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Pondering A Kapandria
“It Should Not Be Used As A Shortcut”
(Megilla 29a)

As we learn in this week’s Daf Yomi, it is forbidden to use a shul for a shortcut. Rav Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg, zt”l, (Tzitz Eliezer 12:16) was once asked whether one may rent a room whose only entrance is through a shul. R’ Waldenberg noted a discrepancy between the Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 151:5) and the Rambam (Tefilla 11:8) which provides a key to answering this question.


The Shulchan Aruch writes: “If there are two entrances to a shul, one may not enter one door in order to leave through the other, to shorten his path.” Perhaps we can infer from this wording that it is forbidden only to shorten one’s path by passing through a shul. It is considered a disgrace to the shul. However, if the only available path is through the shul, then perhaps this is not considered a disgrace, since one has no other option.

However, the Rambam cites this halacha and adds the explanation, “Because it is forbidden to enter a shul, except to perform a mitzvah.” According to this reason, it would seem that one may not pass through the shul to enter the rented room, even if this is the only available path.


A Double Shul

The Tzitz Eliezer cites a similar question that once arose concerning two shuls in the Old City of Yerushalayim. The entrance to the Beis HaKnesses of the Rivaz was through the Beis HaKnesses of immigrants from Istanbul. The poskim were asked whether one may pass through the Istanbul shul as a shortcut to enter the Rivaz shul. Clearly, this is different from the case discussed above. Here, they did not enter the outer shul to reach a rented room, but to reach another shul. The Rambam writes that one may enter a shul to perform a mitzvah, and this is clearly a mitzvah.


A Kapitel Tehillim

Nevertheless, the Mishpatei Uziel (E.H. 2:61) recalls that whenever they would pass through the Istanbul shul to reach the Rivaz shul, they would pause to say Tehillim, in order not to disgrace the Istanbul shul by using it only as a shortcut.


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Rabbi Yaakov Klass is Rav of K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush; Torah Editor of The Jewish Press; and Presidium Chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim.