Thursday, February 26, 2009

Being a Shaliach Tzibbur

WARNING - this post is heavily biased towards men. Please pardon the bias.

The other day I had the privilege (burden?) of being the Shaliach Tzibbur for Shacharit. Many of you (see warning) are aware that one of the challenges for a Shaliach Tzibbur at Shacharit is saying Tachanun. And I am not talking about the overall institution of Tachanun - which has its supporters and detractors. Rather, I am talking about the massive over-sized siddur which is generally quite helpful to the Shaliach Tzibbur because it has nice big letters. Unfortunately, for most of us the size also becomes a physical burden when it comes to saying Tachanun. How can I read from this humungous tome and lean on my arm at the same time? There actually are a select few individuals who solved this problem because they have memorized all of Tachanun. But how often is a Rosh Yeshiva the Shaliach Tzibbur for Shacharit during the week? Thus, Tachanun can present a major problem for us mere mortals who have only memorized the first line, and cannot hold the mother of all siddurim in our tefillin-wrapped hand.

I finally davened in a minyan that has a (if not THE) solution to this age old problem - a laminated copy of Tachanun that the Shaliach Tzibbur can easily carry to his seat. What a pleasant way to say Tachanun. Freed from the need to focus on holding a super-sized siddur, I was able to concentrate fully on the meaning of the words. It was a pleasure to see a simple solution to a vexing problem.

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