Shabbat Parashat Bamidbar| 5767
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Question: Sometimes a minyan does what is called a heiche kedusha (=hk), where the chazzan says Shemoneh Esrei (= SE)aloud through Kedusha before anyone has said the silent SE, after which everyone davens quietly. When this is done, should the tzibbur start SE along with the chazzan or answer the beginning of SE and begin their own SE after Kedusha?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch and Rama discuss starting SE along with a chazzan in two different contexts. One is where the tzibbur did things normally, but a latecomer is ready to start SE when chazarat hashatz is about to begin (Orach Chayim 109:2). The other is where, for extenuating circumstances, e.g., the end time for davening is approaching, the tzibbur wants to do hk (Rama. OC 124:2). (We will discuss neither the question of when a congregation should choosethe hk system nor the origin of our minhag that the chazzan stops reciting aloud after Kedusha.)
In the former case, the Shulchan Aruch describes the individual as starting to recite SE along with the chazzan. Rav Ovadya Yosef posits that this is the correct approach both regarding the case of the individual and that of hk (Yalkut Yosef, vol. I, pg. 279). Even though one should normally not answer Kedusha during one’s silent SE, he may in this case because he is reciting it in its correct place along with the tzibbur (see Tosafot, Berachot 21b).However, the Rama says that the individual should preferably commence SE only after answering Kedusha. The Mishna Berura (ad loc.:14) cites significant Ashkenazic opposition to the Rama. They say that it is fine to start with the chazzan and it may be preferable, especially in Shacharit, where the alternative is answering Kedusha at the precarious juncture of “Shira Chadasha.”
Regarding hk, the Rama (ibid.) talks about starting along with the chazzan, as long as someone delayed starting SE in order to answer Amen.This seemingly answers your question. However, the Rama referred to a case where there was not enough time to daven normally, and some commentaries understood that there was not even enough time to start SE after Kedusha. If there were, it would be proper for the tzibbur to wait (Mishna Berura 124:8). This, then, answers your question in the opposite direction. It is unclear what the issue is. It could be a matter of having people answer Amen to the berachot, which is more of an issue for a tzibbur than for an individual (implication of Divrei Chamudot, Berachot 4:15). Alternatively, the problem could be answering Kedusha in the midst of one’s SE. If it is the latter, as the Magen Avraham (109:9) implies, the reason may no longer apply (see Levushei Serad, ad loc. – we cannot presently address the details).
There are significant reasons to say that it is preferable for the tzibbur to start SE together. The Kaf Hachayim (OC 124:10) points out that when everyone listens to the chazzan,he appears to be doing chazarat hashatz for them, but it is not possible to do chazarat hashatz before the tzibbur has said the silent SE. Rav H. Schachter posits that it is appropriate to say Kedusha only in the appointed place within one’s SE. During chazarat hashatz, it is as if the whole tzibbur is in the midst of SE. However, regarding hk,where everyone is reciting their own SE, if one has not begun yet, Kedusha is not in the right place (Nefesh Harav, pg. 126). Rav Schachter also reports that Rav Soloveitchik had the practice of beginning SE with the chazzan in hk.
Both positions on your question have significant support, and the stakes seem low, as the participants in the debate agree that under pressing circumstances the other approach can be followed. Yet, the majority opinion and the more prevalent practice for Ashkenazim is to wait until after Kedusha before starting SE during hk (at least for Mincha, when hk is more common). People who follow Rav Soloveitchik’s rulings start along with the chazzan.
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