In Defense of the Latecomers

I walked into the Neitz minyan this morning, about 10 minutes before the 5:45am Brochos start time, and the seating Gabbai gave me a thumbs up indicating I was one of the first ten. I was surprised because I’ll often get a good-hearted “tsk tsk you’re late” finger wave if I get there only 10 minutes before the start. It’s one of the things I love about this minyan and it certainly re-calibrates the definition of coming late.

On a past Shabbos, I was involved in a discussion with a friend about coming late. We’ve established two times which have merited lamination on the chazzan’s shtender, 8:37am for the first Kaddish and 8:55am for Borechu. I sometimes find myself in the role of defending the sanctity of those times but my friend had a different take:

“If people don’t want to miss the first Kaddish – they should get here by the 8:30am start time”. – he argued.

“It’s not so easy for people to get here at the start” – I replied.

“If the saying or responding to Kaddish is so important to them, they can get here early” – he retorted.

We went back and forth and I finally put forth this point – “I want to give my teenager the max time to sleep, and I can say brochos at home, but I want to be at the minyan to reply to Kaddish, so that’s why the 8:37 time is sacrosanct to me.”

His silence indicated that he was at least considering this point.

The on-timers vs latecomers also comes up regarding seating:
“If people want their seats, they should come on time”
or “Let’s try to accommodate latecomers by saving their seats – if possible”.

I hear both sides of the argument, but at this point I try to accommodate the latecomers, both for the chesed mileage points earned and because they are the majority.

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