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What kind of power or status does a Cantor hold in the Jewish Community?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

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The cantor’s primary role is leading the community in prayer. Thus, his importance and status is actually determined by the congregation—the more important prayer is to the congregants, the more important of a role the cantor plays.

If the community finds prayer to be a form of entertainment, they will retain a cantor who is a good singer/entertainer.

If a community finds prayer to be a source of inspiration, the cantor they have will be one with the ability to inspire through song.

If a community finds prayer to be an intimate moment in conversation with G-d, they will seek a cantor who will be a G-d fearing pious individual
If a community finds prayer to be an intimate moment in conversation with G-d, they will seek a cantor who will be a G-d fearing pious individual who pours out his heart in prayer, and helps the congregants pour out their hearts to G-d.

In Judaism, prayer is the obligation of each individual, and is not relegated to members of the clergy. A cantor merely leads the crowd as each individual prays [and at times, through his prayers exempts those who can’t pray on their own].

In the past, in many small communities the cantor served as a semi-rabbi by default; since they had no rabbi and the community was ignorant. This is very rare today, but it still happens in some remote Jewish communities which are without a rabbi.

A cantor may also be commissioned to teach youngsters who are approaching the age of Bar Mitzvah how to read Hebrew and how to read from the Torah.

For more about cantors, see What is a chazzan?


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RELATED CATEGORIES

Mitzvot » Prayer » Synagogue

Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.