Slower Davening and Tircha De-Tzibura

After discussing some Shul situations with my Rav, I was marinating an article on Tircha De-Tzibura. I Googled the term to get the best transliteration, and lo and behold an excellent article was recently published named The Halachic Principles of Tircha De-Tzibura. Please go read it, I’ll wait till you come back.

Conceptually, Tircha De-Tzibura is any unnecessary delay in the service. The question than becomes what is an unnecessary delay. Let’s say that in a given Shul, Mincha usually takes between 10 and 13 minutes, and the person who wants to daven from the Amud will take 15 minutes. Should he forgo the Amud to prevent Tircha De-Tzibura. My Rav says that in this case you should not daven as you can see from the halacha that even small time delays are considered significant in this context. So the Nu, Nu choir does have a halachic leg to stand on.

One problem is that the time usually taken in a given Shul for Shacharis, Mincha and Maariv is not always so clearly defined and/or publicized. The best thing to do in those situations is to ask the Gabbai for his understanding of the time parameters, and if you can’t abide by them, then you should’t take the Amud.

Another situation. What if the you’re in the Shul where Mincha takes between 10 and 13 minutes and your capable of davening fast. Do you have an obligation to minimize the time or are you ok as long as you’re under 13 minutes? In this situation my Rav felt that there was no halachic obligation to minimize your time.

From one perspective davening is often a game of minutes, and if you want to avoid the delay of game flags you need to know how long the 30 second clock is set for and how long it takes you to daven from the Amud. If in doubt, it might be best to sit it out.

8 thoughts on “Slower Davening and Tircha De-Tzibura”

  1. What happens if a slower davener wants to be shaliach tzibur because he is a chiyuv? Should we refuse to let him daven for the amud, even though it’s his right?

  2. In Shul Politics situations it’s often a balance between the needs/wants/rights of a few versus the needs/wants/rights of the many.

    And of course there are many factors that go into the decision making process:
    – how much longer will he take
    – is this a one time occurrence
    – what type of minyan is it: working people’s shacharis or mincha, a Sunday maariv, etc..
    – what understanding do most of the participants of the minyan have in regard to the timing
    – how sensitive/insensitive is the person to the needs of the tzibbur
    – do they know the general halachos of Tircha De-Tzibura
    – is there a good Gabbai at the minyan

    My experience is that I have never seen anybody asked not to daven because of how slow they go.
    However I have seen situations where the Rav or the Gabbai talked to an Avel and suggested that they don’t daven from the Amud on a regular basis during their 11 months.

    And of course we all know situations where people fight for the right to daven from the Amud. Any good Rabbi will tell the person, if they would ask, that it is not a merit for the deceased to fight in that situation. But since it’s an emotional situation, regarding a loved one, people sometimes make the wrong choice. So too, many people will daven from the Amud, when the halacha says they shouldn’t.

  3. I would suggest that while in certain circumstances people have a halachik leg to stand on when they believe that public prayer is taking too long, nevertheless the “nu, nu” choir rarely if ever has a halachik (or derech eretz) leg to stand on in voicing this opinion in such a fashion.

  4. On Shabbos mornings, are long Mi Sheberachs (after an aliyah or for cholim) or long sermons considered a tircha? Some congregations try to limit these, not always succesfully, while others do not.

    1. Whether something is a tircha is determined by the accepted procedures of the Shul. How the Shul determines the accepted procedures depends on its structure.

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