Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Why I Support Talking In Shul

(Within Limits, Of Course)

Beit Tefillah vs. Beit HaKnesset

Perhaps a good place to start is with an idea from a close friend of mine, who suggested that talking in shul is a good thing (TM), even where in violation of halacha. I don't agree with him entirely, of course, but it is an interesting point to consider.

Nowadays, a shul serves a dual function. It acts as a bet tefillah, a house of prayer, and as a bet haknesset, a house of gathering. It is a place to make a connection with one's Creator and a place to make a connection with one's co-religionists. Jewish society has changed; people used to interact on a daily basis with fellow Jews, but now, shul has become a place to make social connections and to feel part of the community. This is not a bad thing, but a good thing. It keeps people part of the Jewish community.

Of course, there are tradeoffs, and one (most) would not want to violate halacha in the process, but perhaps the socializing within shul is not entirely bad in and of itself. On the other hand, if it does in fact mean a bizayon to the bet haknesset, or a reduction in decorum, or speech when forbidden or halachically problematic in the course of davening, then it is a problem. But in analyzing this, we should not ignore that there is something beneficial to socializing with co-religionists, if it creates a kesher to the Jewish community that otherwise would not exist.

Of course, we should not think of a shul as a social hall, rather than a place of prayer. As we see in Shabbat 32a:

תניא ר' ישמעאל בן אלעזר אומר בעון שני דברים עמי הארצות מתים על שקורין לארון הקודש ארנא ועל שקורין לבית הכנסת בית עם

(though one may interpret this in different ways.)

On the other hand, don't tell me that shul was not historically a place to congregate and make social connections. As we read about the splendor of the Synagogue in Alexandria in Succah 51b,
תניא רבי יהודה אומר מי שלא ראה דיופלוסטון של אלכסנדריא של מצרים לא ראה בכבודן של ישראל אמרו כמין בסילקי גדולה היתה סטיו לפנים מסטיו פעמים שהיו בה <ששים> כפלים כיוצאי מצרים [פעמים שהיו שם ששים רבוא כיוצאי מצרים ואמרי לה כפלים כיוצאי מצרים] והיו בה ע"א קתדראות של זהב כנגד ע"א של סנהדרי גדולה כל אחת ואחת אינה פחותה מעשרים ואחד רבוא ככרי זהב ובימה של עץ באמצעיתה וחזן הכנסת עומד עליה והסודרין בידו וכיון שהגיע לענות אמן הלה מניף בסודר וכל העם עונין אמן ולא היו יושבין מעורבין אלא זהבין בפני עצמן וכספין בפני עצמן ונפחין בפני עצמן וטרסיים בפני עצמן וגרדיים בפני עצמן וכשעני נכנס שם היה מכיר בעלי אומנתו ונפנה לשם ומשם פרנסתו ופרנסת אנשי ביתו

That is, people would not sit all mixed together, but rather they recognized people in their own profession, and from there, they helped each other make a living. And this was looked on as a good thing. Of course, this does not necessarily mean that they talked shop in shul. But they surely greeted one another and became friendly.

On the one hand, Tosfot Yom Tov relates that the Chmielnicki massacres were partially punishment of people talking during davening when they shouldn't. {Update: Note that the above may well not be true. See Menachem Butler's comment to this Hirhurim thread.}
On the other hand, the gemara tells us that Christianity started partially because someone did not talk during Shema:

Sota 47a:

יהושע בן פרחיה מאי היא כדהוה קא קטיל ינאי מלכא לרבנן שמעון בן שטח אטמינהו אחתיה ר' יהושע בן פרחיה אזל ערק לאלכסנדריא של מצרים כי הוה שלמא שלח ליה שמעון בן שטח מני ירושלים עיר הקודש לך אלכסנדריא של מצרים אחותי בעלי שרוי בתוכך ואני יושבת שוממה אמר ש"מ הוה ליה שלמא כי אתא אקלע לההוא אושפיזא קם קמייהו ביקרא שפיר עבדי ליה יקרא טובא יתיב וקא משתבח כמה נאה אכסניא זו א"ל <אחד> רבי עיניה טרוטות א"ל רשע בכך אתה עוסק אפיק ארבע מאה שפורי ושמתיה כל יומא אתא לקמיה ולא קבליה יומא חד הוה קרי קרית שמע אתא לקמיה הוה בדעתיה לקבוליה אחוי ליה בידיה סבר מדחא דחי ליה אזל זקף לבינתא פלחא אמר ליה חזור בך א"ל כך מקובלני ממך כל החוטא ומחטיא את הרבים אין מספיקין בידו לעשות תשובה דאמר מר {יש"ו} כישף והסית והדיח והחטיא את ישראל
Our Rabbis have taught: Always let the left hand thrust away and the right hand draw near. Not like Elisha who thrust Gehazi away with both his hands and not like R. Joshua b. Perahiah who thrust one of his disciples away with both his hands.

...

What was the incident with R. Joshua b. Perahiah? — When King Jannaeus put the Rabbis to death, Simeon b. Shetah was hid by his sister, whilst R. Joshua b. Perahiah fled to Alexandria in Egypt. When there was peace, Simeon b. Shetah sent [this message to him]: 'From me, Jerusalem, the Holy city, to thee Alexandria in Egypt. O my sister, my husband dwelleth in thy midst and I abide desolate'. [R. Joshua] arose and came back and found himself in a certain inn where they paid him great respect. He said: 'How beautiful is this 'aksania'! {achsania means both "inn" and "the female innkeeper." One of his disciples {other manuscripts: Jesus} said to him, 'My master, her eyes are narrow!' He replied to him, 'Wicked person! Is it with such thoughts that thou occupiest thyself!' He sent forth four hundred horns and excommunicated him. [The disciple] came before him on many occasions, saying 'Receive me'; but he refused to notice him. One day while [R. Joshua] was reciting the Shema', he came before him. His intention was to receive him and he made a sign to him with his hand, but the disciple thought he was repelling him. So he went and set up a brick and worshipped it. [R. Joshua] said to him, 'Repent'; but he answered him, 'Thus have I received from thee that whoever sinned and caused others to sin is deprived of the power of doing penitence'. A Master has said: The disciple practised magic and led Israel astray.
On the one hand, ideally one should not interrupt during and the paragraphs of Shema. On the other hand, we are supposed to interrupt to greet or respond to greetings during this very time, in specific circumstances. (Whether this applies nowadays is up for discussion.)

Different Approaches to Tefillah
To cite some famous words of a song by Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring and Al Burton:

Now, the world don't move to the beat of just one drum,
What might be right for you, may not be right for some.
A man is born, he's a man of means.
Then along come two, they got nothing but their jeans.

But they got, Diff'rent Strokes.
It takes, Diff'rent Strokes.
It takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.


This is an approach I feel would be good to adopt. Unfortunately, for many, the approach is: anyone to the left of me religiously is a sheigitz and anyone to the right of me is a crazy frummy.

Rav Schachter posed the following in a shiur a while back. (My crude summary, so if you dislike the message, blame only the messenger.) Why did each and every shevet have its own Sanhedrin? He suggested that it is because variety is the spice of life, and even as they might have slightly different halacha, all are valid, and Hashem wants this situation. And in present day, we have a similar situation for Ashkenazim, Sefardim, Chassidim, etc..

We might apply this approach to shuls and their form of tefillah. A few years back, when staying for Shabbat in Washington Heights, I attended the Breuer's shul on Friday night. They had a choir, led by a choirmaster, for Lecha Dodi, and it seemed that only those in the choir were to sing. I'm sure for those in this community, they felt that this added to shul decorum, and was a beautiful way of greeting the queen, Shabbat. Yet I felt a bit miffed at the exclusion of the rest of the tzibbur. And I felt also as if it were a church service.

However, they would probably similarly dislike, or feel uncomfortable the less-orderly singing in a chassidishe shteible, and would look askance at the lack of decorum in a Carlebach minyan in which people sang and danced well past any actual words of the kabbalat Shabbat.

Luckily, there are both types of shul available, and people can go to the shul that is right for them.

I have been blessed to have grown up in Kew Gardens Hills, where there is a shul on every block. There are Young Israels, Agudahs, shteibels, yeshivas, Sefardic shuls, etc.. If one shul is not a good match for you, you can always cross the street and try the next shul. These shuls have different ambiances and davening experiences. They have differing architecture in terms of the ezrat nashim, different structure, in terms of saying tefillot lishlom hamedina, adon olam, anim zemirot, etc. at the end of davening, whether the Rabbi speaks and for how long, different levels of decorum, different policies on dealing with talking during davening, different hashkafot, different zemanei tefillah and length of various parts of davening, different expected responses at various parts of davening (e.g. do we say, or sing in unison, as the sefer Torah is brought out/back to the aron), etc..

And this is a good thing, to my mind.

Yet some people believe that their shul has the right approach and if a shul does it differently, they are doing wrong. In certain cases -- such as where there is violation of halacha -- this indeed has merit. But sometimes there is room for variance. And approaches to shul decorum may somewhat subjective.

I am reminded of the old joke about a priest who visits a shul (presumably a shteible), and he remarks at what he sees as the lack of decorum there - people shukkling, pacing as they daven, lack of coordination of prayer, etc., (I'm not sure whether talking in shul was part of this joke) and remarked to the rabbi about the difference between this and the decorum in his church, wondering what accounted for the difference. The Rabbi thought for a moment and told the priest, "that's because your religion has a mother."

Of course, different people will have different reactions to this joke. But there are in fact different attitudes to shul decorum that vary sociologically.

Some Sources
This is not going to be a comprehensive coverage of the topic, and please don't act based on anything in this post (i.e. the discussion is not le-maaseh). However, there are some interesting sources which factor into talking during prayer and during various points in kriyat haTorah.

One should distinguish between various reasons not to talk. For example, there is an aspect of kavod to the bet haknesset that may (or may not) preclude talking idle talk (as opposed to divrei Torah). This reason should apply regardless of where one is in tefillah, or even after tefillah. This might not apply if the shul is built with a precondition allowing other uses. (Thus, the same siman in Shulchan Aruch states that one may not eat or drink in a shul, yet many shuls have the kiddush in the sanctuary regardless. See this article which mentions this leniency as well.) This should not apply if, for some reason, one is davening at home.

Then, there are reasons of hefsek - one should not interrupt because it causes problems based on the surrounding blessings. (However, even in such a case, in certain instances greeting and responding to greetings were allowed, at least initially.)

Then, there is the reason of not disturbing others around you. Then, there is the reason of not focusing on what the shliach tzibbur is saying, such that one will not be able to respond appropriately.

Let us consider some of the sources. First, in terms of talking during aliyot, and between aliyot. In Sotah 39a:

אמר רבא בר רב הונא כיון שנפתח ספר תורה אסור לספר אפילו בדבר הלכה שנאמר (נחמיה ח) ובפתחו עמדו כל העם ואין עמידה אלא שתיקה שנא' (איוב לב) והוחלתי כי לא ידברו כי עמדו לא ענו עוד ר' זירא אמר רב חסדא מהכא (נחמיה ח) ואזני כל העם אל ספר התורה
Raba son of R. Huna said: When the Torah-scroll is unrolled it is forbidden to converse even on matters concerning the law; as it is said: And when he opened it all the people stood up, and standing up signifies nothing else than silence, as it is said: And I wait because they speak not, because they stand still and answer no more. R. Zera said in the name of R. Hisda: [It may be derived] from this passage, And the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.
There is a dispute as to the meaning of כיון שנפתח ספר תורה. Does this mean "opened up" or does it mean "begun?" If it means "opened up," then only during the aliyot when the Torah is open must the people be quiet. On the other hand, if it means "begun," then the implication is from the beginning of kriyat haTorah until the end, including the span between aliyot.

This accounts for the major dispute between authorities about whether one may talk between aliyot. There are other opinions within this, however.

For example, the opinion that the gemara actually does forbid talking between aliyas, but this was only in the time of the gemara. That is, in the time of the gemara, the first person called up made the opening bracha but no concluding bracha, and the last person made the concluding bracha but not the opening bracha. And people in between made no brachot. The other people in shul should not talk throughout, even between aliyot, lest they be called up and have a hefsek, such that they are not covered by the opening bracha. But nowadays, where each person called up makes both brachot, this is not an issue.

One might also wonder what is meant by אפילו בדבר הלכה. Is this the same as devar Torah, or does it refer to a specific, shortly-answered halachic question such that there is no fear of extending into the actual leining.

(Also, the fact that the gemara must say that in this instance, talking is forbidden implies that in other instances (e.g. before the sefer Torah is "opened" or "begun" talking (to whatever level) is allowed.)

Also, according to those who hold this means only during actual leining (and not between aliyot) I wonder what the implication of אפילו בדבר הלכה is. One could read this gemara as: Of course, during the entire service, one cannot say anything except devar halacha (or greeting). But here, even devar halacha is forbidden. Or else one could read this as: During actual leining, there are additional restrictions on speech. And don't think that just because this is public reading of Torah, other Torah-related subject matter is allowed (similar to the way Rav Sheshet turned his head and learned gemara to himself during leining, according to some ways of reading the gemara in Brachot daf 8). Rather, even Torah-related discussion is restricted. Meanwhile, between the aliyot and otherwise, perhaps even non-Torah related discussion is allowed (e.g. inviting someone over for Shabbat lunch.) This would be strange, given that one should not, according to the Shulchan Aruch, talk sicha beteila in a shul, but I am not sure where the source in the gemara is for this (I haven't tracked it down yet). I know where the other things he mentions for a shul find their source in the gemara (rperhaps someone can help me out) - not having kalut rosh, not eating, not drinking, etc. - Megillah 24a-b:

ת"ר בתי כנסיות אין נוהגין בהן קלות ראש אין אוכלין בהן ואין שותין בהן
ואין ניאותין בהם ואין מטיילין בהם ואין נכנסין בהן בחמה מפני החמה ובגשמים מפני הגשמים ואין מספידין בהן הספד של יחיד אבל קורין בהן ושונין בהן ומספידין בהן הספד של רבים

and it continues with making shuls with a precondition:

א"ר אסי בתי כנסיות שבבבל על תנאי הן עשויין ואעפ"כ אין נוהגין בהן קלות ראש ומאי ניהו חשבונות אמר רב אסי בהכ"נ שמחשבין בו חשבונות

These Rishonim who permit sicha beteila on the basis of precondition (as per that article linked above) apparently do not consider sicha beteila to be equal to kalus rosh, and so it would seem from the gemara. I would guess that sicha beteila is added in on the basis of the general theme which is to treat the bet haknesses as sacrosanct.

Another interesting source I don't know what to do with is Shabbat 31:
ת"ר אין עומדין להתפלל לא מתוך עצבות ולא מתוך עצלות ולא מתוך שחוק ולא מתוך שיחה ולא מתוך קלות ראש ולא מתוך
דברים בטלים אלא מתוך שמחה של מצוה

which is based on the fact that the Shechina is not shoreh except with simcha shel mitzvah, as we say earlier on 30b (on Pesachim 117a):
ללמדך שאין שכינה שורה לא מתוך עצבות ולא מתוך עצלות ולא מתוך שחוק ולא מתוך קלות ראש ולא מתוך שיחה ולא מתוך דברים בטלים אלא מתוך דבר שמחה של מצוה
This would imply some kind of sicha or devarim beteilim would be possible. Of course, it also says kalus rosh. Perhaps this is tefillah not in shul such that this is necessary?

At any rate, this is a good argument for decorum and for focusing on tefillah. Though one might envision one talking for some reason if and where permitted, and then before resuming tefillah, assuming simcha shel mitzvah.

The Shulchan Aruch (146) rules that speaking even between aliyot is forbidden, though some permit in a group of instances based on explanations of Rav Sheshet's actions in Berachot daf 8 compared with the gemara in Sota 39a (see the gemara and Tosafot there). But see Mishnah Brura there, who notes: bein gavra legavra - lest one be drawn into it and come to talk during the aliya itself. (perhaps this is an an additional takana over the gemara, or perhaps an explanation of the gemara. I would guess the latter.) However, the Bach appears to allow talking in divrei Torah. The Be`er Heitiv cited the Bach that it is permitted to talk betwen aliyot and explains that this is only now that they extend in mi sheberachs. The Mishna Berura also concludes that to teach something important for that time, one should not be machmir, for it is not so likely that one will come to extend to the actual leining.

In the aforementioned article, there are even more lenient readings of the Bach, and other lenient opinions.

28 Machatzis ha-Shekel, Aruch ha-Shulchan, and Shulchan ha-Tahor maintain that the Bach permits even idle talk between aliyos. See also Pri Chadash who permits conversing bein gavra l'gavra. Obviously, they refer to the type of talk which is permitted in shul and on Shabbos.

Speaking During Psukei deZimra
For this, a good source is the Rif (on brachot 23 in pages of Rif). Right click the picture and open the link in a new window if you want to see it inside:


And we learn in perek Kol Kitvei Kodesh {Shabbat daf 118b}: Rabbi Yossi said: may my portion be with those who finsh {saying all of} Hallel every day.
Is this so?
But Mar said that one who says Hallel every day is {as if} blaspheming and reproaching {the Divine Name}!
{Rather, } what are we referring to {by Hallel}: Verses of Song {=Psukei DeZimra, called Hallel because of the word Halleluya which appears often.}
{end quote from the gemara}

And what are they {Psukei DeZimra}?
{From Tehillim 145-150, that is}
From Tehilla LeDavid {=Ashrei} unti Kol HaNeshama Tehallel Kah.

And the Sages instituted to say a blessing beforehand and a blessing afterwards. And what are they? Baruch SheAmar and Yishtabach. Therefore one must not speak from the time he begins Baruch SheAmar until he finishes Shemoneh Esrei.

{Note: From Rabbenu Yona's words, citing Rav Amram Gaon, it is clear that all this - the specifics of Psukei DeZimra, and the blessings, are Geonic. See inside.}
{Note: Rashi has a different explanation of psukei deZimra.}
Rabbenu Yona, on the side, cited Rav Amram Gaon about what to do if one came late, and notes that the main Psukei deZimra is Ashrei (surrounded by Baruch SheAmar and Yishtabach).

It is interesting that Rif states between Baruch sheAmar and Shemoneh Esrei. What about after Yishtabach? One might say that this time is brief, and so he was not introducing any innovation, but rather noting that the brachot surrounding the spans of psukei deZimra and Shema, together with the fact that one may not interrupt Shemoneh Esrei, plus a statement by Chazal that teikef lig`ula tefillah means that in general during that span there would be no interruptions. But if pressed, he might acknowledge the time between Yishtabach and the first blessing of Shema.

Alternatively, look on the side at Shiltei Giborim, who cites a Yerushalmi that one may not interrupt between Yishtabach and Yotzer Or (see note 4), that such is a sin for which one is returned from fighting a war. And so does Hagahot Maimoni cite this Yerushalmi. And the Shulchan Aruch brings it down lehalacha, though giving some exceptions.

(I find this surprising since I thought the brachot of psukei deZimra were also post-Talmudic enactments, and further because I learned through all of Yerushalmi and do not recall seeing this gemara. If someone has seen it, please help me out here.)

The implication is that if not for the blessings before and after, one would have been able to talk somewhat. And this would then be applicable to other parts of tefillah not mentioned by the Rif. (Again, for specifics, see this article by Rabbi Doniel Neustadt.)

Even in pesukei deZimra, the Rif did not intend a total prohibition on speech. As Shiltei Giborim notes the obvious (also in note 4), citing Tur: "However, it is not better that Shema and its blessings. Therefore, between the mizmorim one may ask {=introduce greeting} because of honor {such as to an elderly, learned, or rich person} and respond to a greeting by anyone. And within mizmorim, one may ask {=introduce greeting} because of fear {such as of his father or teacher} and answer because of honor.

And the same applies to Shema, of course. See Shulchan Aruch.

Of course, based on Mishna Berura, even this would be ruled out, as we shall see.

Not Talking At All
It is possible to construct a case where one can argue that one should adopt a taanit dibbur until chatzot on Shabbat morning. After all, one is forbidden from going to a friend's door to greet him before greeting Hashem via davening. And Mishnah Brura considers crossing the shul to greet an example of this. Furthermore, he states that it is not present custom to greet during davening at all, and thus one should not respond or ask greeting. Furthermore, sicha beteila is forbidden in a shul. Further, various times one is forbidden to interrupt because of the enclosing blessings. And he maintains one should not talk in general during kriyat haTorah. One can quite possibly go until 12:30 without saying a word to his fellow.

Yet let us see the Mishna Brura inside (in English):

In terms of the practice of not going out of one's path to greet, but only if one chances upon him:

(1) Between the paragraphs - This is only where they meet each other in the natural course of events, but it is forbidden to get up early to visit one's friend, or to cross the Shul from his own fixed place to his friend's in order to greet him. This is true even for one's father, Rebbe [Torah teacher], and even before he commences "Boruch She'Omar" [the Blessing before the Verses of Praise] or any time before saying the main Amidah prayer [see Berochos 14a, where they say that one may not greet anyone before praying, as one first has to "greet" HaShem, as it were, before anyone else --SP].

However, this would not exclude people you meet on the street on the way to shul, or (yet - see next point) people in your path to your seat or at your table, or people who come up to you.

(2)
One may greet - even in one's own language. One may only greet and return a greeting to strangers [literally "new faces"], where if one did not return the greeting it might cause hatred.

There might be several ways of interpreting this, but it seems to be
that one should only greet panim chadashot, since otherwise it would cause hatred. I am not sure how to resolve this with the statement in Shulchan Aruch that talks of greeting ones father or teacher. Perhaps he means that specifically for strangers who do not expect greeting, one should only greet where otherwise it might cause hatred? (I don't see how that would work with the words, though - vedavka befanim chadashot shoel umeshiv, sheim lo yashiv yavo lidei sin`a.) Maybe by vedavka befanim chadashot he means when they first enter and are panim chadashot, and is not referring to strangers at all? That is the way I would read it. Suggestions welcome.

He continues:

The Sefer HaChinuch also writes that one may not interrupt [the Shema] for a person whom we see is not disturbed by his friend's behavior [and will not be bothered if not greeted]. Therefore, because it is our custom nowadays not to greet others in Shul during Davening, Heaven forbid that we should greet or return a greeting (even with words of Torah) whether between the paragraphs [of the Shema] or even in the Verses of Praise.

Let us consider whether this is the case. It is in fact custom (in my shul at least) to greet during davening. People, even those who do not talk between aliyot, come in and say good Shabbos (with a handshake) to everyone at the table. It is considered being a mentch. This is not to say that in the Chafetz Chaim's shuls they weren't mentchen. But what is considered appropriate in one time is not necessarily so in another place. As the Mishna Brura himself writes, the custom nowadays was different than it was in the past.

And in our present shuls, we reverted to the custom of old and we do in fact greet. Should we then apply the Mishna Berura's rule even in a situation in which it does not apply?

(One can argue that people will not take offense because he knows that the person cannot reply during this point in davening. It is a good argument. But how is this any different than in the time of the gemara, when they most assuredly did respond and greet?)

Thus
Thus, if there is a shul in which people do actually shmooze in Torah (or other) between aliyot, I do not see this as the end of the world. It happens in one of the shuls I frequently daven in. And I do not find that this detracts from the decorum of the shul. And I do not find it distracting in the least. Further, this is an established custom in the shul that has firm basis in halacha.

Similarly, if someone comes in in between birchot haShachar and baruch sheAmar, and the chazzan is taking his time going through korbanot, and his friend greets him and they talk for a minute of two in learning (or other) in a way that does not disturb others (i.e. sitting at a table, takling quietly, such that it does not disturn others who are also saying tefillot quietly), I do not see this as the end of the world.

Everything depends on degree and context. I am not condoning talking loudly about sports throughout the silent amidah and chazarat ha-shatz. Or doing this in a shul in which the accepted custom by everyone else is not to talk during this time. Or where the structure of the shul and the service are such that you will be disturbing others. Nor am I saying that the practice in shuls which do have more stringent custom about talking are halachically illegitimate -- they are; or that their mode of prayer is not beautiful and uplifting -- it can be.

What I am saying is that this current, halachically legitimate practice need not be changed to to the most stringent in order to satisfy all shittot. And that adopting a more stringent position is not necessarily ideal, if it makes shul into an uncomfortable experience for the participants. People who will appreciate this form of davening will gravitate towards these shuls and away from others; and vice versa.

Some people will object to this because of ethnocentric belief that their way is the only correct way. And that any custom which is more relaxed than the one they grew up with is a violation of the sanctity and decorum of the synagogue. Some people would shush the Bach and kick Rav Sheshet out of shul. Or at the least, tell them that they need to work on their middot in order to gain a proper appreciation of tefillah.

11 comments:

Jewish Blogmeister said...

some shuls allow talking between aliyos which is fine. The problem arises when people continue to talk even after they start layining.

Isaac said...

Yiyasher Kochacha!

As threatened, I put a link to this post in my post.

joshwaxman said...

Isaac:
thanks!

Jewish Blogmeister:
I agree, and that is an issue which should be addressed just as it is in shuls where they disallow all talking and still people talk during aliyot.

and there are different ways of addressing it. the one I imagine would work best is to replace a few weeks of the Rabbi's speech with learning these topics inside, with source sheet handouts, such that people see exactly why one is OK and the other is not. (and since they see there is room to breathe, they are less likely to dismiss it all as unreachable.) when people get hands on experience with a topic, they are more likely to be willing to apply it.

in my shul the baal koreh is really quick - he lains it just as fast as one can process what one hears - which is also less likely to encourage people to tune out and then talk. (also, people know the next bein gavra legavra is coming relatively soon.)

joshwaxman said...

Jewish Blogmeister:

I should add that even if they do extend their talking divrei Torah into actual leining, there is not universal agreement among authorities that there is any violation.

Based on different harmonizations of the gemara in Sota 39a that states that it is forbidden to speak even beDvar halacha and the gemara in Berachot 8 that states that Rav Sheshet would turn away (during leining) and learn, saying "they do theirs and we do ours," different things may be permitted.
(see Tosafot in Sota.)

One opinion brought down as a yesh omrim in Shulchan Aruch is that it is permitted so long as there are 10 people paying attention to the leining.

AARON said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AARON said...

"It is interesting that Rif states between Baruch sheAmar and Shemoneh Esrei. What about after Yishtabach?"
Perhaps the R"IF did not have yishtabach.

Sam- said...

Very interesting article. However, wouldn't it be a nice place - for G-d, if one were to focus on the davening instead of focusing on the person next to him?

joshwaxman said...

indeed.
and there is time for that as well. i don't think that, for example, talking between aliyot, precludes someone from focusing on davening.
and I don't really have anything against shuls that make that choice. just that one should know what is and what is a matter of opinion halachically, and that there are different (acceptable) strokes for different folks.

David said...

Amazing! The first half of this article is EXACTLY what I have stated numerous times, right down to the notion that a shul is called a beis kenesses, not a beis tefilah. And I have also brought the same proof from the Shul in Alexandria. I thank Rabbi Avraham Adler, from thte marvelous dafnotes blog for calling my attention here. Thanks!

David said...

Also, regarding your question about the citation to the Yerushalmi you couldnt find - Mahratz Chajes (in the colected writings) and others have pointed out that many Rishonim refer to smaller midrashim, or any earlier geonic work, esp. those from Eretz Yisarael, as " Yerushalmi".

joshwaxman said...

thanks for the tip!
(I still owe dafnotes a linkto.)

in fact, I discuss this issue in a lot greater detail in a subsequent post: Talking Between Yishtabach and Yotzer Or: The Development of an Erroneous Prohibition,
and I mention there that one source actually refers to it as midrash, though I conclude it is likely Yerushalmi. I also talk about how this imaginary Yerushalmi comes about.

Kol Tuv!

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