב) שהקטן
עצמו חייב מדרבנן, משום חינוך. אבל לשיטת רוב הראשונים שהקטן עצמו אפי' הגיע
לחינוך אינו חייב כלל במצות אפי' מדרבנן, וכל מצות חינוך מוטלת על האב דוקא


לפיכך אין הקטן שהוא פטור אפי' מדרבנן יכול לעבור לפני התיבה אפי' בתפלה דרבנן.

ודי לנו לקיים המנהג בתפלת ערבית, וכמ"ש מרן, משום שהיא רשות, וגם אין בה חזרת
הש"ץ, וכמ"ש המג"א (סי' נג ס"ק יב). 
והבו דלא להוסיף עלה לעשות כן בתפלת שחרית או מנחה.

"And now in connection with Shachrit or Mincha according to all opinions we
do not conduct ourselves so, and even according to that which the Rashba
writes that were it not for kovod hatzibbur one obligated rabbinically would
come and exempt one obligated rabbinically, there is to respond that the
Rashba is going according to his position in Megila (19b) that a katan
himself is obligated rabbinically, because of chinuch.
But the position of the majority of the Rishonim is that a katan himself
even if he reaches the age of chinuch is not obligated at all in mitzvoth
even d’rabbanan, and that all the mitzvah of chinuch falls davka on the
father, like that which Rashi writes in Brachot (48a).

... [Many references omitted]

Therefore a katan who is exempt even rabbinically is not able to pass before
the ark even for a preayer which is d’rabbanan.  And it is enough for us to
fulfil the custom of the prayer of arvit and like Maharan [the Shulchan
Aruch] wrote because it is reshut, and also there is not in it chazarat
hashatz and like the Magen Avraham wrote in siman 52 si’if katan 12. And he
brings that we do not add onto this to do so in the tephila of Shachrit or

Rav Uzziel in the teshuva quoted above also discusses another common
practice, where  the katan says whatever it is, and the gadol next to him
says the words under his  breath, or after him, or together, or the
community says them after him, and therefore arguably the katan is not
exempting anybody. Rav Uzziel is not keen, to say the least, but it is a
very common practice - just at the various local Sephardi shuls in London we
have come across katanim saying the kaddish of the shaliach tzibbur that
way, and bits of kedusha, and various bits in the brochos of the shema that
are generally sung or repeated (and perhaps it should also be noted that in
my very staid Ashkenazi shul, there is a choir which includes katanim, who
sing various parts of the service, albeit generally together with gedolim,
or in response to the shaliach tzibbur) - but the extent of Sephardi
involvement of katanim goes way beyond this.

And reflecting this the poskim have clearly set out a hierarchy which is at
work in the parts of the tephila.  From the Brachot of the Shema and on in
Shachrit, Musaf and Mincha, there are, aside from a few defences like that
of Rav Sakli, universal opposition to katanim being shatz.  Given the
position of the Shulchan Aruch, there appears to be grudging acceptance of
katanim saying arvit, except for arvit of Shabbat (perhaps), although the
poskim are not keen.  Saying the lesser parts of the service like psukei
d'zimra are, however, completely accepted. 

Kabbalat Shabbat itself in most Sephardi shuls appears generally sung in
unison, so does not particularly involve katanim - the role of the katanim
on a Friday night is most often then to recite Shir HaShirim and B'meh

Nut the general line of the halachic sources therefore does seem to me to
support Rav Farber's division as summarised by Rabbi Freundel of:

"1) The classic function to say certain prayers out loud either on behalf of
the congregation as a whole, e.g. Kaddish and Barkhu, or on behalf of
individuals who do not know how to recite the prayer on his or her own,… 2)
to set the pace and melodies of the prayers. He then assumes different rules
for the individuals who perform these two different functions."

Rabbi Freundel then states:

"But R. Farber presents no sources for this dichotomy in halakha or for
women being allowed to fill role #2. He presents two rationales in Rishonim
for the repetition of the amidah that might fit definition #1, but no
sources that discuss or present model #2. Most importantly, he presents no
sources that suggest different rules for who may perform this second
function, which again he creates whole cloth without a textual basis."

It seems to me that the textual basis is adequately provided by the
distinctions made between what parts of the service katanim can and cannot
say, according to the Bet Yosef, Dagul Mervava (who brings in Magen Avot as
being precisely the distinction between Arvit on Friday night and Arvit the
rest of the week) Rav Ovadiah Yosef and Rav Uzziel as brought above.

And while the quote from the Tosephta is all very nice - it is clearly not
used as the basis in any form of Sephardi psak to exclude katanim from the
various parts of the services that they commonly perform.  The fact that
Rabbi Freudel feels a level of discomfit in seeing such common Sephardi
practices does not render them non halachic, or outside of Orthodoxy.
Rather than relying on the juxtaposition of references to girls and boys and
men in a Tosephta to create a whole halachic framework unsupported by later
authorities, it seems far more relevant to discuss key sources such as that
of the Bet Yosef and Shulchan Aruch, the use of kovod hatzibbur in this
context by the Rashba and following him the Shulchan Aruch and the various
commentators, both for and against allowing a community to be mochel, and
when - as well as the distinction between reshut and chova in arvit versus
shachrit clearly making a halachic distinction between whether a katan can
in fact be shaliach tzibbur or not - and the clearly accepted and normative
position that psukei d'zimra, being even a lower level of tephila that the
reshut of arvit, being completely mutar for ketanim.



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