On Yom Kippur, I daven as fast as I possibly can--reading everything in my native language, and with far more speed than kavana--because I know I will have this problem. And yet I still have the problem, every year, without fail:

In the shul of 150-250 people, I am always the dead last person to finish Al Cheit. And I don't finish "almost" on time. I am usually still standing for a good two or three extra minutes after everyone else has been seated.

It's embarrassing, but I am willing to deal with that aspect. The main thing is that I don't understand why this happens. (I don't know for sure if it happens with other davening, because I don't daven in shul a lot. When I do, I still finish last, but I guess it is either less conspicuous or less of a problem than Yom Kippur.)

So, why does this happen to me with Al Cheit?

  • Does the English take longer?
  • Does everyone else have it memorized?
  • Does everyone else skip? (I assume the chazzan doesn't skip...)

Related: Keeping up with fast davening

  • 3
    Is this answerable by people who don't know you and your shul?
    – Isaac Moses
    May 10, 2016 at 11:01
  • 1
    I have the same problem and I do not feel any problem with read at normal speed when people are running. Tefila is not a reading exercice. each with his/her own religion
    – kouty
    May 10, 2016 at 11:05
  • 1
    I use the Linear Art Scroll for Al-Cheit and look at the English whilst reciting the Hebrew. The words "Al Cheit She-chatanu l'faneicha" appears in all of them (every second one with a prefixed 'v'). I already know the meaning of those words so really it is the sin itself that I look at the meaning of. As Yom Kippur is another few months off, perhaps study this section a bit now so you are more familiar with it.
    – CashCow
    May 10, 2016 at 12:16
  • 5
    I don't think anyone can answer why you are last. I'm also not sure why it matters -- it isn't like anyone is rushing off for kiddush...I daven slower than many people, even when I know the meaning of the words. Different people interact with text and focus differently so speed can't be explained consistently.
    – rosends
    May 10, 2016 at 13:29
  • 2
    Count the number of words in the Hebrew and English versions and you may have an approach to the answer. May 10, 2016 at 13:36

2 Answers 2


This is impossible to answer since we do not know where you daven or what kind of speed they daven at. My experience has been that in shuls that are "frummer" i.e. higher percentages of people who are serious about Torah and mitzvos, people take longer to daven, especially on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Where I daven the silent prayer on Rosh Hashana can take up to half an hour (it is longer than Yom Kippur). This is because people are concentrating on what they are saying. Although slow davenning usually equals more concentration, the converse is not necessarily true.

Since you have 5 months left until YK, I would also suggest you make an effort to familiarize yourself with the Hebrew.

I don't see any reason to worry about whether you take more or less time than anyone else אחד המרבה ואחד הממעיט ובלבד שיכוין לבו לשמים. It is the same whether someone takes a long time or a short time, and only [it is important] that he directs his heart toward Heaven [Babylonian Talmud, Brachos 5a].


Praying does not require speed - it requires Kavana - focus, concentration and meaning. I'm not sure why you should feel embarrassed in any way. Contrarily, if the majority finishes a long time before you, it could mean that they were speeding and had no or minimal kavanah. Besides, on Yom Kippur, you have an entire day to be in shul. Where are you and everyone else running to?

Re-read your "related" link. While many of the answers indicate that one should join the congregation when they start the Amidah, this is one of the few requirements where you should be "together". But, all the answers there imply that kavanah is the more important aspect.

Oh, if you need more support, in my shul when I was growing up, and in my current shul, the rabbi, himself, finishes way after the chazzan starts his repetition. The rabbi insists that the chazzan should not wait until he finishes. Halachically, BTW, this is fine. (See Shulchan Aruch among others that mention this.)

  • 'Praying does not require speed'-- my Mincha/Ma'ariv shul would tend to disagree. :)
    – user9907
    May 11, 2016 at 1:42
  • @ephraimhelfgot If you want to compare things, one guy in my shul davens so fast that he regularly skips some words. It tends to be in the same place. I've pointed it out to him, but whenever he is shat"z, it's the same thing. Bad habit, and not much that I can do about it.
    – DanF
    May 11, 2016 at 13:33

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