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Hachrazah 5768 Nisan 9 h

Sanhedrin Bulletin #1

Informal translation from Hebrew of the 9 Nisan, 5768 (14 April 2008) statement:

Participation in prayers in a synagogue of another group

In the Talmud Tractate Brachot 6b, we find the following statement of Rabbi Chelbo in the name of Rav Huna:

”Everyone who sets a play for their prayer – the G-d of Abraham helps them, and when he passes away, they say of him: Such a humble person, such a pious person, one of the students of Abraham our father. And Abraham our father, from where do we know that he set a place for his prayer, as it says: “And Abraham got up in the morning to the place where he stood there, in front of G-d” (Genesis 15:27) – And there is no standing except for prayer.

Further on (page 7b), the words of Rabbi Yochanan, in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, are brought:

Anyone who makes permanent his place of prayer, his enemies fall before him.

These Talmudic words were codified for halacha in the Shulchan Aruch in Orach Chaim 90:19:

”A person should make a set place for his prayer except for a real need, and it is not enough that a person sets a synagogue for himself to pray in, but also in that set synagogue, there needs to be for that person a set place.”

Many reasons have been said by the commentators of the Talmud and Shulchan Aruch for this halacha, and the differences among them have different halachic implications from each of the reasons. (For example: For some of the Rishonim, the need for setting a place is only for those that pray at home – Sefer haMichtam, Rabbeinu Yona and others, while the opinion of other Rishonim is that it is in regards to the synagogue – the Rosh, the Meiri, and others)

Likewise, even for other reasons, it is proper for a person to set for himself a place for prayer that is fitting for his own prayer rite, and that is to prevent halachic questions which arise when people prayer in minyans (quorums) that pray in different rites (for example: Does a Sephardi person fulfill his obligation for the Torah reading when he hears someone read with Ashkenazic pronunciation, etc.)

In spite of the above halachic questions, it was decided in a meeting of the Sanhedrin to call to the whole public to set aside a few times per year to pray in the synagogue of a different group and community, with the purpose to strengthen the ties between all the tribes of Israel.

It is recommended to prefer doing this on the Sabbath eve of “Shabbat Mevarchim”, or the Sabbath after Rosh Chodesh, as the set time which is easy to remember to do consistently. During the Sabbath eve prayers, there is no, as is known, Torah reading, and therefore one can avoid the halachic questions mentioned above.

Likewise, it is recommended to bring children for these prayers, something which would help them, from an educational perspective, to understand and feel that every group and community is holy and important in the eyes of G-d. (While when one is strict – zealously strict – to pray in a certain defined minyan, causes the matter to feel as if every other minyan does not properly represent Judaism)

Click here to see the Hebrew version