Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Is it proper to plan a vacation in a
location that doesn’t have a daily minyan?

 

Rabbi Yosef Blau
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Generally, I oppose going on vacation to a location where there is no daily minyan. My primary concern, though, goes beyond the loss of praying with a minyan. When a person is away from his religious environment, there is a tendency for him to reduce his level of observance. Unfortunately, many are not strong enough to maintain religious standards when surrounded by others who see their behavior as bizarre.

I used the word “generally,” though, since some live high-pressured lives and need to escape for a short time to an isolated spot to reduce the pressure and regain their equilibrium.

— Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani at
YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary

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Rabbi Marc D. Angel

Here are a few things a man must consider when planning a vacation:

Will there be a daily minyan – preferably according to my minhag – in the vacation destination?

Will my wife and children be happy vacationing there? Does my wife have a different preference?

Even if the locale has a daily minyan, is it really a place where I want to spend my vacation? Is it beautiful? Does it provide proper facilities for rest and recreation?

What if my family and I enjoy camping? What if we wish to travel to National Parks or other scenic destinations where we can’t be sure of finding a daily minyan? May we travel to various countries where we will surely learn a lot about other cultures and see world famous landmarks, but where no daily minyan may be available?

Each person must make a personal decision. One must weigh the pluses and minuses of each option and then make plans that will be appropriate for oneself and one’s family. Whatever decision is reached, please enjoy your vacation – and remember to pray with kavanah and gratitude.

— Rabbi Marc D. Angel, director of the
Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals

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Rabbi Zev Leff

Davening with a minyan is very important; every community is required to establish a minyan and can even fine residents for its upkeep. An individual must travel up to 18 minutes outside his city to daven with a minyan. According to some opinions, he must travel to any location, regardless of distance, inside his city.

If one is traveling and a minyan is within 72 minutes of the direction he is traveling in, he must travel that distance rather than daven alone.

Davening with a minyan is very important because Hashem receives tefillos said in a minyan with extra favor. One also fulfills the mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem by answering Kaddish and Kedushah.

According to some, davening with a minyan is not obligatory, but rather a very strong imperative. Others maintain that it is an actual rabbinic obligation.

A person, therefore, should not travel to a place where he won’t be able to daven with a minyan. However, if he is traveling for business and will incur a loss of parnassah if he doesn’t make the trip or he is traveling for health purposes – which includes needed rest and relaxation away from the strains and pressures of society – not davening with a minyan is permissible according to some.

I personally know very prominent roshei yeshivah and rabbanim who vacationed in isolated areas for this very reason (see Yad Eliyahu 6; Divrei Malkiel, vol. 5, 109; Shevet Halevi, vol. 6, 26, Teshvos Vehanagos, vol. 3, 63; and Tefilla Kehilchasa, ch. 8 par. 9, note 23 in the name of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach). In such cases, it is best to leave for the vacation after one has davened and before one is obligated to daven the next tefillah (e.g., after Shacharis before Minchah time).

However, to travel to a place without a minyan for pleasure purposes only is not proper.

— Rabbi Zev Leff, rav of Moshav Matisyahu,
popular lecturer and educator

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Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet

Vacationing is very important. It provides a chance to replenish and offers families the opportunity to spend quality time together. What it is never supposed to do, though, is deplete one’s spiritual stature. A vacation from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind should never amount to a vacation from Yiddishkeit.

That said, does one need to vacation only where there is a minyan? Many halachic authorities maintain that doing so is not paramount. If I am in a locale where there is a minyan, though, I am duty-bound to attend it.

The important balance here is to appreciate, on the one hand, the very real need for some timeout, while at the same time be conscious of the fact that this respite is intended to rejuvenate mind, body, and soul. The body needs rest, and the soul needs constant nurturing.

Even in the absence of a minyan, there shouldn’t be any compromise of the basics. Davening thrice daily and regular Torah study remain essential.

— Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, popular Lubavitch
lecturer, rabbi of London’s Mill Hill Synagogue

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