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Thursday, June 17, 2004


Talking During Davening

This is a problem that plagues many, many synagogues/shuls. Some people talk quietly, and try to hush up for leining and shmoneh esrei. Others talk loudly and obnoxiously through the whole service. Sometimes there's a designated shusher who tries to maintain decorum. Other times a few people shush and a few talkers retort with angry comments. Bickering and even outright fighting result. All during the Torah reading. Or Kaddish.

I think it's tragic, and even though I have some very specific shuls and people in mind, I'm addressing this to the community at large.

1. Talking during davening means you don't care about God. Sounds trite and childish, but it's a fact.

Not only that, but it also means you don't mind disturbing other people who may be trying to daven. Case in point: On Shavuos this year, the guys on either side of me finished shmoneh esrei before I did, and proceeded to talk loudly, *through* me, while I tried to finish davening.

2. Talking during leining means you don't care about Torah.
It's not about the baal korei or the rabbi or the people around you - it's the TORAH, for Pete's sake. (Almost said chrissakes - haha.) If you're an observant Jew, isn't the Torah something of a priority in your life? Apparently not.

3. Talking during kaddish or even the misheberachs means you don't care about other people.
And again, what you're saying is: You may have a sick friend, or you may have lost a family member, or you may be praying for the wounded in Israel, but I don't give a crap. But keep in mind: What happens when you're saying kaddish, rachmono litzlon?

I don't think anyone means to say these things maliciously, and if that's the case, just stay out of shul. You can talk in the back room, or outside. Do so to your heart's content. If you want to ask someone a question or share a comment or check which page we're on in the siddur or something, and you can't leave shul, do it QUIETLY. Pretend you're at a movie or a library, l'havdil.

It makes me angry to see people ignoring the importance of shul, but then looking down on someone else for their perceived lack of frumkeit. It doesn't balance out.

Lastly, I heard a prominent mechanech once talking to the 7th and 8th graders in his school. He pointed out that the Hippocratic oath starts with 'First, do no harm.' Medicine is a very powerful discipline that enables people to heal others, but when applied incorrectly, it can cause irreparable harm. Shul's the same way. You're not accomplishing anything by sitting there and fidgeting and talking and disturbing. In fact, you're harming yourself and the people around you. So don't do it.

I hope to hear some comments on this. And I hope I didn't offend anyone. If you're offended, get over it. And stop talking in shul.

Great post. If only those who needed to read it would.
there is a conversation thread over at hirhurim about this.

And my own take on the subject, here:
Why I Support Talking In Shul
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