Dreaming of Moshiach

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Recently, we moved to a different neighborhood, and I've been forced to find a close shul where I can daven. This shabbos I tried out a new shul.

I've heard much about the rav and thought that it was time to go - especially since I would get to go alone and really focus on my davening - being able to daven with kavana is fantastic.

Unfortunately, I was left with a bitter taste. When I walked in to the shul, I could hear a low buzz; then I realized that I was hearing talking - TALKING - during laining. The ba'al korei had to raise his voice to be heard over the people, many times he had to stop and wait for silence before continuing. This happened also by davening. One had to strain to hear what the ba'al tefila was saying. Don't think that the talking was limited - oh no, it was equal opportunity - both men and ladies were talking away. In fact, as it was my first time in shul a couple of ladies came up to me while I was davening to talk. I nodded, smiled, and fluttered my hand - indicating, I thought, that I could not speak. One lady finally understood. Oh, she said, you are at a point in davening where you can't speak? I smiled gratefully, not telling her that I was in shul and I don't speak until after davening was over.

On the mens' side a dull roar of voices hovered over the room, many times someone banged on a shtender, even speaking: Please, shhh! -- and yet, people continued to speak.

Why don't people realize what they are giving up by speaking during davening? I exhort you, don't speak to your fellow man during davening, this is your opportunity to speak to HaKadosh Baruch Hu! Make time after davening, stand around, shmooze, but let davening be dedicated to The One Above.

"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.

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

Please follow these halachot no matter what those around you say or do. Cultivate your personal sense of Hashem’s presence, and recognize that, in a beit k’neset or beit midrash, you stand before the Shechina, literally. If you don’t believe this, can’t act on it or feel indifferent about it, you have a serious problem of fundamental faith that may be infecting all of your Torah observance and learning. Pray to the Ribono Shel Olam for help and seek guidance from an authentic Torah personality.


YES! I want to commit myself, b'li neder, to refrain from idle speech during Davening and the reading of the Torah. Please enter my name on the list of those who have taken it upon themselves to respect the kedusah of the Bais Kenesses, the sanctity of the synagogue, to restore Kavanah and concentration to Davening, and to dedicate their time in Shul to Avodah Shebelev, worship of the heart.

__ Please send me information on starting an Awareness campaign in my community

__ I would like to help support the effort to increase Awareness throughout the Jewish world
Please mail to:

"Awareness" c/o Max Safrin
650 Bailey Avenue, Elizabeth New Jersey 07208
Fax: (908) 688-1135

Please copy this brochure and distribute in your shul http://www.project-awareness.org/page_basics.htm




והיה השם למלך על כל הארץ, ביום ההוא יהיה השם אחד - ושמו אחד ישתבח שמו לעד לנצח נצחים בכל העולמות Blessed is His name for eternity in all worlds אין עוד מלבדו