Monday, December 31, 2012

Open Thread: Going on vacation to a place without a minyan

I have many contradictory thoughts on the subject in the title of this post, including:

1. Rav Moshe Feinstein wrote that who is distracted by the way his local minyan is conducted is still obligated to attend, unless he cannot even concentrate on the basic meaning of the words;

2. In the days of the gemara, many sages often davened without a minyan;

3. Rav Moshe permits missing certain mitzvos, such as sitting in a succah, for the sake of touring in special locations;

4. The Rambam (Hilchos Tefilah 8:1, and see Kesef Mishneh's sources there) writes that the prayer of the community is always heard before Gd, and so one must never miss davening with the community;

5. Certain rites - the Torah reading, kaddish, emulating of the angelic kedushah - may be performed only in a community;

6. I know Rabbis I respect who will take vacations in places without minyanim.

Much more could be said on this, but I'm curious what others will write. What do you think of this?


  1. hakol lfi hazman veini hamoreh horaah (a fancy way of saying life is sometimes grey and you need to carefully evaluate conflicting positive priorities)
    Joel Rich

  2. R' Joel,

    What?! That's too hard! I need something from the self-help section of my bookstore that tells me exactly what I (and everyone else) should do! Argh!!

  3. Related is the (possibly meaningless) question of whether the baseline halakhah is to daven, and davening with a minyan is a hiddur (a beautification beyond the requirement) or whether halachically we are required to daven with a minyan, and davening alone is a way to fulfil the majority of the mitzvah in an imperfect (because it's only that majority) way?

  4. 3) is surprising. 1) is, ahem, problematic for me at the moment.

  5. There are many issues at stake here.

    When I go on vacation, I generally look for places with a minyan available nearby, but it is not always possible, especially if there are other halachic issues such as:

    - Kibud Horim - my parents live in a place with no daily minyan (the nearest daily minyan is 3 time zones away - a 2.5 hour flight), but visiting ones parents overrides the requirements of a daily minyan.

    - Shalom Bayit - if my wife or family have their hearts set on a family vacation, and not going because there is no minyan would upset them, it may be preferable to forgo the obligation of a minyan.

    - Cost - If accommodation near a shul is considerably more than alternative accommodation, sometimes one may be forced to compromise on the requirements of a minyan

  6. R'SR,
    There are (imho unfortunatley) a plethora of such available - I say unfortunately because it's like diagnosing off the internet (but worse) - one dosen't even always know the right questions to ask or facts that can make a difference.

    BTW - here's something I found from a blog named Hirhurim, but I wouldn't trust the summary - the author is imho a little OTD

    R’ Yehoshua Grunstein – Halachot of vacation – How “crazy” must I go to attend a Minyan?:'crazy'_must_I_go_to_attend_a_Minyan?
    Is having/going to a minyan an individual responsibility or a community one? (differing opinions) Halachic parameters of how far (separate question – time or distance?) do you have to travel for a minyan (or is it for water to wash before prayer?). [me – be selfish, daven with a minyan! – see Rambam Hilchot Tfila]

    Joel Rich

  7. I know / knew many profound Rabbanim (incl several Haredi rabbanim) who vacationed in places without a minyan. (A cousin of mine who has a house in a completely secular, then isolated, but very beautiful setting in Israel at the top of Mt Carmel was astonished many years ago to find that his summer tenant was the Toldos Aharon rebbe. More surprising was the clear evidence of intensive usage of his library of ancient Semitic literature!). The drive (via social pressure) to force people to ONLY vacation with the 'group' is another example of the increasing effort to totally control tthe lives of observant Jews.

  8. I asked my LOR about this idea. He said the Rav Hutner & many other Rabbanim vacationed away from the masses.

  9. R' Saul,
    That was them, who can say if we are at that level?
    Joel Rich

  10. Related to RJR's last comment.... A rav with the fame of a R' Hutner probably couldn't actually get a vacation if it was a place frequented by other frum Jews. We, however, can get rest and mental decompression without avoiding people's non-urgent questions or simple desire to speak to a gadol. (At least I can, I won't speak to the Commentator's, R' Saul's or RJR's experiences.)

  11. why turn things like this into philosophies of life. it's a halachik question. ask your posek and get a halachik answer.

  12. Joel 1, Shalom-
    Hence my post.

    R' Micha 1-
    Can you provide sources for the latter possibility?

    Glad to surprise, at any rate.

    Indeed; I didn't even get into those external factors, which certainly can weigh down one side of the scale.

    Joel 2-
    Interesting, especially as that magid shiur served as Rav in a community which often lacked a minyan during the week…

    Commentator, Saul-
    Indeed. Those stories are the frustrating ones, because they don't come with quotes justifying them…

    R' Micha 2-
    An interesting point; I had been looking at the trip as an opportunity to experience something unique in that particular destination, not as a way to escape something else.

    Because the halachic calculus can go either way here.

  13. In reply to Mojo - Years ago I asked a Sheila to one of my Ramim in Yeshiva - he said that there is a Mitzva do daven each day with a minyan; there is no Mitzva to go on vacation.

    That said, in certain cases there is a Mitzva to travel (as I mentioned above Kibud Horim, Shalom Bayit, Parnassa, etc) in which case it may be OK to travel to a place with no minyan available - but each case has to be addressed individually.

  14. Reb Moshe forbade missing sukka for the sake of touring.

  15. dlz-
    See Igros Moshe Even haEzer 4:32:8, which first deals with touring in Israel and then continues to address touring in general. Where this is the only time one can see something exceptional, he permits.

    I'm excerpting the directly relevant piece here:
    לאו דוקא א"י שיש אולי גם מצוה בזה אלא אף הנוסע למדינה אחרת שאיכא דברים שרוצין האינשי לראות יהיה רשאי אם לא יוכל להיות שם איזה ימים אחר הסוכות לראות זה. אבל לצאת לטיול ולתענוג היציאה לבד אסור כשלא יוכל לאכול ולישן בסוכה. וכן כשיש לו איזה ימים לטייל אחר הסוכות אינו רשאי אף בא"י לילך לראות במקום שלא יהיה סוכה כדכתבתי.

  16. i distinctly recall in late 1970's Harav Avraham Price, one of the great poskim of Toronto who vacationed in a cottage near Collingwood Ontario in the summer w/o a minyan. The only time i saw him was when one of his former students would go and drive him to the Wasaga Beach shul on Motzai Shabbat Tisha Bav and Sunday for kinot and Eicha. He spent Shabbat itself w/o a minyan.

  17. When in doubt, check it out...

    Check out

    Search for minyan in __________ (fill in the blank)

    And if you know of a minyan that isn't listed please let us know.