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.]