[Avodah] Should One Go To Shul Today?

Akiva Miller akivagmiller at gmail.com
Thu Jan 11 08:57:44 PST 2018


R' Mordechai Cohen wrote:

> I don't know of any obligation to doven maariv b'tzibur.
> The obligation of b'tzibur only applies to tefilot that were
> 'obligatory' ie incl chazaras hashas.
> Shacharis, musaf, mincha

This was news to me. I was not able to find this elsewhere. If anyone
knows of any sources for this, please share.

But I did find something relevant:

Mechaber 90:16 says that in order to daven with a minyan, a traveler
must go 4 mil farther than his planned stopover, or even backwards,
but need not go more than 1 mil backwards. Mishne Brura 90:50 explains
that the "4 mil forwards" rule applies only if he was planning to go
in that direction anyway, and that a diversion off to the side need
not be more than 1 mil. In my opinion, this teaches that in these
halachos, the word "l'acharav" (which is often translated as
"backwards" or "in reverse") might be best translated as "out of his

Mishna Brura 90:52 says:

"See the previous seif katan, and someone sitting at home has the
halacha of going out of his way. Therefore, one who lives in a
settlement, within a mil of where they pray with ten, he has to go
there every day in the morning to pray with ten. But not in the
evening, because one does not have to go on the road at night for the
sake of minyan. And this se'if is an open rebuke to those men who are
in the city and are too lazy to go to shul to daven mincha/maariv."

Why does the MB make an exception for "the evening, because one does
not have to go on the road at night for the sake of minyan"? It seems
clear to me (especially in light of the proximity of this halacha to
Mechaber 90:15) that this is simply because of the dangers of going
outside at night. Hence it has nothing at all to do with "tefilot that
were 'obligatory'", and the word "erev/evening" was well chosen,
because the exemption is not only for maariv: it is also for mincha,
if it would force one to be outside in the dark.

The first few times that I read this MB, I saw a contradiction: If
there's no obligation to go out in the dark, even when shul is closer
than a mil, then who is he complaining about at the end? I can think
of two answers to that question: (1) It is dangerous to go out at
night in a "yishuv/settlement", but it is safe in a "eer/city". (2) If
you are genuinely afraid then you have a heter, but not if you're just

I would also note that the above is the MB. The Aruch Hashulchan 90:20
writes: "One who lives in a yishuv/settlement, within a mil of a place
where they pray with ten, is obligated to go, every day, morning and
evening, to pray b'tzibur." The AhS seems to be stricter in two ways:
(1) I didn't notice any blanket exemptions for nighttime dangers. (2)
Where the MB says "tzarich/has to", the AhS uses the stronger

Akiva Miller

More information about the Avodah mailing list