Volume 40 Number 86
                 Produced: Tue Oct 14  6:27:04 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Babies in Shul
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Children in Shul (5)
         [Michael Pitkowsky, Joshua Adam Meisner, Aharon Fischman,
Kenneth G Miller, Leah Aharoni]
Children in Shul on Yomim Noraim
         [Chana Luntz]
Noisy Kids, Noisier Parents
         [Martin D Stern]


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Sun, 12 Oct 2003 18:14:00 -0700
Subject: Babies in Shul

In the continuing discussion of issues that may affect children/congregations:

1. Would those who are hard-hearted enough to say that a mommy shouldn't
kiss her baby in shul--kindly provide a halakhic source for that statement?

2. Anyone who thinks that babies/children are too smelly/unhygienic to
be in shul clearly has never inhaled at the end of a fast day or 'three-day'
chag.  Give me a little baby poop any time over that awful stench of
body odor and halitosis.

Besides, yes, we all know that it is forbidden to daven around the
smell of feces.  Including parents, who IME always change their kids
immediately.  (I wonder, actually, if babies are really included in
that prohibition, at least fully breast-fed ones.  Their feces is not
particularly offensive, or even recognizable as human waste at first
smell.)  No one would disagree that toddlers need quick attention to
diaper matters.

Leah S. R. Gordon


From: <pitab@...> (Michael Pitkowsky)
Date: Fri, 10 Oct 2003 11:50:26 -0400
Subject: Children in Shul

Very few of the postings regarding the topic of children in shul
suggested something which to me may illustrate what some institutions in
the Jewish community may think of childhood education.  My wife and I
are blessed to belong to a synagogue which had approximately five
educational activities for children of different ages during the Yamim
Noraim (there are similar but fewer activities on a regular Shabbat).
The activities were for kids of all ages with age-appropriate

Almost all of the planning and execution was done by parents who put in
a lot of time with help from professional staff in order to provide
children not with babysitting, but with an informative and very
educational Yamim Noraim experience.  As a parent of young children I
not only have to allow other people to have a meaningful davening
experience but I also have to provide an appropriate atmosphere for my
child.  Regarding adults, many of them talk too much in shul and they
shouldn't be let off the hook.  They are definitely not setting a good
example for others. The Rambam even called for abolishing the reader's
repitition of the amidah b/c of the chit chat which was going on in the
synagogue (see his responsa par. 291, ed. Blau).

Hag Sameah and Moadim LeSimha.

Michael Pitkowsky

From: Joshua Adam Meisner <jam390@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Oct 2003 09:54:27 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Children in Shul

	There have been many very good arguments on both sides that really
opened my eyes to issues that it is worthwhile to keep in mind (speaking
as one who has no kids, but who not so long ago was himself one of the
kids nudging his way through the rows of daveners every few minutes).
	A few weeks back, in P' Vayeilech, we read about the mitzvah of
Hak'heil.  Every 7 years, all of the Jews would come to the Beit HaMikdash
after Sukkot, to hear the Davidic king read portions from the book of
Devarim.  The Torah states that this mitzvah is obligatory upon everyone -
men, women, young children (Heb., taf), and even "the stranger in your
gates".  Although it is not beyond the realm of possibility to imagine a
two-year-old loudly whining to his father that he's thirsty or hungry or
itchy,  while King David was intoning the verses of Shema, the Torah
(seemingly inexplicably) still mandates that the little children still be
brought.  The gemara explains that even though a little child certainly
doesn't understand what's going on, there is still a mitzvah for them to
come, "in order to give reward to those who bring them".
	One can only imagine how mind-blowing it must have been to
participate in a mitzvah which occurred only once every seven years, which
involved the leader of the Jewish people, even leaving aside cycles during
which one had to miss the reading because of illness or tum'a.  A person
would finally arrive in the Courtyard of the Beit HaMikdash after so many
years, and try to hear what was being read, only to have two
four-year-olds giggling in the row behind?!  Even so, the Torah felt it
important for children to be exposed to the experience of Hak'heil from a
very early age.
	I don't think that schmoozing is desirable in a shul under any
circumstances.  I don't think that young children should turn the shul
into a playground, and that their parents should do nothing about it.
Nevertheless, though, the practices of Judaism must also be open to the
very young children, even if they themselves would seemingly gain nothing
from it and they would only serve as a distraction to the adults.

Chag Samei'ach,

From: Aharon Fischman <afischman@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Oct 2003 12:00:10 -0400
Subject: Re: Children in Shul

My first point is - children in diapers should never be in shul.  What
may be in the diaper should not be within 4 amot of anyone who is

My second point - having children become familiar with shul is
definitely a worthy goal, but having them come to shul where they will
only crawl around or play with others only familiarises them with
crawling around or playing in shul.  There should be a possibility of
understanding the importance of shul in order to become familiar.

My third point - where does keeping people who may disturb others become
too draconian?  I think you need to balance the 'chiyuv' of those in
shul with those who may disturb others.  Any adult in shul has more of a
chiyuv than a child.  If its a question between the child who may or may
not benefit from shul or an adult with a chiyuv, the chiyuv must come
first.  For the Tourettes example, their chiyuv is the same as any other
adult and should be given more lattitude. By the way, even if a child is
quiet, it can still be very distracting.  Have you ever sat behind a
baby or young child in shul?  Have you ever had that sweet face smiling
at you and tried to ignore it because you are trying to have kavana?  It
is not easy!  You need to smile back, which either (1) makes the child's
face light up and become even MORE distracting or (b) makes the child
feel shy and dig its face into Mom or Dad's shoulder disturbing the
parent's tefilla!

My wife and I are blessed with 3 daughters.  Our oldest, a 5 year old,
is just starting to come to shul with me now while my wife tends to the
two who are still in diapers.  Our 5 year old knows that she has two
choices.  She can either sit in shul with me and daven (or sit/ stand
quietly if the tzibbur is saying tefillot which she is not yet familiar
with) or she may go to groups where she will daven, learn parsha and,
yes, play.  But the space for play is in the basement, not in the
sanctuary.  She knows exactly what is expected of her when she is in the
sanctuary.  She will grow up knowing how to function in the shul.  She
did not lose out by not being there as a younger child.  If anything,
she learned that shul is a place to respect.

Children need to know that there are limits of proper behavior no matter
where they are; at home, in the park, at a restaurant, in shul, in a
friend's house, etc.  Each place has it's own limits.  Children who are
under a certain age/ understanding level can not be expected to know,
understand, or keep to these limits.  How can you tell a 9 months old
not to coo?  How can you tell a 6 month old not to bang her toy on the

Chag Sameach,
Aharon (with help from Aliza) Fischman

From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Sun, 12 Oct 2003 20:19:42 -0400
Subject: re: Children in Shul

Rachel Swirsky wrote <<< Shall we say that a Baal Teshuva not be allowed
into shul until he or she is able to daven without needed to ask any
question? ... I grew up sitting with my mother, my grandmother and my
great-grandmother in shul every week.  I used to take off to run the
halls with my friends when we got bored. ... I am now perfectly at home
in the shul.  I know my way around.  I know the routine. ... Children
need to experience in order to learn. For those who say bring them only
once they know how to behave, how are they supposed to learn?  How are we
to expect children to learn the decorum of a shul if we do not allow them
to enter? >>>

I suspect that Ms. Swirsky has misunderstood certain people's
position. I don't know of anyone who feels that children should be
barred from the shul until they have already learned how to behave. I
agree that teaching them how to behave in shul is something which can't
possibly be taught anywhere other than in the shul itself.

The way to teach this behavior is by bringing the kids to shul, but then
making sure that they leave when they reach their limits, as she herself
did when she and her friends got bored. The problem is that too many
people allow -- or even encourage -- their kids to stay in the shul even
after the kid has gotten restless and disruptive.

Akiva Miller

From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2003 00:30:29 +0200
Subject: Children in Shul

In mail-jewish Vol. 40 #84 Digest Gershon wrote:

	The haftara on the first day of Rosh Hashana tells of Channah coming
	with her husband every Yom Tov to Shiloh, and of her prayers for a
	child.  She was answered with the birth of Shmuel.  She then did NOT
	come until he was old enough for her vow to be fulfilled, i.e. to bring
	him to mishkan and dedicate his life there.

	In the interim, despite her previous practice of "coming to shul" when
	it was anything but a common practice, she understood that she needed to
	be home with her baby.

IMHO this is not the best of proofs. Hannah took Shmuel to Shilo after
he had been weaned (presumably at the age of 2 or so) and left him there
to be looked after by Eli. Apparently, a 2-year old Shmuel was old
enough to "come to shul" (Shmuel 1, 1:24 and 2:11).

On a more serious note, I think that the argument should not be about
kids' presence in shul, but rather about the parents' responsibility to
teach them to keep quiet. (Most)parents insist on proper manners in
company and polite speech. Similarly, there should be no compromise when
it comes to shul behavior. From personal experience, 3 and 4 year olds
are old enough to be taught not to chatter in shul!

Leah Aharoni


From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Oct 2003 15:43:47 +0100
Subject: Children in Shul on Yomim Noraim

Gershon Dubin writes:

>The haftara on the first day of Rosh Hashana tells of 
>Channah coming with her husband every Yom Tov to Shiloh, and 
>of her prayers for a child.  She was answered with the birth 
>of Shmuel.  She then did NOT come until he was old enough 
>for her vow to be fulfilled, i.e. to bring him to mishkan 
>and dedicate his life there.
>In the interim, despite her previous practice of "coming to 
>shul" when it was anything but a common practice, she 
>understood that she needed to be home with her baby.

This is slightly disingenious.  Once could just as much learn from this
portion that once a child is weaned (aged two in those times - and even
the Nach recognised that hana'ar, na'ar) it is appropriate to dump him
on the shul and expect them to look after him full time.

I suspect many mothers who are miserable staying home with their babies
on the Yomim Noraim would have a different view if they knew that after
age two they would not see those babies again except for possibly on Yom
Tov. (Question, do you think that Chana stayed away after her subsequent
children were born, given that that would mean not seeing Shmuel?)

Likewise I have had many people suggest that we should have some sort of
special heter in the other direction, because we have a severely
disabled child who is never expected to reach the developmental level
where he can walk to shul, not to mention daven in shul, be out of
nappies etc.  So that, if Mum is not coming to shul because of a child
who is not ready, then Mum is not coming to shul for the rest of either
her or the child's life.

But it is only a question of degree.  When children are small, the years
until they are old enough not to need you can feel like a lifetime - and
the concept of a need for respite care can be equally applicable.
Nobody gives well when they give all the time, without taking time to
recharge the batteries, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Without it, all you get is substandard care, whether it be of the
elderly, the disabled, or of normal healthy children.  And telling
people that it is G-d's will, as a previous poster implied, when they
are feeling they cannot cope, is not particularly sensitive either (just
as telling people it is G-d's will when they cannot cope because they do
not have children is not high up there on the level of derech eretz and
kindness either, despite the role model of Penina).

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Samach


From: <MDSternM7@...> (Martin D Stern)
Date: Fri, 10 Oct 2003 11:51:22 EDT
Subject: Re: Noisy Kids, Noisier Parents

Those contributors who advocate allowing children who make a noise to
come to shul are in effect advocating training the next generation of
adults to treat it with disrespect. A shul is for davenning and not a
social gathering; those who want the latter should only come for the
kiddush. Whether one is allowed to talk about other matters in shul,
even before the begining of davenning or after its end, is highly
questionable. During davenning, any unnecessary talking is halachically
forbidden; the Shulchan Arukh speaks of someone who talks during
chazarat hashats, the repetition of the shemonei esrei by the chazan, as
'gadol avono mineso, his sin is greater than he can bear' and the Chatam
Sofer was of the opinion that the reason many shuls were destroyed over
the centuries was because of this very laxity.

    Martin D Stern


End of Volume 40 Issue 86