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Hilchos Brachos 53 (page 163)
מסעיף ו עד סעיף יא


Must One Have a Beard in Order to Serve as Chazan?
Affirming Adulthood
Adulthood for Mitzvos D'rabonon

Must one have a beard in order to serve as chazan?
It is unbefitting to appoint a youth between the ages of 13 and 17 who has not yet sprouted a beard to be the regular chazan. According to some poskim, a youth in this category should not serve as chazan even on a one-time basis if there are older, qualified people available. It is permissible to be lenient and allow a youth who is an avel to daven ma'ariv from the amud. Likewise, some poskim are lenient if the majority of the congregation consists of young people whose beards have not sprouted (e.g. a high school minyan). From the age of 18, a person can be appointed chazan if his beard is starting to sprout. According to the Mechaber, someone without a trace of beard can be appointed chazan once he reaches the age of 20; according to the Gra, the matter is subject to a machlokes.
( סעיף ו ו־ח, ס"ק כז, וביה"ל ד"ה אבל וד"ה יוכל; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 34)
Affirming adulthood
A minor is not obligated in mitzvos and cannot exempt others from their obligation to perform mitzvos until he reaches adulthood. Adulthood is determined by two factors:  age and physical maturity. If after reaching the age of thirteen he grows two hairs in designated spots on his body or grows a significant amount of facial hair (even if it is short), he is considered an adult. The thirteen years are considered complete at the onset of the evening of his thirteenth birthday, even if he was born late in the day.
( סעיף ו ו־י וס"ק כה, לב ו־לג; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 35)
Adulthood for mitzvos d'rabonon
Regarding mitzvos d'rabonon, there is a chazakah that any child who reaches the age of thirteen has reached adulthood even if it is not established that he has produced the proper hairs. This chazakah cannot be relied on for mitzvos d'oraisa because a small but significant number of people don't produce the necessary hairs upon coming of age. Additionally, a chazakah cannot aid in deciding a d'oraisa issue when the information needed can be easily verified.
( ס"ק כה; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 37)



 
  • A person with a bad reputation should not be appointed as chazan even if the alleged incident occurred in his youth and he has since repented.
  • People who sinned before they were aware of proper Torah conduct (e.g. today's ba'alei teshuva) are not penalized for their previous ways.
  • The poskim discuss whether the chazan should recite his personal Shemoneh Esrei in his native nusach or the shul's nusach.

  • Drawing out the words of tefilla

  • Serving as chazan in a shul with a different havarah (pronunciation)

  • Can a person who is vision or hearing impaired serve as ba'al korei

 





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