The Appointment of Hazzanim in Medieval Ashkenaz: Communal Policy and Individual Religious Prerogatives
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During the pre-Crusade period in medieval Ashkenaz, a cantor or prayer leader (hazzan, shaliah tsibbur)1 was considered to be not only an important communal functionary, but also a veritable respository of prayer. The hazzan knew the prayers thoroughly and, to a large extent, by heart; he knew the traditions of the complex religious poems, piyyutim, which the community recited (and was often capable of adding to those piyyutim); and he was a source of law, practice and instruction with respect to prayer.2 Indeed, even during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and beyond, the cantor was frequently a leading rabbinic scholar of the community, who combined the necessary areas of knowledge and the requisite set of cantorial skills, together with a reputation for unassailable observance, piety and devotion to the community.3
Kanarfogel, E. (2009). The Appointment of Hazzanim in Medieval Ashkenaz: Communal Policy and Individual Religious Prerogatives. In. Howard Kreisel, et al. (eds), "Spiritual authority : struggles over cultural power in Jewish thought" (pp. 5-31). Beer-Sheva : Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Press.
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