If there is a lot of talking (or other halakhic impropriety) in a synagogue, what are some of the considerations that go into the decision regarding what to do about it?

Here are some ideas of what to do, though there may be more:

  1. do nothing and continue praying at my synagogue and attempt to set a good example (but risk being distracted in my prayers and c"v be seduced by the negative environment around me into committing the exact same crimes that I am worried about);
  2. pray by myself at home (but without a minyan, so I miss out on Barchu, Kedushah, Torah reading, Kaddish, et al.);
  3. be a whistleblower and try to establish a breakaway minyan (but risk being cold-shouldered by the "establishment" or annihilated by an angry mob).

(somehow inspired by this question)


3 Answers 3


I choose option 1 (be a good example) because I think that option 2 (pray at home) is hurting you more than helping you and option 3 (break away minyan) goes against the duty of all who are able to combine Yiras Shamayim and Ahavas Yisrael.

Personally, I only react to talking if it is particularly loud and/or actually disturbing me during the Amidah. I do my best to ignore the sadly common susurrus in shul, accepting that most people present in my shul are simply waiting for the service to end, being unable to understand the Hebrew they are reading.

In the spirit of "it takes a village to raise a child", though, if there are young kids with whom I have a friendly relationship who are talking loudly I will shush them audibly, trying to show exasperation rather than anger.

If there are adults making a lot of noise while I'm davening I try to to show them that they're disturbing me by quietly and without fuss closing my eyes and... ahem... sticking my fingers in my ears. Yes, it makes me look stupid, but I feel it gets my point across accurately and without embarrassing any (other) individual. This is an indirect rebuke and has never evoked an angry response. It doesn't work very well (the conversation usually continues), but it's my way of protesting.

Let me also say that I do not to any degree expect the talking behaviour of the shul to change through my example. I feel obliged to protest, but it would be tragically arrogant to think I have that much influence. My part is to behave properly myself.

  • "sticking my fingers in my ears" - you're silly, +1. Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 14:38
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    @AdamMosheh Thank you. ;-) I am not making it up. I really do this when the talking gets too much. It shows my feelings and shuts out the noise at the same time. Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 7:55

we are am yisrael and we must tolerate each other, we must do everything we can to try and be united, so the best solution is sit next to people that dont talk

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    +1, "we are am yisrael and we must tolerate each other, we must do everything we can to try and be united" ... BEST ANSWER!!! Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 14:39

Call out for the people to be quiet!

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    If you read my question thoroughly, I am also worried about generating hatred between Jews, so I'm not so sure this would be the best idea. Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 12:13
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    @AdamMosheh Your enumerated options do seem to leave out trying to overtly influence the congregation you're in, which needn't necessarily be done in a manner that generates hatred (or certainly no more necessarily than breaking away would).
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 14:19
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    Welcome to the site Jack, I hope to see you around! Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 15:03
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    JackTheWack, I second HachamGabriel's welcome, and am writing merely to add (a) that answers with detail and sources and/or reasoning generally are much more helpful than those that merely make an assertion or provide an idea and that (b) that you should register your account in order to gain access to more of the site's features.
    – msh210
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 15:54

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