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May a Volunteer Chazzan Back Out At The Last Minute?

Rav Eliezer Cohen

Question: A member of a shul serves as the chazzan on the Yomim Noraim on a volunteer basis. One year, he informs the gabbai on Erev Rosh Hashanah that he has decided that he will be going to his parents for Yom Tov and will not be able to fulfill his duties. Is he permitted to do this?

 Answer: Although a po’el, an hourly worker, may quit in the middle of a job, he is not allowed to do so if he would be causing his employer a loss by quitting. The Poskim discuss whether a volunteer has the same status as po’el in this regard or not.

The Rama rules that a volunteer has the right to back out at any time, even if he will be causing a loss by doing so. The Shach disagrees. He says that the volunteer has the right to demand payment, but he cannot simply leave his position if he will be causing a loss.

The Chazon Ish says that the halacha is like the Shach; therefore, this man would have the right to ask to be paid the standard salary of a chazzan, but he may not walk away from the job.   

 

Question: What if the shul is able to find a replacement chazzan, but they would have to pay him a high salary, would the volunteer chazzan be obligated to cover the cost?

Answer: No. Since they would have to get money from the chazzan, he is the muchzak, and they would have to prove that he is obligated to pay. He could claim that he holds that the halacha is like the Rama, which would exempt him from paying, and since he has the upper hand, they would be unable to force him to pay. 

 

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This month’s shiur has been sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Avigdor Fried, in memory of שלמה בן אביגדור משה ז”ל, מלכה בת משה ע”ה, יצחק יעקב בן אליהו ז”ל, רבקה בת גבריאל חיים ע”ה

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