Shabbat Parashat Noach| 5771
Ask the Rabbi: Singing Kedusha along with the chazan
Question: When we sing sections of Kedusha, some people sing along with the chazan and some just hum the tune. Is there a right or a wrong way in this matter?
Answer: Let us first note that Kedusha is a series of three important p’sukim (Kadosh, Baruch k’vod, and Yimloch), each preceded by an introductory passage (Nekadesh, or Nakdishach for Sephard, Le’umatam, and U’vidivrei), with additions for Shabbat. Many hummers are concerned that it is forbidden to say the words along with the chazan.
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 125:1, based on Shut Harosh 4:19) says that no one but the chazan should recite Nakdishach at all. The Machatzit Hashekel (to Magen Avraham 125:1) and Mishna Berura (125:1) explain that this passage was instituted for the chazan, as shaliach tzibbur (representative of the congregation) to prompt the congregation, who would respond with the p’sukim alone. The Beit Yosef is uncertain as to whether this idea applies to the other introductory passages as well. In practice, we do say Nekadesh (and Sefardim often sing it together- see Yabia Omer, VII, OC 14). This can be attributed to a few things: 1) The Taz (125:1) questions what the issue could be about saying these passages, especially as the Shulchan Aruch (OC 109:2) rules that one who starts Shemoneh Esrei along with the chazan’s chazarat hashatz says Kedusha with him word for word. 2) The Ari (cited in Ba’er Heitev 125:1) says that one should recite all of Kedusha along with the chazan silently. 3) The minhag is to say Nekadesh. (The Aruch Hashulchan 125:2 says that the minhag is to say only Nekadesh and not Le’umatam and U’vidivrei; on Shabbat, the minhag is to say the long additions).
What about repeating these words a second time? The Rama (OC 125:1) says that one should not speak during Kedusha. The Magen Avraham (125:1) says that one should not even learn without speaking but should listen to the chazan. However, he says that this restriction does not apply when the chazan is singing tunes without words or during the extended passages for Shabbat, which are not critical to Kedusha. If so, restrictions on saying extraneous things or usurping the chazan’s role at that point are also not likely an issue. Although the poskim advise not to talk until the end of the beracha after Kedusha (see Mishna Berura 125:9, in the name of the Maharil), it appears that the issue is of disrespect to Kedusha. The poskim on the above issue do not say that unnecessary recitation is a hefsek (formal interruption). Only when words are repeated nonsensically to fit in with a musical piece is that an issue (see Yabia Omer, VII, OC 14; Igrot Moshe, OC II, 22). Singing the words of Mimkocmcha, for example, should not have that problem.
There is an issue when, with religious/musical fervor, the congregation drowns out the chazan. One problem, disgrace to the words, should apply to all of Kedusha (as above). This should not be such a problem when people say the appropriate words, albeit not in the classical manner of the chazan alone being audible, but in a way many feel inspiring. Presumably, it is a problem when people are “stringent” to hum, but so loudly that the words are not heard clearly from anyone. Another problem is that those who are in the midst of Shemoneh Esrei need to hear Kedusha, as they cannot recite it. It is a machloket (Az Niddbaru II, 60 - yes; Igrot Moshe, OC III, 4 - no;) whether they can fulfill this by hearing people other than the chazan say the words, considering that they do not have in mind to do it on the davener’s behalf. However, this applies specifically to the p’sukim of Kedusha (see Halichot Shlomo, Tefilla 8:38), which are less commonly sung.
The following is our advice. During Kadosh and Baruch k’vod (and perhaps the final words of L’umatam and U’vidivrei), the chazan should be heard clearly, and the congregation should do no more than hum quietly. During the longer Shabbat additions, people may sing along as they like, and if this competes with the chazan’s voice, they should recite the words. (If one plans to do this, it is preferable to refrain from saying it while the chazan is waiting).
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