SUMMER VACATION SERIES
Edited by Aryeh Werth
Is it proper to go on vacation to a place with no minyan? What about a
children’s day trip where there will be no minyan?
For many people the concept of a vacation is time away from the usual routine. Now if the destination includes a local synagogue with minyanim that is great. However, what if the particular locale has no synagogue, but is a tourist destination with great
sightseeing, should one not go?
The Talmud (Berachot 31a) relates the following. The custom of Rabbi Akiva was when he prayed with the congregation, he used to cut it short and finish in order to not cause inconvenience to the congregation [who would wait for him to conclude his Amidah before they would begin the chazarat hashatz.] But when he prayed alone: If one left him in one corner he would later find him in the opposite corner on account of his many bowings and prostrations.
Now true, it’s beyond our imagination to comprehend the power of Rabbi Akiva’s tefillah to pierce the heavens as compared to ours, even when we are part of a congregation. Notwithstanding, we see that at times he did not pray with a minyan.
The Jerusalem Talmud (end of Tractate Kiddushin) teaches: “In the future time [when all will be judged] a person will be called to give an account for all that his eyes saw [that was permissible] and he did not partake thereof. In that regard I heard from Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, that one is duty bound to see the wonders of Hashem in everything that he encounters. Additionally, for us to forbid people who work hard the pleasure of rest and change of scenery is in and of itself forbidding. And if one asks, should travel on an airplane be forbidden, the answer of most gedolim is surely not.
Insofar a children’s day trip, if it is being sponsored by a Jewish day camp or the such, I am positive there are usually sufficient staff available for a minyan. There is enough guilt in our community, let’s not turn a vacation into a guilt-trip.
– 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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The ideal is to vacation in places where one’s spiritual level can be maintained. Almost every city in the world worth visiting has a shul with daily minyanim. Think of the effect on children when, in a foreign country or strange city, they join with other Jews, daven, and see before their eyes the wide reach of Torah and the great variety of Jews. For children, it will enrich the bond of Jewish nationhood in a way that no lecture or speech ever can. I remember visiting France as a child and feeling out of sorts in shul until they started singing “Vayehi binso’a ha’aron” in the same melody we sang at home. I felt an immediate connection to my fellow Jews. (I learned some French as well when the rabbi asked the congregation, in French, to stop talking.)
That being said, there are places that some people consider worth visiting where minyanim are not readily available. That engenders a discussion of the precise obligation of tefillah b’tzibur. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 90:9) uses the term “yishtadeil” – one should try to daven in shul with the community. That means it is not an absolute obligation, and certainly where there is no shul in the vicinity. It also means that it is improper to daven at home with a small minyan when there is a minyan in shul, something that people often take for granted today.
Nevertheless, Chazal extolled the virtues and reward of those who daven in shul every day, and it should not be lightly ignored. If one is in a place without a minyan, the Mechaber says that he should try to daven at the same time the community elsewhere is davening, so at least then his tefillah is somehow linked to the community’s tefillah.
So, it is proper, and it is even more proper and beneficial to seek out minyanim on the road so our spiritual level and love of our fellow Jews are enhanced.
– 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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Of course, it is desirable to daven with a minyan. Unfortunately, there are times, not only when one is on vacation but also in business or on an airplane that one finds oneself in situations that a minyan cannot be secured. In that case you just daven b’yichidut.
However, if one has an obligation to say Kaddish, every effort should be made to be sure that one has a minyan wherever they travel.
– Rabbi Mordechai Weiss lives in Efrat Israel and previously served as an elementary and high school principal in New Jersey and Connecticut. He was also the founder and rav of Young Israel of Margate, New Jersey. His email is email@example.com.