Thursday, August 31, 2017


Talking During Davening

   by Reb Gutman Locks   

Talking During Davening


     What should we do about the talkers during davening? They can be very intrusive, even rude, disrespectful, a nuisance at best. I know what I would like to do to them… but then I remember this story:

     The rabbi in a large village in Europe passed away and the congregation begged his son to take over. The young rabbi said, "I will take responsibility for the shul on the condition that you stop talking during davening. It is forbidden to talk about secular matters in shul and all the more so during davening."

     They quickly agreed, and both sides of the bargain kept their word. The davening became as it should be, Jews focusing on the prayers and not their social lives.

     But then, after a while, the rabbi noticed that there were more divorces in his village than before. And there were more small businesses closing, and more people asking for tzedakah (charity) than before.

     The rabbi was smart enough to trace the problems back to the community coming together in the shul. When they were allowed to talk they became aware of each other's' problems and often were able to help one another, at the very least they would pray for one another. But now that talking was forbidden they were really unaware of each other's situation.

     The rabbi announced, "From now on you are to go back to talking with each other in shul even during davening if you want. They were totally relieved and it went back to the way it used to be…. Sure enough, the divorce rate went back to the very rare once in a while that it was before, and a lot of the poverty was relieved… things got better for the community.

     It has been shown that people who daven in a minyan live longer than those who daven alone. Next time you are bugged by someone talking in shul, smile and say, "I hope he's all right."




  1. "Likutei Halachos Sheadam Dash B'akeivav - A Small Compendium of Commonly Neglected Laws"

    Levity is forbidden in synagogues and batei midrash. Levity includes joking, laughing, fooling and idle conversation, among other things.Shulchan Aruch, O”Ch 151.

    Idle conversation even includes talk about secular subjects that is permitted elsewhere, such as business matters, not to mention generally forbidden talk, such as lashon hara, rechilut and vexatious speech. Mishneh Brura, ibid.

    During the Chazan’s repetition of Shmoneh Esrei the congregation must remain silent, concentrate and answer “amen” after each bracha. If there are not at least nine concentrating on the brachot and answering “amen,” then they are virtually brachot levatala. Therefore, each person should conduct himself as if there will not be nine concentrating without him. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 124.

    Conversation is strictly forbidden during the Chazan’s repetition of Shmoneh Esrei. If one speaks at this time, his sin is too great to bear, and he must be reprimanded. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 124.

    Even reciting Tehilim or other prayers and learning Torah are forbidden during the Chazan’s repetition of Shmoneh Esrei. Mishneh Brura, ibid.; Derech Moshe 28.
    and mental illness, car accidents and the like. Mikdash Maat, chap. 2 and passim.

  2. Cont.

    We have witnessed the destruction of a number of synagogues due to this sin. Mishneh Brura, ibid., quoting Eliyah Rabba.

    Once Kriat HaTorah has begun, it is forbidden to talk, even words of Torah. Restrictions apply even between aliyot. It is highly questionable whether one may even learn Torah silently instead of following the Torah reading. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 146; Beur Halacha, ibid.
    One who talks during Kriat HaTorah flagrantly enacts the dreaded verse (Bamidbar 15:31), “d’var Hashem baza - despising the word of G-d.”

    It is forbidden to talk or learn during any other part of t’fila, even during the recitation of supplementary piyutim that one is not accustomed to say. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 68.

    Idle conversation is forbidden even when the congregation is not praying, i.e., before and after t’fila. Derech Moshe 29.

    It is a mitzva to attend synagogues and batei midrash, but if someone engages there in idle conversation, his transgression outweighs the mitzva. Derech Moshe 29.

    If a person cannot control his talking in the beit k’neset, it is preferable that he pray at home and not attend the beit k’neset at all. Kaf Hachaim, Orach Chayim 151.

    Every congregation should appoint special monitors from among its elders and most important members to prevent talking and other inappropriate behavior. Morah Mikdash. Those who talk should be rebuked, and even embarrassed publicly, despite wealth or position. Derech Moshe §29; Vavei HaAmudim, Amud HaAvoda 10.

    A person must make it clear to others that he does not talk in the beit k’neset, and he should not be concerned that they might view the observance of these halachot as arrogance on his part. Peleh Yoetz.

    The first step to observing k’dushat beit k’neset is avoiding the wrong company there. Rav Avigdor Miller, z”l.

    One who talks in a beit k’neset or beit midrash is an ignorant fool who shows his contempt for Hakodosh Boruch Hu, drives out the Shechina and causes it to depart from Klal Yisrael. He is a transgressor who induces others to sin, causes the galut to be prolonged and prevents prayers from being heard. He has no share in the G-d of Israel. Zohar; Or Tzadikim; Shaarei Teshuva; Hagahos Yesh Nochalin L’avi HaShalah.

    Of such a person it is written (Yeshayahu 43:22), “Lo oti karata Ya’akov,” indicating that he is not worthy of his Jewish ancestry. Mishneh Brura 56:1, quoting M’sechet Derech Eretz.

    Hashem deflects every accusation of the Satan against Klal Yisrael with His attribute of Mercy. But when the Satan mentions their idle chatter and disrespect in the beit k’neset, Hashem has no response, so to speak, for even gentiles conduct themselves with awe and reverence in their places of worship. Hashem thereupon gives the Satan permission to wreak destruction. Mikdash Maat 2:2; Derech Moshe §8; Aruch HaShulchan, Orach Chayim 124:12; Yalkut HaUrim.

    Talking in a beit k’neset or beit midrash therefore causes personal and communal tragedies, including plagues, epidemics, infant and childhood deaths, sickness such as cancer, heart disease

  3. Cont.

    and mental illness, car accidents and the like. Mikdash Maat, chap. 2 and passim.

  4. The Shalah Hakodesh wrote 1 million Jews were killed in Tach V Tat 1648 for talking in Shul... and you say go ahead and do it... I'll hold by the Shalah.

  5. @Spr22...

    Reb Gutman is only trying to find merit. The Rebbe of the Shul in the story quoted was surely aware of all these halachot but nevertheless advised them to speak. This is because in certain conditions the 'needs of the community' is necessary and can be discussed.

    This is like a great Rav, Rabbi Yorkevitch zatzal (a direct descendant of the holy Berditchiver, told me that one should imagine that all the speech is words of Torah (In other words, to go to great lengths to find merit...)

    Lastly, you may be unaware, but Reb Gutman is very experienced with refraining from speech. He did not speak for along time when he was doing meditations (months maybe years!!!). Therefore he is the right person to quote this story which shows the great value of Jews getting together to speak.

    This is the perfect story for Elul preparations when we get ready for building the higher 'speech' Malchut, Hashem's royalty.

    Shana Tova u'Metukah to Reb Gutman and all the readers of this blog

  6. My view on this is likely to be controversial but I am going to post it nonetheless.

    In Israel I used to stay at a friend's, and we would go to an early Shabbat Minyan.
    Started at 7 in the morning.
    Was finished by about 8.40, and was back at the friend's for 9am Kiddush and a light breakfast.

    I liked it.

    It was no nonsense.
    The davening was straightforward, the service was focussed, and the people there calm and happy to be in a shul in Israel on shabbat.

    What I think encourages talking during prayer is a long "shlepped out" service.

    Call me a heretic, but after an hour and forty five minutes it is enough for me.

    There will be Mincha and Maariv to come anyway.

    And the chance to go to afternoon Shiurim, or to sit in the shul and quietly study alone.

    It is no wonder people talk when services are long, and sermons are too long also.


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