- Question: [Monday, 5th Shevat 5781]
Does a person who is in middle of Shemoneh Esrei count as one of the nine answers towards Chazaras Hashatz, and does it make any difference if he begins Shemoneh Esrei exactly with the Chazan. In essence, what is one to do if there are only eight people who can answer, and one person is up to Shemoneh Esrei. Does it help for him to begin with the Chazan to count as one of the nine or must we wait until he finishes Shemoneh Esrei.
In such a case, the person who is up to Shemoneh Esrei and cannot answer is to go up and be Chazan for Chazaras Hashatz, hence gaining the original Chazan as the ninth answer. The other alternative is to wait for him to finish his own Shemoneh Esrei, and then have the Chazan begin Chazaras Hashatz. In my opinion, according to the rulings of the Alter Rebbe one may not rely on those who are lenient to consider one who begins Shemoneh Esrei together with the Chazzan, as one needs nine people actually answering.
Explanation: There is a dispute amongst the Poskim as to whether one requires six or nine answers to for the Shemoneh Esrei to have the status of Chazaras Hashatz [as opposed to mere Kedusha recital]. Now, the Alter Rebbe rules clearly that nine answers are required by Chazaras Hashatz [as opposed to mere Kaddish and Kedusha recital in which everyone agrees that only six are required]. Hence, while other sects of Jewry are accustomed to be lenient to begin Chazaras Hashatz as soon as there are six answers, in Chabad Minyanim we may not rely on this and must wait until there are actually nine answers available [unless it is a time of great need for the congregation, and they would choose to lose Chazaras Hashatz, and simply repeat the Shemoneh Esrei aloud for the sake of the Kedusha, in which case the ruling would be that someone who has not yet Davened Shemoneh Esrei is to be the one who goes to the Amud, and he only says until Hakeil Hakadosh out loud]. Now, one who is in middle of Shemoneh Esrei obviously does not count as one of the nine answers as he cannot answer Amen to the blessings and is not required to pay attention to the Chazaras Hashatz, and hence not only is there not nine answers but there isn’t even nine people concentrating on the repetition, and hence certainly he is invalid to join. However, some Poskim suggest that an exception to this would be somebody who starts Shemoneh Esrei together with the Chazan, as since he reads word for word together with the Chazzan therefore he is considered just like the Chazzan himself, and just as the Chazzan joins as one of the 10 even though he is not an answer, so does this individual, as he too is exempt from answering Amen being that he too is considered a Chazzan who does not answer Amen to his own blessings. Practically, however, while there is room to analyze the merits of this argument, it seems from the clear words of Admur that nothing else but nine physical answers who verbalize the word amen are valid, and having more than one person count as a Chazzan does not make it count as two out of the 10. Vetzaruch Iyun.
Sources: Poskim who rule that one must have 9 answerers of Amen: Admur 55:11 that to do Chazaras Hashatz one requires nine listeners and answers of Amen; Admur 56:4 that one needs 9 listening to the Chazan; Admur 594:1 that without nine people answering Amen it is not considered a community prayer and does not have the status of Chazaras Hashatz; Poskim who rule that 6 answerers suffice even for Chazaras Hashatz: Maharil, brought in M”A 55:8 and M”Z 55:19; Piskeiy Teshuvos 55:11; 124:9; Poskim who rule that one who starts Shemoneh Esrei with the Chazan counts as one of the nine answerers: Bris Kehuna [Kalfon] Mareches Ches 11; Rav SZ”A in Halichos Shlomo 2; Yimei Yosef O.C. 4; Sefer Halacha Berurah [Yosef] 90:28 and Biurim 19 that so also ruled Harav Ovadia Yosef; Piskeiy Teshuvos 124:9; Poskim who argue on the above notion: Bris Kehuna [Kalfon] Mareches Ches 11 in name of Harav Matzliach Mazuz; See Mishkanos Yaakov O.C. 73; Shraga Hameir 7:2; The ruling of Admur on the above: See Admur ibid who constantly writes 9 listeners and answerers of Amen to one person saying it, which negates the above novelty. See also Admur 109:3 that the person who says word for word with the Chazan is considered like an actual Chazzan and that the congregation is answering also to his Shemoneh Esrei, hence implying that an additional nine answerers would be needed. Vetzaruch Iyun as according to this ruling we should also require that there be none people listening to the Kaddish of one sayer, and hence if two people are saying Kaddish simultaneously, one does not count.