Volume 54 Number 11
                    Produced: Thu Feb 15  6:01:04 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Length of davening time in Shul
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Purim Torah
         [Carl Singer]
Talking in Shul (4)
         [Ira Bauman, Akiva Miller, Russell J Hendel, Russell J Hendel]


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2007 12:51:20 +0200
Subject: Length of davening time in Shul

Many, many years ago, I davened in a Shul across from the main station
in Jerusalem on a Shabbos morning. The full davening, with no omissions
except for lengthy Misheberachs after the Aliyot, took an hour and ten
minutes - and it was not a particularly short Sidrah and did not feel
overly rushed.

In general, the Minyan I daven at in Ramot, Jerusalem, takes between 90
to 105 minutes, and is no way rushed. No, there is no speech, and no, we
do not have world-famous Chazanim, and no, we do not have interminable
Misheberachs. Incidentally, it is a very quiet Minyan - maybe because
people are constantly involved.

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2007 07:15:20 -0500
Subject: Purim Torah

From: David Riceman <driceman@...>
>   It seems to me that, after all of these negative posts, someone ought
> to say something positive about talking in shul.  Many of the Jews who
> came to America, including some of my grandparents, did so to avoid
> being drafted into the Czar's army.  Draft evasion, is, as it were, a
> widespread American Jewish custom.
>   The halacha is that someone who talks during davening is exempt from
> the draft.  Obviously people who talk in shul take this custom of draft
> evasion very seriously, and perform it whenever they can.  Surely they
> are to be praised for their zeal.

I thank David for this slice of Purim Torah.

As a state officer in the Jewish War veterans I must point out that the
JWV, America's Oldest veteran's organization was formed in response to
Mark Twain's assertion (later recanted) that Jews did not fight in the
Civil War.  (see www.jwv.org)

Carl A. Singer
Colonel, U.S. Army Retired   -- AND YES, A DRAFTEE!!!


From: <Yisyis@...> (Ira Bauman)
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2007 22:09:27 EST
Subject: Re: Talking in Shul

> The second is a gathering place on shabbat, where the Jews who all
> week worked with the goyim, had a place to gather as yidden, with
> other yidden.  They could daven, learn, catch-up with each other in a
> setting that was not "goyish" or with goyim>>

I can understand the feelings of those "yidden".  As a professional
working in a non-Jewish town, with non-Jews all day, I too crave some
time to communicate with my co-religionists.  Although I live in a
vibrant modern orthodox community, during the week people come in late
to daven and run out early.  There is very little opportunity to meet
and one can go a whole week until shabbos without conversing with
another Jew.  It is no wonder that on Shabbos when I finally see my
friends and neighbor for 3 hours, I bristle at the thought of a zero
tolerance for talking.  Most of the Rabbis who advocate this position
have jobs in the Yeshiva system.  They talk to colleagues, parents and
congregants all day and just don't seem to understand what the regular
baal habos like me has to complain about.  Don't get me wrong.  I would
hate to see our time of tefillah degenerate into something it should not
be, but zero tolerance is a bit extreme.

Ira Bauman

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2007 14:07:02 GMT
Subject: Re: Talking in Shul

Gershon Dubin wrote: <<< Shmoozing is always asur in a Beis 
Hakeneses, during, before and after davening. >>>

Joshua Goldmeier asked <<< Depends on what type of shmoozing.  If all 
shmoozing is assur, a) why not just say so?  B) why have halachos 
about responding to someone giving you "shalom"?  How could there be 
halachos of when in tefillah you are allowed to respond if you are 
NEVEr allowed to "shmooze"? >>>

Good point. We should elaborate on what we mean. In any discussion, it
is always good to define our terms.

"If all shmoozing is assur, why not just say so?" -- Um, the seforim
*did* say so. In many places. For example, Mishneh Brurah 151:2 - "Even
ordinary talk, such as for business purposes, which is allowed outside,
is forbidden in shul." Perhaps I misunderstood your question?

"why have halachos about responding to someone giving you "shalom"?" - -
The purpose of this halacha is to distinguish between forbidden
shmoozing and permitted shmoozing. In other words, this is the exception
to the rule. The general rule is that all conversation is forbidden, but
this sort is permitted. Those who would avail themselves of this
permission owe it to themselves to learn the specific details of exactly
what is included and what is not.

For example, see the Mishneh Brurah 51:12, who writes, "See the Magen
Avraham 66:1, that nowadays we do not usually greet people in shul
during davening, so chalilah (G-d forbid) to either greet or respond,
neither between the paragraphs of the Shema, nor during pesukei
dezimra." I leave it to the reader and his LOR to learn the other
details of these halachos, and to determine whether the rules which
applied in the communities of the Magen Avraham and Mishna Brurah apply
in our communities.

Personally, I can't imagine how even the most lenient application of
these halachos would permit a conversation of more than a dozen words or
so. ("Good morning! How are you?" "Fine, thanks. Have a nice day!") But
I'm open to other ideas.

Akiva Miller

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2007 09:20:56 -0500
Subject: Talking in Shul

Hi Several interesting responses have been made to my initial posting
that it is permissable (and even desirable) to talk in shule at times. I
will answer each comment separately.

One discussant pointed out that "One cannot talk from the beginning of
Baruch Sheamar till after completion of the Shmoneh Esray" should be
amended to "One cannot talk from the beginning of Baruch Sheamar till
after the completion of the CHAZAN'S REPETITION OF THE Shmoneh Esray"

This indeed was my intention in using the phrase "Completion of the
Shmoneh esray." I agree with it and consider it an important point since
people frequently talk during the repetition (and I, even though I
permitted/encouraged talking, do not permit talking during the

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d.; http://www.Rashiyomi.com

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2007 09:55:53 -0500
Subject: Talking in Shul

In my initial posting on talking in Shule I said it was permissable and
even advisable to talk between aliyoth of the weekly Torah reading.
Several discussants demurred to this permissability and cited the code
of Jewish Law MB 146:2 which they claimed prohibited it.

Actually MB 146:2 besides prohibiting it lists five exceptions when it
is permissable to talk (The postings as a professional courtesy should
have at least acknowleged this). Furthermore, the commentaries on this
portion greatly clarify the prohibition showing it is not applicable. I
could go on for quite a while but in the interest of brevity let me
hilight three explicit passages.

Passage 1: The Code of Jewish Law 146:2 explicitly states "But there are
those who permit between the aliyoth reciting the torah portion twice
and reading the aramaic translation."

Now if you go to the relevant section of the Jewish Law code you will
find that Jewish law has an obligation on every Jew to read the Torah
portion twice and the aramaic translation once. Jewish law allows
substitution of Rashi's commentary for the aramaic translation (Since no
one understands aramaic today).

So suppose between Aliyoth I am looking over the aliyah and notice some
unusual nuance in the Torah. I may be prompted to ask my knowledgeable
friend about this nuance and see if Rashi commented on it.

(My point: Is that "reading" Rashi with the Torah certainly includes
"understanding" Rashi. Also my point is that "reading Torah twice and
rashi once" is not an apodictic ritual but can be done in stages (I have
a right to break up the entire unit))

I would argue more strongly: The whole reason Ezra and his court enacted
leining was so that people should have learning opportunities.
Consequently my learning Rashi between aliyoth could not possibly be
contradicted by a rabbinic ordinance to learn! (The commentators on the
Code of Jewish Law also understand the "twice Bible Once Translation"
permissability to be a permissability because "He is studying the same
parshah anyway."

Passage 2: The Beer Hetev commentary cites the Bach commentary that the
various possibilities of permission to talk "apply especially today when
we say Mi Shebayrachs (personal blessings) between aliyoth."

Let us carefully analyze this. The Mi Shebayrachs between aliyoth are
NOT in the Talmud or Rishonim. They are not "official prayers" but just
add-ons. A typical Mi Shebayrach may mention a) shule donations b) lists
of sick people c) lists of children and grandchildren to be blessed. Now
everyone knows that when someone gets up and donates money and lists all
his grandchildren in the Mi Shebayrach--that is exactly when the talking

Technically according to Jewish Law such Mi Shebayrachs between aliyoth
should never have been allowed. The Torah reading's purpose is to
reenact the revelation on Mount Sinai. To discuss shule business
(donations) or family matters (Sick people) has no place during the
Torah reading and destroys the atmosphere. In fact in one shule where I
lein they do NOT recite Mi Shebayrachs for sick people during
leining---rather after the maftir the Rabbi gets up and makes a Mi
Shebayrach and asks people with sick friends "to have in mind the names
of these friends." I believe that this shule is doing things properly.

We now understand the Beer Hetev / Bach's statement: If people are
making Mi Shebayrachs. listing donations, and grandchildren, it is
permissable for you to talk about Torah during that time! Makes perfect
sense and as I indicated above it is consistent with the original
enactment of leining which is to learn.

Passage 3: The MB 146:2 Note 6 states the reason for prohibiting talking
between aliyoth is "A preventative enactment lest people start talking
between aliyoth and continue talking during the leining."

But wait a minute. Leining itself is Rabbinic. We have a clear rule that
there are no enactments to enactments. In other words if there is
rabbinic prohibition of talking during leining (So that you should
concentrate and learn) then we can not have a second enactment
prohibiting talking between aliyoth because it might lead to talking
during leining which is only rabbinically prohibited (Note in defense of
this argument: The Jewish Law code explicitly states at 146:2 "And these
permissions do not apply when Leining parah or Amalayk [because they are
Biblicallly required]"

So now I have to reconcile the CLEAR statement of the MB with the
equally CLEAR rule that there are no enactments to enactments.

I believe the resolution to this problem should use the Bach referred to
above. In olden times the 7 aliyoth came up one after the other. There
might be a 5-10 seconds break between aliyoth. In such a case a
conversation started during this 15 second period would OFNECESSITY
continue into the leining and hence is prohibited.(That is the term
"conversation" minimally requires 1/2 minute -1 minute and hence the
term "conversation" intrinsically involves spill over to leining itself
and hence is prohibited)

But today when Mi Shebayrachs take 1-4 minutes it is possible in this
time to have a COMPLETE conversation. A person might ask why Rashi said
something and a succinct answer could be provided. Consequently the MB's
reason for prohibiting talking does not apply IN OUR TIMES when we say
Mi Shebayrachs.

Summary: I have been a bit technical so let me summarize all 3 passages.
The original reason for the leining enactment was so that people should
learn. It follows that in lengthy breaks between aliyoth, such as we
have today when we say mi Shebayrachs, it is permissable and even
advisable to quickly scan over the parshah and try to understand some
Rashis and ask around for Rashis' reason. By doing so you are fulfilling
the original reason of the enactment.

I think the above taken as a unit makes enormous sense.

I promised to only deal with 3 passages. However in closing I want to
point out that there are further passages. For example the code of
Jewish law says that some permit people "whose Torah is their living" to
talk between aliyoth. If one looks up the definition of "whose Torah is
their living" this refers say to a market trader who ONLY earns
sufficient for his livelihood (food, clothing shelter and family) every
day and spends the rest of the time learning. (The phrase does not refer
say to a Rabbi who gets paid a wage for Torah activities (or in lieu of
lost wages he would have had in another job)). But the American economy
is constructed so that all people can have a 9-5 job, retire reasonably,
and then pursue those activities they desire. So today all or many
people would have a status of "whose Torah is their living."

Enough said for now...I believe I have shown a direction consistent with
Jewish law to talk about Torah during leining and I believe this
direction is fully consistent with Jewish sources and philosophy

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d. A.S.A. http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


End of Volume 54 Issue 11