Menachem Mendel

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Requiring Tickets for Yamim Noraim

For some people the idea that a synagogue requires people to purchase tickets to attend services on the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe) is very problematic. “How can they require a Jew to pay in order to pray in a synagogue!” That Jews were sometimes forced to support the building and maintenance of a synagogue is quite old, going back at least to Tannaitic times (see Tosefta Baba Metzia 11:12). R. Meir of Rothenberg is even quoted as saying that if only ten people (he was referring to men) live in a town then everybody is forced to help complete the minyan and if somebody wants to go away for the Yamim Noraim then the community can force them to either stay or have them hire somebody else to attend the services in their place, “שכופין אותו או לישאר או להשכיר אחר במקומו.” This obligation to support, both financially and physically, services in the synagogue was also codified in the takkanot (enactments) of numerous Jewish communities (for an example see here). While every Jew should feel obligated to support their community synagogue, or at least the synagogue in which they would like to pray for the holidays, there are surely exceptional cases. If you don’t belong to a synagogue, cannot afford either membership or tickets, and an acceptable arrangement cannot be found with a synagogue, at least in NYC I know of a number of options that are either free or charge a nominal fee. Try here and here (Conservative), here and here (Orthodox). If anyone knows of Reform or Reconstructionist services that are either free or charge a nominal fee please post them in the comments.

Shannah Tovah

Sources:
Responsa of Meir b. Baruch (Prague), par. 1016; Mordechai, Baba Batra, chap. 1, par. 478 Teshuvot Pesakim uMinhagim of Maharam, ed. Kahane, vol. 1, p. 53, par. 24; Beit Yosef OH 55; ShAr OH 55:21. Salo Baron, The Jewish Community, vol. III, p. 142-3, n. 3; Also see this responsum by Walter Jacob.

One Response to “Requiring Tickets for Yamim Noraim”

  1. 1
    Menachem Mendel:

    Just to connect this post with your recent one on tikat shofar on shabbat. One of the issues that arose when R. Schlessinger wanted to blow on Shabbat was crowd control.If you only blow in one shul then there will be too many people. R. Schlessinger came up with the idea to give tickets out. This was rejected as such a program may be seen as the reason the rabbis permitted shofar on shabbat was to make money.
    Dan Rabinowitz | Homepage | 09.17.06 – 6:57 am | #

    Thanks for reminding me about the ticket and crowd issue. I am actually surprised that some of the more Temple-centric groups in Israel haven’t blown the shofar on Shabbat.
    Menachem Mendel | Homepage | 09.17.06 – 9:38 am | #

    I used to live right across the street from a Reform Temple. They only kept one day of RH and I recall wondering if it was good that they blow the shofar (as I assume they did) even on Shabbat because otherwise they would not hear it at all this year or not (moot point obviously). Maybe I should have gone across to hear the shofar? Of course this would get me involved in the famous R’ Akiva Eger on this matter among other questions.
    andy | 09.17.06 – 2:07 pm | #

    I don’t know why I wrote that it is famous, I just happen to have come across it; he writes that even though there is a gezeirah against blowing the shofar on shabbat but if you did you were mekayem the mitzvah de’orayta. The Chelkat Yoav asks on this from various places where we see that similar gezeirot do remove the mitzvah altogether.
    andy | 09.17.06 – 5:55 pm | #

    Andy,

    I was wondering what “famous” R. Akiba Eiger I was missing. Is it in a responsum or in his comments on the ShAr?
    Menachem Mendel | Homepage | 09.17.06 – 7:42 pm | #

    For a discussion of whether one in fact should do what Andy was suggesting, see Fruend’s Mo’adim l’Simcha (he has a couple of good things) where he discusses whether one should listen to one who is violating the rabbinic prohabition here.
    Dan Rabinowitz | Homepage | 09.17.06 – 8:41 pm | #

    RAE is in the Drush Vechidush ma’aracha 8 (I think). The Chelkat Yoav is in the Kava Dekashayta 99. R’ Zvi Pesach Frank also discusses this RAE in his Mikra’ei Kodesh when he asks if one should go hear R’ Shlesinger blow on Shabbat. I will look up Freund, does he really say that one should go hear someone if he is definitely violating the issur or only in a case of doubt like by R’ Shlesinger? I assume it’s the latter.
    andy | 09.18.06 – 7:20 pm | #

    After looking up Freund it seems that I assumed wrongly. I guess that it just seemed intuitively wrong to go hear an avaryan blow the shofar. There also is a potential problem of ain shliach lidvar aveirah, although it still wouldn’t hurt to go listen; either you would be mekayem the mitzvah or not.
    andy | 09.20.06 – 7:23 pm | #

    I should have also realized that every case nowadays is at least a sofek, based on what R’ Shlesinger says.
    andy | 09.20.06 – 7:25 pm | #

    Thanks for relating to this. I pushed a decision this year, at our Masorti congregation in Tel Aviv, to do away with reserved seating – we never really had tickets that you had to show in order to get in – and depite reservations by some of the veterans, it seemed to work just fine. Hopefully, people from the neighborhood felt more comfortable wandering in.
    The real test will come at Kol Nidre and Ne’ilah.
    g’mar hatimah tovah!
    David Lazar | Homepage | 09.25.06 – 10:48 am | #

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