Is NuNu a Four Letter Word?

One of the most misunderstood utterances in Shuls is that of NuNu. It is often used by someone who feels that there is an unnecessary delay in the service. Even those of us who wouldn’t utter NuNu, may have had those thoughts running through our mind on some occasion.

On the benefit of the doubt side, the person saying NuNu thinks that there is a correction that needs to be made. It’s often during a part of the davening where he thinks that talking is not permitted, so he says NuNu instead to avoid a possible violation of halacha. Whether it is better or worse halachically, is beyond the scope of this post.

In some ways, NuNu-ing is very similar to the shusher discussed in the “Is Shushing Worse Then Talking in Shul” post. In both cases the person may be right, however the mode of expression is disruptive. I think the NuNu can be more offensive than the Shush.

Another problem is the reason is not always obvious to the target of the NuNu as illustrated by an incident that happened to me. I was davening from the Amud in a Neitz (sunrise) minyan and I had looked at the wrong day on the calendar so I had the wrong Neitz time. A friend who was helping me through the Neitz rookie stage, saw that I was on a pace that would exceed the acceptable Neitz margin of error, so he NuNu’ed me to try and correct the situation. Since I had the wrong time and thought I was on target I couldn’t decipher the meaning of his NuNu and I was late in the start of Shemoneh Esrai.

Chronic NuNu-ers should probably be approached by the Gabbai with the suggestion that the NuNu-er come to the Gabbai to point out problems and he would try to correct them.

In summary, the NuNu-er is very possibly coming from a good place, wanting to make things right, and we should try to view him in that light. On the other hand we should probably try to find other means to communicate if we feel there are corrections to be made.