A secular person must not be allowed to serve as a cantor at a synagogue, Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has ruled. If the synagogue manager erroneously allows it, worshippers had better go back home and pray alone — rather than take part in such a quorum.

In honor of the High Holidays, Shas journal Yom LeYom published a collection of relevant halachic rulings made by the ultra-Orthodox Sephardic leader.

“A person who commits an offense, such as shaving his beard with a knife, must not be appointed as a cantor. And even leading a prayer by chance, for example on the anniversary of his parents’ death — is forbidden,” the rabbi was quoted as saying

“Moreover if he desecrates Shabbat, even if not defiantly, he is disqualified from leading a prayer. And if the synagogue managers are not properly religious and appoint such a person as a cantor, each of the congregation members had better pray at home on their own rather than pray at the synagogue with such a criminal cantor.”

Rabbi Yosef called on synagogues to hire regular paid cantors in a bid to prevent such a mishap.

“It is more fitting to take a paid cantor than a voluntary cantor, because in a place where the cantor is regular and receives a salary, he makes certain to arrive for prayers on time and is very cautious in leading the prayer… If it were free, anyone would jump on the opportunity.”

The collection also contained a ruling, which the rabbi voiced in one of his weekly sermons last month, that a person who educates his children in non-religious institutions is disqualified from serving as cantor, as are judges in civilian courts and those who appear before them.


  1. You would think with all the problems we face today we would stop with this nonsense and concentrate on real issues.

    Why is he worried about other people and other sects? Concentrate on your people , there is plenty of work in your back yard


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