Friday, April 21, 2006

Tefillah, Torah Reading, and Talking

Imagine: You are in the courtroom, accused of a capital offense. The prosecuting attorney has just concluded a scathing attack on your case. You turn to your defense attorney, only to find him speechless.

All seems lost. As a last ditch effort you arrange a meeting with the judge. The meeting is scheduled in his chamber at 8:45 am, sharp.

You, along with a friend, arrive at the chamber early. You strike up a conversation with your friend. You are so entrenched in the conversation that you fail to recognize the judge entering the chamber. After a while of chatting, you turn up only to notice the judge turning around, leaving the chamber, and closing the door behind him.

We, the Jewish People find ourselves in a dire situation. Whether it be from Iran or some other source, we are being attacked from all around. The only way we can be saved from the situation is to turn to HaShem (G-d). The Jewish way to turn to HaShem is through prayer.

The zohar says that when people talk in shul (synagogue) during prayers and the Torah reading, they may cause the Shechinah, HaShem's Divine Presence, to leave the sanctuary. Furthermore, for the sin of talking during times of the prayer when speaking is forbidden, the Satan (Prosecuting Angel) is permitted to prosecute against the speakers, unimpeded.

One must learn when it is forbidden to talk. Briefly, during the following parts of tefillah, one may not talk (with the exception of a potentially life-threatening situation and one who is about to sin unless immediately told what they are about to do is forbidden):

1) Kaddish
2) Chazzan's repetition of Shemonah Esrei (lit. the 18 blessings recited are the shema prayer).
3) Kedushah
4) Torah Reading
5) Pisukei D'Zimrah
6) Blessings of the Shema
7) Shema
8) Haftorah Reading

Note: Although the above consists of most areas where it is forbidden to speak (even Torah matters), it is not a complete list.

All Jews should merit to be silent during prayers and Torah Reading (aside from the two exceptions listed) and thereby merit to a salvation from our dire situation, speedily is our days! Amen!

Addition: June, 11 2006 - 16 Sivan 5766 - Even one who organizes the prayer service, such as the rabbi and gabbai, may not speak - even to arrange for people to take part in the service. One may talk to prevent a potential danger to life or health.


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