Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Mi SheBairach Madness

At so many shuls in my neighborhood, the Shabbos morning davening drags on and on. As a result, I've yet to find anyone who truly enjoys your typical Agudah Shabbos morning davening. The notable exception to this being women. So many girls out there find davening to be "beautiful." But then again, if I was able to wake up at 10:30 and show up by Mussaf, I guess I'd feel the same way.

The Yisroel Williger wannabe davening schacharis for the ammud and the "fafrumt-medakdek" baal korei aside, I think a reason for the unmanagable length is the long Mi SheBairachs that are said for every guy who gets an aliyah, in which he thanks every member of his extended family and every guy sitting within 4 rows of him. In some shuls I've been to, the Mi SheBairachs take longer than the actual laining!

The problem with Mi Shaibarachs is that they're clearly a tircha d'tzibura. They're nice, but certainly not necessary. Why should an entire tzibbur wait for one guy to bless his entire family? In Yekum Purkan, we bless the entire congregation. Why isn't that good enough?

And I'm sure some will counter that by the cholim, we make sure to enunciate every name instead of simply wishing "the cholim" in general a quick recovery. But I think it's fair to say that the cholim need the Mi SheBairachs much more than the rich healthy guy who just got an aliyah! (Not to mention the soldiers whose lives are in grear danger who get NO recognition in many shuls, but that's for another time.)

In fact, many shuls have curtailed the Cholim's Mi SheBairach (by having everyone mention the names individually) because it takes too long. So why not curtail the other Mi SheBairachs too? I would think they're more expendable, if anything.

And granted, part of the reason the cholim's prayer is shortened is to avoid talking during this important prayer. But the other mi shebairachs also cause plenty of talking. Some people hold it's assur to talk between aliyos. In that case, I find it very difficult to justify these lengthy mi shebairachs, as they can cause many of the congrengants to sin. And even if it's muttar, is it kavod ha'torah to have so many conversations going on with the Torah out. And it's all too prevalent that people will get invloved in a heated discussion and continue shmoozing even as laining begins, something that's clearly assur.

So what's the point of these Mi SheBairachs? To encourage people to give money to the shul? I can think of many other ways to encourage people to give money to shul, all not at the expense of the tzibbur and kavod haTorah. And if people are demanding of these Mi SheBairachs, they should think (or at least be told), are they really more important than the tzibur? Or the kavod haTorah? This brings to mind Barry's article about the rich people getting treated like royalty.

And to expect people to sit quietly through lengthy Mi SheBairachs in our ADD-addled generation is simply unrealistic. As mentioned above, the ever-increasing tendency to talk has caused us to shorten the cholim mi shebairach. Nobody said "let everyone be quiet while all the names are mentioned." So why should these less urgent mi shebairachs be treated any different?

By curtailing these Mi Shebairachs and helping to restore much-needed dignity and respect to our shuls, hopefully many more of us will be able to stand and be counted as part of a most honorable Mi SheBairach--- the Tosfos Yom Tov's blessing for those who are quiet during davening!

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