Someone told me that he stopped davening in a certain shul because he saw members driving to shul on shabbos (the shul doesn't close their parking lot on shabbos.)

Is there a makkor in halacha not to daven in a shul that some members are mechalel shabbos befarhesya (desecrating the Sabbath in public) (even though they might have the geder of being a "tinok shenishba" (a child that was lost among the nations ie. brought up in a non-religious house))?

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    Is there a minyan without them?
    – Double AA
    Jun 5, 2015 at 5:00
  • lets say yes there is a minyan without him Jun 5, 2015 at 5:21
  • @DoubleAA I heard a certain posek say that "it isn't k'dai" (if I recall his terminology) for Reuven to help make a minyan if Shimon (one of the only ten attendees) will specifically drive to join that minyan as a result. (There were some complicating factors in the specific case the posek was addressing, but it seemed to me that he would likely agree that it's a general rule. I can imagine various halachic arguments to potentially technically get around prohibitions like lifnei 'iver and mitzva haba'a ba'aveira, so maybe that's why he didn't expressly say it's forbidden).
    – Fred
    Jun 5, 2015 at 5:31
  • @Fred The OP's question wasn't only about Shabbat services... Also that sounds similar to considerations here: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/15666/759
    – Double AA
    Jun 5, 2015 at 5:54
  • @DoubleAA Yes, I was thinking that, too. But I imagine that even the lenient positions would at least frown on having a minyan that only takes place because someone drives there, essentially building the minyan on the back of chillul Shabbos. יצא שכרו בהפסידו, I think.
    – Fred
    Jun 5, 2015 at 6:20

5 Answers 5


I'll try to explain the permissibility of including any Jew as part of the minyan at all times, summarizing answers I got on this discussion from 3 notable Orthodox rabbis.

Rabbi #1 had a small shul and on Shabbat many of them drove. A number of the walkers asked him why he allows this. He answered that he does not explicitly tell them to drive to shul on Shabbat. But, if he excluded them, inevitably, they would drive to the Reform shul in the next neighborhood. There, they would be less likely to be exposed to Shomrei Shabbat & Shomrei Mitzvot people. Thus, in a sense, the rabbi was concerned about kiruv. He felt that by encouraging them to come to his shul, when they see the beauty of the shul and Shabbat, hopefully, on their own, they would become Shomer Shabbat - of course with some assistance from him.

The other two rabbis concurred with his viewpoint, as they had similar problems in their own shuls.

In Rabbi #1's case, because he was in a small community, he stated that if the drivers didn't come on Shabbat, there would be no minyan at all, at in a sense, that would penalize him as well as the other walkers / Shomrei Shabbat people who attend shul. And, then, what would be the point of having his shul in the first place if no one came? I.e. - a firm "No" would have repercussions as he feared that to find SOME minyan on Shabbat, the Shomrei Shabbat people would daven in the Conservative or Reform shul. So, should his shul always remain empty on Shabbat while the other shuls "pick up the slack"?

The other 2 rabbis agreed with the 1st rabbi's view. As for the rest of the week, ALL 3 shuls have had a problem with getting a minyan, even now. All 3 rabbis are happy when any Jew davens with a minyan. He cared enough to daven and he helped others daven with a minyan, esp. those who have to say Kaddish. For many of them saying Kaddish, alone is what makes them attend a minyan in the first place! All 3 rabbis have stated that in the majority of cases, when those that said Kaddish were not Shomer Shabbat, it was directly because of their 11-month experience of attending the minyan daily that many of them became Shomer Shabbat - something that almost certainly would NOT have happened on its own had the rabbi excluded them from the minyan.

And, one rabbi pointed out that while Gentiles are not included in a minyan, they are invited to come to a shul and pray with us, if they wish. So, we should welcome a Gentile, but exclude a non-Shomer Shabbat Jew? (By excluding, he didn't mean that he would expel him from the shul. But he meant that they would exclude themselves because we made them feel unwelcome.)

In brief, I have no direct halachic proof from any of these rabbis. But, I think that their view of kiruv and their insight into solidifying an often weak community by finding some leniency is notable and encouraging.

If you'd like me to inquire further about any specific aspect, inform me as I am very much in contact with 2 of the 3 rabbis.

  • thats a nice feeling to include all jews (and the idea how it will help bring them to be shomer shabbos) but if it will be against halacha then its not the correct thing to do. so is there a halachic source backing up either side? Jun 7, 2015 at 2:37
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    @wonderingjew - I implicitly trust rabbinical decisions, esp. in this case. Some rabbis are "schmendricks". I personally know all 3 of them extremely well. So, when they make a decision such as this, I trust that they have researched halacha quite well. Furthermore, in this case 3 rabbis - all knowledgeable and trustworthy have concurred, and I made no mention to any one of what the other said, so there was no bias. While I understand your skeptcism, and that's fair, all I'm stating is that I feel that 3 opinions from 3 notable rabbis in their positions, I feel is very reliable.
    – DanF
    Jun 7, 2015 at 3:06
  • @wonderingjew As stated in my answer, if there is a very specific question that you want me to ask, let me know and I shall try to obtain the answer.
    – DanF
    Jun 7, 2015 at 3:07
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    honestly i agree with your rabbis answer but i want to know on what halachic source they based their answer on (where in halacha does it speak about this?) Jun 8, 2015 at 3:13
  • @wonderingjew B"N, I'll see what I can discover
    – DanF
    Jun 8, 2015 at 14:28

I learned from Rabbi Mizrachi that the halacha is you can't say amen to the kaddish of a mechalel shabbos, if you have a minyan with 9 shomer shabbos and 1 mechalel shabbos all the brachot you make with minyan are brachot in vain, and it's the halachic equivalent of having a non-Jew as a part of the minyah.

I asked a Chabad Rabbi, R. Itkin about this, and he said that he did quote the halacha correctly, but this does not apply to people who are considered children captive in war, and Rabbi Mizrachi agrees. So if you have an off the derech guy coming, he is not part of the minyah, but a baal teshuva who's still a beginner of teshuva or someone raised by the reform G-d forbid, his brachot can be said amen to. Furthermore he said that we're not allowed to assume if they drove for a life risk reason or not, I said, "they tell me they drive because they don't want to walk 10 minutes", and so he said "if they are in the davening and have thoughts of teshuva, then they are 100% now and you can say amen to the bracha. I later thought of asking if a mechalel shabbos signs a ketubah, we know this ketubah is worthless, but if he had thoughts of teshuva while signing no?

As for the semi-proof of not davening with an evil doer, yes a willing shabbos violator is considered an evil doer. If he doesn't understand what he's doing really, or was raised like a goy and now it's very hard for him, he is not an evil doer, he's considered dead in his life like one but from how I understood it, closer to lost in darkness than dead.


Anecdotally -- Baltimore's Beth Jacob Congregation broke off from Glen Avenue / Shearith Israel because the latter did not give honors to those who desecrated the Sabbath. (Beth Jacob wanted an Orthodox service that did not discriminate in any way against the not-necessarily-fully-Sabbath-observant.) Before that point, I read it was not uncommon for the shalosh seudos crowd at Shearith Israel to look out the window and see the wives of some members getting off the bus with shopping bags. Shearith Israel's rabbi at the time was R. Shimon Schwab zt"l, hardly a left-winger. It appears that they were perfectly content to allow the non-Sabbath-observant to be there, though. (I've heard different rumors whether they were counted for a minyan.)

Fun fact -- when Beth Jacob needed a rabbi, they found a young Semicha graduate who was doing his sociology doctorate, a single fellow by the name of Bernard Lander zt"l; the Schwabs had him over for shabbos meals on occasion.


There seem to be a few different issues here

(1)Davening in a shul where other people are Mechalal Shabbos .

That doesn't seem to be an issue. If it were a problem how could you daven at the Kosel? Even the most far right wing shuls don't discourage secular Jews from coming to say Kaddish or any type of davening in them.

(2) Counting such people for a minyan

That is more problematic .Particularly if the person is not a Tinok Shnisba. Most Poskim and shuls would not allow it but there are those who are lenient even about that see Shu"T Melamed Lhiol OC 28

(3)A Shul keeping it's parking lot open on Shabbos.

That is even more problematic. Probably the biggest break of the Conservative movement from authentic Judaism was when they announced that if people drive to shul on Shabbos they won't protest (they never explicitly allowed it) But some shuls allow it on the grounds of Kiruv. Unlike the Conservative movement they don't claim to ignore it. If asked point blank "may I drive to shul on Shabbos?' they would unequivocally say "no" In practice however they do ignore it under the belief that if someone who will be driving on Shabbos anyway is coming to our shul we will say and do nothing in the hope that coming to shul will cause them to stop. They base themselves on the (very few) Poskim who hold that you may invite someone to a Kiruv Seder or Shabbos meal even if you know the person will drive there as long as you don't tell them to.

  • Regarding keeping the parking lot open: not all lots have gates/poles/chains. Not choosing to construct barriers is not the same as choosing to have it open. You are just not taking active steps to stop people or encourage people. It seems like a open lot with no means of closing it keeps the issue from being forced to a policy decision.
    – Mike
    May 27, 2020 at 19:35

Yes a simple proof. We say in kol nidrai that we are matir to daven with evildoers that shows that the whole year we must't

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    Maybe the permission of Kol Nidrei lasts Ad Yom Kippurim HaBa
    – Double AA
    Jun 5, 2015 at 5:02
  • No that sounds ridiculous, sorry. If that would be the case why should permission be necessary @DoubleAA
    – cham
    Jun 5, 2015 at 5:06
  • Same reason you do Kol Nidrei every year.
    – Double AA
    Jun 5, 2015 at 5:13
  • who said evildoers means chilul shabbos? Jun 5, 2015 at 5:17
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    @cham Hilchos Mamrim 3:3 ואע"פ ששמע אח"כ [שהוא יהודי וראה היהודים ודתם הרי הוא כאנוס שהרי גדלוהו על טעותם] כך אלו שאמרנו האוחזים בדרכי אבותם הקראים שטעו
    – Yishai
    Jun 5, 2015 at 16:17

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