By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
I was approached by someone who asked me to write an article about the short mincha that is davened in some Yeshivos. I want to start with the proper disclaimer that no one should pasken based on this article, but rather seek guidance from a Rov or Rosh Yeshiva.
I want to approach this from two directions. Firstly, what is the reason we have chazaras hashatz? Secondly, why do we have this question of short or long davening only for Mincha?
The Gemara teaches us in Rosh Hashana, daf lamed daled that Chazal were mesaken that a shaliach tzibbur should daven Shemoneh Esrei out loud so that those who don’t know how to daven may be yotze from his tefillah. Rabban Gamliel was asked if this is so, why does the tzibbur daven quietly? He responded that in this way the Shaliach Tzibbur should have time to prepare for the chazaras hashatz. (As an aside, this could make a nafka mina in what nussach the shaliach tzibbur davens the quiet Shemoneh Esrei if he happens to daven a different nussach than the tzibbur.) Rabban Gamliel says that the Shaliach
Tzibbur is motzi both the person who knows how to daven and the person who does not know how to daven. The Rambam states the following idea and we see it brought down in Shulchan Aruch as well. Despite the fact that we don’t have anyone who is not a baki and therefore the Shaliach Tzibbur is not motzi anybody; nevertheless, the tzibbur must answer amein so the tefilla should not be a bracha levatala. We see that the takana of chazaras hashatz continued even if there is no one to be motzi.
It is interesting to note that during his time the Rambam was mevatel chazaras hashatz and everyone davened together with the Shemoneh Esrei of the shaliach tzibbur. The Rambam felt it would be a chillul hashem otherwise since everyone already davened their own Shemone Esrei and when the Shaliach Tzibbur would say it again people would talk and spit in shul and the goyim who see this may say that the Yidden are not davening properly. The Rambam was therefore mevatel chazaras Hashatz. His son Reb Avraham was unsuccessful in continuing his father’s tradition since there were a lot of Rabbonim including the Radvaz who disagreed with this position and felt that there won’t be kedushaand birkas Kohanim so chazaras hashatz was reinstated.
I just want to add that according to a kabbala of the Ari z”l, the second Shemone Esrei is greater than the first one. Notwithstanding this kabbala, I want to discuss based on Halacha whether a short mincha is acceptable or recommended. Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky in his sefer Emes L’Yaakov says that in Yeshivos where everyone knows how to daven there is really no need for chazaras hashatz. Therefore, in a lot of Yeshivos there is the minhag of daveningthe short version of Mincha. In Slabodka they would daven a short Mincha after shiur klali because during chazaras hashatz the bochurim would argue about the shiur klali and the chazaras hashatz would be disturbed. They therefore established a short Mincha. That being the case; if one is in a work place where they could daven a long Mincha but the decorum of chazaras hashatz would not be proper, it is better for them to daven a short Mincha. There is a misconception that the reason for davening a short Mincha is because of bittul Torah. That cannot be the case since the short Mincha is davened even on Friday when there is no seder after Mincha. On a fast day, when the Shaliach Tzibburhas to say anneinu, there is no short Mincha. Reb Aharon Kotler paskened that on Chanukah and Purim where there is a mitzvah to be mefarsem the nes by saying al hanisim, no short Mincha is davened.
The reason this can only take place at Mincha and not Shacharis is because during Shacharis there is a requirement of saying geulah next to Shmone Esrei. Hence the reason we don’t daven a short Shacharis. The Rema in siman resh lamed bais says that if one is davening Mincha late and there won’t be enough time before shkia, it is recommended that they should daven a short Mincha. The best scenario would be is if we all daven a long mincha with the proper decorum and not talk in shul and we will be able to even gain the kabbala aspect from chazaras hashatz.