Mr. and Mrs. Schwartz have a child below the age of chinuch named Yaakov. Mrs. Schwartz was up late Monday. She tells her husband that she's very tired and would like to know if he can watch Yaakov while she takes a half-hour nap in the afternoon. Mr. Schwartz agrees to watch Yaakov while she takes a nap.

Unbeknownst to Mr. Schwartz, he didn't realize that the time when his wife was going to take a nap, was at Mincha time. Mincha is about to start in five minutes. His wife is already asleep in and he doesn't want to cause Shalom Bayis problems.

Mr. Schwartz is a Jew that abides by halachah. He knows that the Birkei Yosef says “It’s prohibited [for a father] to sit his young child in front of him during tefillah [davening].” (Mishnah Berurah 96:4) Because during tefillah, “A person should remove all thoughts which disturb him.” If a one’s child is running around or making noise during davening (especially shemonah esrei), not only can’t he daven properly, but neither can anyone else. [Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, Hilchos Tefillos 98] On the other hand, he also knows that davening with a minyan is very important.

  1. Should Mr. Schwartz bring his child to shul, if he knows that his child will be a disturbance to other people or daven at home? (i.e. b'yichidus - by himself)

  2. Does בין אדם לחבירו take priority over בין אדם למקום? i.e. letting his wife sleep and taking his child to shul or not disturbing people who trying to converse with Hashem and davening at home.

  3. Is there any halachic source that deals with this situation?

  • 1
    Isn't he patur from davening because he has to watch the kids (this was the Chafetz Chayim's position IIUC)? Has Mrs. Schwartz davened Mincha yet?
    – Double AA
    Aug 14 '14 at 18:00
  • possible dupe? judaism.stackexchange.com/q/41203/759
    – Double AA
    Aug 14 '14 at 18:02
  • 1
    Double AA, Mr. Schwartz hasn't davened Mincha yet. However, Double AA, where in halachah does it say that one is patur from davening because he has to watch his children? Aug 14 '14 at 18:07
  • I figured as much. I asked about Mrs. Schwartz.
    – Double AA
    Aug 14 '14 at 18:08
  • 1
    Will there be time for her/him to daven Mincha alone after she wakes up, or is the end of the Zman near?
    – Double AA
    Aug 14 '14 at 18:51

“Mr. Schwartz is a Jew that abides by halachah” and in this scenario wishes, (my first suggestion), to fulfill a derivative part of the mitzva of helping (load and unload) as explained at Torah.org.

The Sefer HaChinuch says that we learn from this mitzvah to have compassion on others and try to help those who are suffering. When we have mercy on others, Hashem will have mercy on us.

So (second suggestion) this mitzva of helping his wife will be a derivative of a Torah mitzva.

On the other hand, davenning with a minyan is a rabbinic mitzva see note 23 here.

This is one reason for him not to wake his wife.

Further, he is already involved in the mitzvah of helping his wife and will come in to the category of someone who is busy with a mitzvah who is free from doing another mitzvah. There is an extensive discussion of the parameters here from Rav Leventhal and (third suggestion) this fits the category.

Lastly, by waking his wife, he would be “stealing her sleep”. Yeshiva.org.il records that this is called theft by R' Chaim Brisker and certainly transgresses the mitzvah of loving your neighbour as yourself.


he should not take his child to shul to disturb others

and we do not have to decide the case of whether בין אדם לחבירו takes priority over  בין אדם למקום to find that he should not wake his wife.

  • 1
    Does he have to pray at all?
    – Double AA
    Aug 17 '14 at 13:51
  • @DoubleAA Even better; does he need to do a "double maariv" (i.e. tashlumim)?
    – Jake
    Aug 20 '14 at 8:54
  • @Jake That's the easy part of the question. See Shakh and Taz to YD 341. The question is does the petur apply to begin with?
    – Double AA
    Aug 20 '14 at 13:51
  • @Avrohom Yitzchok I recall a comment from R' Herschel Schachter, though Iknow I won't easily find it, that all known examples of oseik b'mitzva patur min hamitzva only occur where a bein adam l'chaveiro exempts from another or a bein adam l'makom exempts from another. On that basis, he suggested that they don't cross over (ie bein adam l'makom doesn't exempt from bein adam l'chaveiro or vice versa). Dec 11 '16 at 17:52

I believe that shlomo zalman Auerbach paskens that on an airplane one should not daven with a minyan, as it is preferable to daven alone then bother other people on the plane. It would seem to follow, that a person with a child who will be a bother to others in a minyan should rather daven alone. Additionaly it seems clear that this is haosek bmitzvah Patur min hamitzvah. During Yom Kippur I asked Rav Kaganof (a respected posek in Jerusalem) wether it was preferable to daven with a minyan or help my wife who had trouble fasting, he said to stay at home.

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