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At some point in our history, the rabbi's Derashah, or sermon, went from being taboo to being so integral to the service that some Shuls have ushers to keep the doors closed at that time so that no one may enter or leave.

I'll refrain from asking about the provenance of this transition or the appropriateness of affording more respect to the sermon than (in many places) even Shemoneh 'Esreh. What I'm really interested in is, now that this has taken on such an important status, does that mean that there is some Halachic weight to the sermon, such that (aside from general Kavod for the sensibilities of those around us) one would actually be required to stay in the Shul for the sermon, one may not talk during the sermon, and/or one may not engage in other Torah learning during the sermon?

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I was going to title this, "Am I a bad Jew if I don't listen to the rabbi's sermon," but I felt that might be too subjective and not specific enough to answer. – Seth J Jul 17 '12 at 3:39
I suppose it could be טרחא דצבורא to talk or to go in and out. – Seth J Jul 17 '12 at 4:13
It is a little insulting to the Rabbi if you get up and leave when he starts speaking. – Menachem Jul 17 '12 at 17:41
@Menachem, let's say you leave just prior. Or let's say you have a small child who may not behave. Should you stay and hush the child or have someone watch the child outside while you stay and listen? During Tefillah, people generally just hush the child or leave and come back or have someone who has already Davened take the child. Is the Derashah of such importance that you really should stay if possible? – Seth J Jul 17 '12 at 18:02
How do you/we know the rabbi's Derashah, or sermon, was once taboo? – Tamir Evan Dec 4 '14 at 17:46

In short, to answer the question, I personally do not believe that there is any special halakhic status for sermons.


If you get the rabbi's permission to avoid the sermon, then it is my hunch that it is in fact Halachically permissible to avoid it. However, if people notice that you are missing, I recommend telling them that the rabbi explicitly permitted to skip it, since you did get permission after all.

The minhag at many batei k'nesiyot is that it is permissible to enter quietly during a sermon, but never to leave. However if one must leave for an emergency, it should also be done quietly. I have seen people reading sefarim during sermons, but I believe this is because people would fall asleep otherwise, which is a greater level of disrespect. Therefore, to avoid that, they learn, which is not so bad in comparison and it prevents a more severe transgression.

Also, children who are well-behaved are permitted to sit in the main sanctuary and listen quietly to the rabbi as long as they will not cause any interruptions. But many children stay at home on shabbat morning or have their own groups with their friends where parents send them to stay out of trouble.

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How does this answer the question? – Double AA Jul 18 '12 at 19:43
@DoubleAA - "Is it Halachically wrong to avoid the rabbi's sermon?" - I said that it is permissible. – Adam Mosheh Jul 18 '12 at 19:46
Now that is an answer! It is unsourced and purely speculation, but it at least answers the right question. – Double AA Jul 18 '12 at 20:13
@AdamMosheh, as far as 99% of people who read this are concerned, you are nothing but a pseudonym on the Internet. No offense. – Isaac Moses Jul 18 '12 at 20:55
@AdamMosheh, good answers show their work, whether that be sources, reasoning, experience (for practical questions), etc. Even prominent scholars cite their sources; shouldn't we lesser students strive to emulate them? And, as Isaac said, on the internet nobody knows you're a scholar. – Monica Cellio Jul 18 '12 at 22:00

A story which may shed some light. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was wishing farewell to a student going back to his home state for bein hazmanim. He told the young scholar that when the community Rabbi spoke between Mincha and Maariv, he should be careful to listen and not to learn any other sfarim, even though that Rabbi was not so learned. He reasoned, this Rabbis words are the only connection the congregation has to any degree of Torah. If they see you listening and taking it seriously, they will too. If they see you uninterested and unimpressed, they will be too.

As brought in Meged Givaas Olam.

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