Sunday, October 09, 2011

What were you doing during Chazaras Hashatz on Yom Kippur?

If the shul I was in is at all representative it wasn't paying attention to every word that the chazan was saying.

Looking around during davening over Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur I noticed 3 different types of people doing 3 different things during chazaras hashatz

1. Learning - Many people come prepared with various seforim and spent much of chazaras hashatz learning. I definitely fall into this category.
2. Daydreaming/sleeping - Some people are simply bored and have nothing to do and therefore daydream or fall asleep during chazaras hashatz
3. Paying close attention to the chazan 

I don't know the exact percentages, but in my experience 3 is by far the smallest group, a very small percentage. There are very few people who pay attention to every word of the chazan. Of course, the truth is many people fit more then 1 category. I for example, spend a lot of chazaras hashatz learning but there are times when I do listen to the chazan and participate, it depends on what is being said etc.

The bottom line is that there is a major problem here. Most people simply do not really pay attention to chazaras hashatz on the Yomim Noraim. The chazaras hashatz simply does not speak to them as a religious experience.

In fact, I believe that this is a problem all year round, as well. It is just that chazaras hashatz on a regular weekday and shabbos are relatively short, so you don't see it. However, even on a regular Monday very few people actually pay attention to chazaras hashatz.

The reason is really simple, we just davened and therefore it is hard to see the relevance of chazaras hashatz to us. We don't feel a connection/need to have the chazan repeat what we just said.

I don't know what the answer is but we need to acknowledge that it is a problem.


Moshe said...

We could try the Rambam's idea:
Abolish Chazarat Hashatz.

SF2K01 said...

I agree with Moshe and I'm all for cutting out all the stuff that created such a bloated service (Year round as well as YK). It'll never happen, but it would make davening more bearable. I don't get into it that much, never have. I love almost everything else about Judaism, but forced communal prayer isn't exactly a spiritual experience. It's a "When it is over" feeling and "Not again." I know how to daven as well as the next guy, but the more spiritual experience for me is my personal dialogue with HaShem that I have every day, not being forced to wait for all the people who do enjoy it to clap their hands and shout them out over and over (or maybe they're faking, I have no idea).

Pragmatician said...

I totally agree. In my experience it's the unnecessary (not found in any machzor) nai nai nai's and oy oy oy's hat are major turn-offs.

Nate said...

Where does the Rambam say to abolish chazarat haShatz? All I know is that he calls it Tefillat haRabim.

Chaim B. said...

It's hard to relate to the piyutim because we have lost our appreciation for poetry. There are shiurim galore around this time of year about the lomdus of the mitzvos ha'yom, the hashkafa of the chagim, etc., but I have yet to see anyone try to give a shiur on the topic of piyutim -- maybe that would be a place to start.
I am more troubled by the fact that at the early minyan I go to on weekdays it seems that the shat"z just mumbles through chazaras hashatz at the fastest speed possible in order to finish quickly and make the train. Forget whether anyone else is listening -- I don't know if he is even paying attention to himself.

Moshe said...


The Rambam is found in his Shu"tim. You can look it up in the Rav Shilat version. I don't have the time to check the exact siman.