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Edited by Aryeh Werth

Is it proper to check your personal and/or business email before Shacharis?




The Mechaber (Orach Chayyim 89:2, citing Berachos 14a) rules: “When the time for the Shacharis prayer has come it is prohibited for one to enter his fellow’s door and greet him with ‘Shalom,’ because [one of] the name[s] of Hashem is Shalom, however he may say to him (citing Sefer Chasidim, siman 8) Tzafra d’marei tav [in Aramaic] – A good morning to my [dear] sir.”

Thus, we see that once the time of the morning tefillah comes we are to limit our engagement and greetings with others because the purpose of bestowing Shalom on others is to do so with Hashem’s blessing. We must first pray to Hashem then we are allowed to bless in His name.

On the other hand, how limited must our activities be before we pray the Shacharis tefilla? It would seem that we are very limited to a short mundane greeting.

However, if one has a regular shiur before davening, surely one will be able to do so or even deliver the shiur. Why? Because learning Torah is also avodas ha’kodesh – sanctified service before Hashem.

Therefore, checking one’s email beforehand would seem to be prohibited – unless reading the email would be beneficial to a pending business matter crucial to his livelihood or that of his employees, or to an important health matter related to him or another person.

In general one has to use common sense when it comes to these situations where a clash between the sanctified and the mundane seem to occur. Using our technology wisely is not to be viewed as wrong. Saving a life or even putting food on the table is not only an important matter but when done the right way it benefits the munificence of Hashem’s blessings – both to him and his fellow.

– 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.

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Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

It is high time we admitted that people who check their emails when they lay down and when they wake up (as if it’s Kriat Sh’ma), and obsessively in the middle of the day and in the middle of the night, have an addiction problem. They cannot disconnect from the outside world, ignore the reality of life (including family) for the fantasy that something better is happening out there, and become slaves to their devices.

This is exacerbated during tefillah. For years, I waged a relentless battle against people bringing their smartphones to shul not only because of the distractions they cause to others when they ring but primarily because merely carrying them ruins the kavanah of their bearer. I was defeated in that battle by the Coronavirus, and now the norm has become for people to bring their phones into shul, daven from them and check their emails during Chazarat HaShatz. If that is the unfortunate choice, then people are better off checking their emails before they daven rather than during their davening.

But that is a choice that already concedes defeat. If we are proscribed from “tending to our [material] needs” before Shacharit (Orach Chaim 89:3) then checking emails would seem to be part of that proscription. Our first activity every morning should be the acknowledgment of our Creator rather than worshipping at the altar of spam and junk. Sure, some will argue that the emails might be conveying information about some impending emergency that can be ameliorated by quick action. Sure. That happens all the time…

Since email is addictive, there is a greater likelihood that we will become so consumed by its contents that we will be late for shul and distracted once we get there. That seems a bit more likely than missing out on the news that a meteorite is aiming right for us.

Daven first.

– Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is Israel Region Vice-President for the Coalition for Jewish Values and author of Repentance for Life now available from Kodesh Press.

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Rabbi Yehoshua Heber

We are maa’minim bnei ma’aminim in the power of tefillah. When one finds himself in a crisis or in desperate need of a yeshua, naturally a Jew turns toward his maker. HaKadosh Baruch Hu is not only the creator of the world and all that is within it, but He is also the overseer and controller, for this reason we beseech Him for our needs. This instinct is very much part of the DNA of the bnei Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.

What is not so internalized is the realization that our success in life daily depends on our performance while davening. When we are doing well and thriving, we must struggle to focus and give the proper respect and devotion to the word of the davening. This is certainly a challenge, and Chazal understood this well when they taught us that tefillah is “omed b’rumo shel olam, u’bnei adam mizalzalin ba,” despite its significant importance people do not give it its deserved respect. For this reason, they also taught that tefillah is one of the four areas that need constant attention and chizuk.

A Yid should strive for the level that when he wakes up in the morning he should not be interested in other pursuits or distractions, only to connect with his Maker. Until then we should at least try not to fill our minds with things that will divert our attention from where it should be.

Rabbi Yehoshua Heber is Rav of Khal Tomchai Torah at Yeshiva Torah Vodaath and Dayan at Bdatz Mishptai Yisrael.

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Is it proper? No it’s not proper. Do I do it? Yes, more often than I care to admit. It got a lot worse during Covid, when any semblance of work/life balance was disrupted and the home became the office. I wish I could offer advice on how to manage this. As soon as I figure it out, I will let you know.

Rabbi Elli Fischer is a translator, writer, and historian. He edits Rav Eliezer Melamed’s Peninei Halakha in English, co-founded HaMapah, a project to quantify and map rabbinic literature, and is a founding editor of Lehrhaus. Follow him @adderabbi on Twitter or listen to his podcast, “Down the Rabbi Hole.”


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