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This occurred in my shul a few days ago:

A person came to shul and there were 8 people. He was asked to stay a few minutes as within 5 minutes, 2 more people would certainly come and there would be a minyan. The person was impatient and said that if they began later, he would miss his train to work, so he left. As a result, when the 2 people came, there were only 9 people in total, and this ruined things for the others that were already there. (An elderly person who got up early to say Kaddish was livid, as it was a huge effort for him to come to shul, and he did so specifically to say Kaddish.)

My question - halachically, is someone allowed to leave forming the minyan because he must get to work, and by doing so, cause others not to have a minyan at all?

In your answer, you may address not only the issue of forming miyan / tefillah betzibbur but, if relevant, the inconvenience caused to others (e.g. the elderly person as well as others who were there on time / early) to form the minyan. (E.g. perhaps a problem of harming someone's feelings; causing "loss" - that elderly person might have gone to another shul that had a minyan so that he could say Kaddish.) If it matters, I should mention that the person who left was a "regular" minyan attender, i.e., those that came on time expected him to appear and stay for the minyan.

  • Dan, I'm no expert on Halakha but can the answer lie in the 'fact' that the only prayer one may not interrupt is the Amidah? Unless the man made prior arrangements like some synagogues suggest when one has to recite Kaddish, I can see him being upset (as in disappointed) but there are a lot of buts here. Can someone say that the elderly man made it when he needed to say Kaddish, why couldn't HE come to help someone else another day? I don't know, you tell me, is it possible for someone to interrupt prayer to say a few words of Torah so the man could recite at least one Kaddish d'Rabbinum? – JJLL Aug 23 '16 at 23:05
  • I live near many shuls, but often go to a minyan that struggles. When it doesn't materialize, it helps me feel better to think that when we get exactly a minyan I have helped at least (depending how many women) 9 others to daven betzibbur who otherwise wouldn't have. When we get less, one person, myself, is missing out. If we get more it doesn't matter. So it makes sense to go to this minyan as long as we get a minyan ~10% of the time. I don't know if it will help this elderly man feel better, but helping to make a minyan so that people can answer to kaddish who otherwise wouldn't have... – Heshy Aug 24 '16 at 0:29
  • ...is in some sense better than just going to a minyan where you can say kaddish together with other people, even if sometimes it doesn't work out. – Heshy Aug 24 '16 at 0:31
  • If considering inconvenience, perhaps we should also factor in the two known latecomers. If they were there on time there also would have been a minyan. – Monica Cellio Aug 24 '16 at 2:42
  • @MonicaCellio Yes, that part is obvious. What I didn't mention is that in this situation, one of the two late-arrivers was unusually late. Things happen. The other late-comer was, alas, me :-( I have to break my own bad habit. – DanF Aug 24 '16 at 15:06
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There's a famous story of the Chazon Ish (will edit in the source), where he had nine men and the zman for Davening was about to end. A tenth man came by and said that he'd join the Minyan, but it would mean being late to work. The Chazon Ish told him to go to work, because you can't Daven on stolen time. There was no Minyan.

Similarly, in the case you discussed, if the man showed up late for work, he would have been stealing his employer's money, and thus would have been doing an Aveira. You can't ask someone to do an Aveira so that someone else can do a Mitzvah.

I hope that answers the question.

  • The last sentence makes a very strong point. When you can, please link the source. – DanF Aug 23 '16 at 21:54
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Bnei Bonim 2:4 says that he left after Chazoras Hashatz since he had to get his children off to school. He says the Tzibur is at fault as they started 30 minutes late.

It seems to me there is an issue of leaving - when there is exactly 10 already - and that breaks the Minyan - and even then for a serious loss it would be permitted. Leaving prior to ten people being there may get someone upset, but is Halachically sound.

  • Wow! I have to check this source later. See my latest edits. Do you think that B'nie Bonim has no issues with inconveniencing the others? – DanF Aug 23 '16 at 19:30
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    @DanF Of course he has issues with inconveniencing others! He's not a robot. What about inconveniencing the kids who will be late to school? Or the person at work whose shift one must take over? Or the person himself who might lose salary? Old people who want to say Kaddish don't have a monopoly on being offended. – Double AA Aug 23 '16 at 19:34
  • @DoubleAA Can't argue with your last sentence in particular. Though, some of them believe that saying Kaddish is the only thing they have to live for. (Sorry about the bad pun, but I think, considering that I'm saying Kaddish, I can be allowed the dry humor.) – DanF Aug 23 '16 at 19:49
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    @DanF We should then work on teaching them that other things have value, and many have even more value than Kaddish. Encouraging them in their misplaced belief isn't going to help them learn. – Double AA Aug 23 '16 at 19:55

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