Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Joining with the Congregation When You Aren't Davening with the Congregation

We don't have this as much any more, but in halacha there is a difference between a בית כנסת/shul and a בית מדרש/beis medrash.  That is, there are rooms/buildings designated for praying and other rooms designated for learning.  Nowadays, of course, we mostly have multipurpose rooms; we pray and learn (and have kiddush's) in the selfsame room.  A good friend of mine has noted to me that when people say "many say", they mean that they say; when they say "everyone says", they mean that their wife agrees with them.  I am therefore saying, of course, is that based on my vast experience of having visited a half a dozen or shuls (/beis medrash!) in Chicago over the last 20 years or so.  My conclusion that most places in the world are like the half dozen or so I have visited.  I am quite confident that my conclusion is no less accurate that many internet news feeds.

I bring this up because I want to discuss an interesting halacha regarding walking into a shul (not beis medrash) when a congregation is already there davening.  The Shulchan Aruch (O.Ch. 65:2) discusses a case where someone who has already recited krias shma (that is, he has fulfilled his obligation, for now anyway) enters a shul where the congregation is just now beginning their recitation of krias shma.  The Shulchan Aruch says that he must recite the first verse (which include ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד, by the way, MB sk 10) with the congregation.  Why?  So it doesn't look like he doesn't want to accept the sovereignty of HaShem along with his colleagues.  The Mishna Brura (sk 9) notes that this same conduct (to recite along with the congregation) applies to anything else that they congregation is saying together.  He cites ashrei and aleinu as prime examples.  The reason for all this?  Just דרך ארץ/good manners/common courtesy.

In point of fact, though, there are three levels of obligation -- from highest to lowest: obligated to join and participate, obligated to participate (but not join), not obligated to participate at all (but nothing wrong if you so choose.  These are elucidated Igros Moshe, O.Ch. 3, 99.  (Please all say together: I love my Dirshu Mishna Brura!)  There is also one case where he does not even need to say קריאת שמע along with them, as explained by Ohr L'Tzion, Vol 2, 45:8 (or maybe 135:8).  (Now I am just showing off.)

Obligated to join and participate (על פי דין):
When the congregation is saying קדושה (Igros Moshe O.Ch. 3:99).  A Jew is really obligated to sanctify HaShem's Name every moment of the day.  Moreover, we as the Jewish people are similarly obligated sanctify HaShem's Name every moment of the day; that is, after all, the meaning of our title: ישראל.  By joining this group, then we are fulfilling our personal mission and also enhancing our national mission -- ברוב עם הדרת מלך/the more members of the nation participate, the greater glory for the king.

Obligated to participate (דרך ארץ):
When the congregation is engaged in קריאת שמע, אשרי, עלינו.  For each of those, Chazal have set a fixed obligation each day; two or three times.  Doing more is laudable, but not an obligation.  To not join the congregation would therefore be a breach of דרך ארץ, since it appears as if you are shunning your obligation.  You aren't, of course, as we are discussing a case where you already fulfilled your obligation; but... still...

Not obligated to participate (but it's a free country, so you may if you like):
When the congregation is engaged in slichos; again, we are discussing a case where you already said slichos).  Every Jew has an obligation to reach out to HaShem in a time of distress.  It's certainly a nice thing to feel so empathetic that you want to join, but Chazal are not going to require it.

For those of you who are still wondering what could be the case where you are not obligated to join a congregation saying קריאת שמע... that would be when they are davening after the appointed time for קריאת שמע but while they still have time to daven shacharis.  In that case, they are only saying קריאת שמע in order that their t'fila should be in the midst of divrei Torah.  That never happens if you daven k'vasikin, by the way.  Just saying.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…

Thought for the Day: Prayer II -- How?

Now that we know that the obligation to pray is nothing more (nor less!) than a divine decree, we are going to also need instructions from heaven on how to implement that decree.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have instruction from heaven how to implement heavenly decrees.  One only needs to look at the shambles that one modern ism has made of the very important Torah principle of תיקון עולם/improving and fixing the world.  They have taken words out of context and used them to support their own nefarious schemes.  (To the point that Google Translate actually translates -- not transliterates -- תיקון עולם as Tikkun Olam.  Amelia Bedelia would be proud; we are not amused.

The Torah teaches us how to pray in two complementary fashions.  One is the way in which the concept is presented as an obligation, the other is by giving us examples of how to practically implement those instructions.

The obligation is introduced in the second paragraph of "sh'ma" -- וּלְ…