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Should an Avel lead the prayers also for Pesukei Dezimra?
I am within the year of mourning for my parent and I’m accustomed to lead the prayers daily for Shacharis. Sometimes I am a few minutes delayed for the start time of the minyan and I tell someone to begin Pesukei Dezimra, and that I will switch them by Yishtabach. I recite the Kaddish Derabanon without tefillin and then quickly put on my Tallis and Tefillin so I can catch-up in order to switch him. Someone however recently told me that this is not good thing that I should be praying for the Amud also for Pesukei Dezimra. Can you please clarify this matter?
It is correct that is initially proper for you to lead the prayer starting from Pesukei Dezimra, and therefore you should place effort to arrive to shul on time in order to begin leading the prayers for Pesukei Dezimra. However, in the event that you came late, I do agree that the congregation is not required to wait to start the Minyan, and that you should do as stated above, unless everyone in the congregation is okay with waiting for you to begin.
It is an old custom recorded in the Shulchan Aruch and Poskim for a mourner for the passing of a parent to not only recite Kaddish at its set times, but also to lead the prayers for the Amud, and leading the prayer’s is an even greater merit for the soul of the deceased than is the recital of Kaddish. Now, regarding the question of from where the Chazan should begin leading the prayers. So on the one hand one can rightfully argue, as indeed some Poskim argue, that the main purpose of leading the prayer is to recite the various Kaddeishim which are meant to be recited by the Chazan, and hence there is no need for the mourner to lead the prayers also for Pesukei Dezimra. Furthermore, it used to be customary and so is the custom today in many Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities, for there to only be a Chazan starting from Yishtabach, and hence there was no Chazan at all for the recital of Pesukei Dezimra. Furthermore, even amongst those communities in which it was accustomed for there to be a Chazan for the recital of Pesukei Dezimra, they would often switch Chazanim for Yishtabach and onwards, hence emphasizing the idea that there is no need for specifically the mourner to lead the prayers of Pesukei Dezimra. However, practically, the widespread custom is for mourners to begin leading the prayer starting from Pesukei Dezimra. Now, while this can be argued as simply being a matter of technicality, in order so no one else take the Amud and that he guarantees that he be the Chazan for the remainder of the prayer, in truth we find sources which state that even leading the recital of Psalms is of merit to the soul of the deceased. Accordingly, it is praiseworthy for the mourner to begin leading the prayer starting from Pesukei Dezimra. Nonetheless, of course this does not override the needs of the community, and hence he cannot cause the minyan to be delayed because he is delayed in starting Pesukei Dezimra.
Sources: See regarding the mourner leading the prayers for Pesukei Dezimra: Leket Hakemach Hachadash Dinei Kaddish 59, Kuntrus Beis Avraham 59; Hagahos Yad Shaul Y.D. 376; Shaareiy Tzedek O.C. 8; Bera Mezakeh Aba p. 73 Nitei Gavriel 54:2 footnote 4; Should lead Mizmorim: Mavor Yabok Sefas Emes end of 21; Pesach Hadvir 284:9; No need: Ashel Avraham Butchach 53:20; See regarding the general law of the mourner leading the prayers: Rama Y.D. 376:4; Admur 53:26; M”A 53:24; Beis Hillel 384; Gilyon Maharsha 384; Nitei Gavriel 93 footnote 1 in name of: Shaareiy Deiah 383; Lechem Hapanim 383; Kneses Yechezkal 44; Beis Lechem Yehuda 376:7; Shalmei Tzibur p. 189b; Kitzur SHU”A 210:5; Teshuvah Meahava 1:50 and 3:384; Makor Chaim 282; Aruch Hashulchan 376:13; Dudaei Hasadeh 47; See Nitei Gavriel 53:1-8 See regarding the custom for the Chazan to only begin the prayers from Yishtabach or to switch Chazanim by Yishtabach: Admur 53:2; Ketzos Hashulchan 14:1 footnote 5; Piskeiy Teshuvos 53 footnote 9