Thursday, May 24, 2012

"And I might be praying a bit too loud, but that never hurt no one"

On the day after Pesach, on our family's trip back to Toronto, I chanced to daven shacharis in a small town about midway between Long Island and Toronto. After the first kaddish, a gentleman who had recited kaddish approached to tell me that I was davening too loud, enough so that it had disturbed him.

In truth, I sometimes do mutter a bit. And when I am exhausted my voice may drop a bit, into a more rumbling tone. And it was a very small room, so that all of us were very close together. All the same, I had been completely unaware.

Over the years, I have heard from several people, from multiple shuls, about their problems with co-congregants who daven in a tone that is loud enough to disturb them. I always noted that the audible daveners may simply be unaware of their volume – and now I had personal evidence that one could be loud enough to disturb, without realizing it at all.

So here are some suggested strategies for people who need to get the message across to their neighbours:

Hand your neighbour a card saying, "You are too loud."

Stick your fingers in your ears.

Pocket-dial his cell phone.

Post a bad review of the shul on GoDaven.

Ask him questions that relate to his davening – such as, "Based on your concentration in Barech Aleinu [a prayer for livelihood], sounds like you could use a hand!" Or "What did you do to make Slach Lanu [a prayer for forgiveness] so serious?"

Underline the word "Silent" in "Silent Amidah" in the siddur and hand it to him.

Ask aloud, "When did this shul install a microphone?"

Your turn - what would you do?

[For a serious post on the value of silent prayer, click here.]


  1. Hah. The rabbi gets mussar!

  2. This is actually a big problem in my shul. I won't say more publicly, except to note that one person's response is to "SHHHH!!!!" really loudly, which only compounds the problem.

    Thinking creatively, perhaps quiet could be encouraged by employing a mime as shaliach tzibbur. He could rub his forehead pensively for "Atah chonen", cup his hand to his ear for "Shema koleinu" and fall over and get up again for "Refaeinu."

  3. Melech-
    When does the rabbi not get mussar?

    I like it!

  4. I'd ignore it on the assumption that if hearing another person's prayers bothers me that much, it is a shortcoming in me.

  5. Shalom RosenfeldMay 25, 2012 at 5:33 AM

    You've probably heard this one, but nonetheless:

    All the Jews of Hotzenplotz invested with Yossel. One day out of the blue, Yossel went completely bankrupt. Everyone lost everything. Except for Shmerel, who it turns out had pulled out his savings two days earlier. What insider information did he have?

    "I sit behind Yossel in shul. Normally, shmoneh esrei, he's done in 45 seconds flat. Then two days ago, I started seeing beseeching the L-rd with earth-shattering kavanah -- *ki lishuascha kivinu kol hayom*! *Ribbono shel olam!! Please I beg you! Bring mashiach right now! Right away!*"



    On a more serious note, I'm told people asked RYBS why he's audible during shmoneh esrei, he insisted he wasn't. Apparently he wasn't aware otherwise.

  6. If he really wants quiet davening, he could try uman on rosh hashana. I am sure he will enjoy it.

  7. Regarding Salom's story:

    Did Shmerel then have an obligation to warn the other investors in time to prevent their own losses?