Religion & Beliefs

Shut Up At Shul

At one point on the first day of Rosh Hashana the talking at the Orthodox synagogue where I was davening pretty much drowned out the cantor’s voice. I switched seats a couple of times and ended up in the balcony, … Read More

By / September 18, 2007

At one point on the first day of Rosh Hashana the talking at the Orthodox synagogue where I was davening pretty much drowned out the cantor’s voice. I switched seats a couple of times and ended up in the balcony, where the talking was still totally audible, but at least I didn’t feel tempted to give people dirty looks, which is neither effective nor in the spirit of starting fesh and being good. Even way up in the nosebleed section, though, I was bothered by all of the socializing that went on. Let me be clear: I am not exactly one hundred percent focused on the siddur on your average Shabbat service, let alone in a service that’s twice as long. Certainly I chat with my friends on occasion, and when I’m visiting my parents in Chicago I frequently ask my dad Jew-y questions during davening. There’s a pretty normal tide of talking that happens during any service, and I generally don’t find it bothersome. What I don’t get, though, are people who insist on using synagogues as exclusively social entities. Want to have a long conversation with your friend Betty about Tillie’s ugly baby? That’s why God invented Kiddush, people. But that discussion is not best accompanied by a shofar, or the dirges of Kol Nidre. If you don’t want to come to shul, or if you just feel like putting in an appearance but you don’t buy any of this God crap, I think that’s fine. It’s your own business, and I don’t have the time or inclination to deal with it. But if you DO show up, the least you can do is try to refrain from ruining for the rest of us. Bring a book, for the love of God! Read US magazine for all I care, or have thumb wars with your sister, or make eyes at the cute guy around the room. Just please keep your commentary down to a low hum. Interestingly, the siddur I use on Shabbat has a mi sheberach in it that’s meant to be said before returning the Torah to the ark, and it asks God to protect people who keep their mouths shut during davening. It’s kind of hilarious, and kind of brilliant. If you won’t listen to me, maybe you’ll take it from SuperDavener! Below is an insane and ridiculous movie about not talking during davening made by prepubescent yeshiva boys. It features a superhero who wears boxers outside his pants, and his his tsitsit coming out the bottom of his boxers.