Isaac Kaplan

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Chazoras HaShatz Charades

I don’t like when people talk during chazoras hashatz. To me, that is. If they want to talk amongst themselves, whatever. I know the shulchan aruch says that one who talks during chazoras hashatz has “a sin too great to bear,” as Cain said after slaying Abel. Why do some people talk? Maybe they don’t care. Maybe they have a hetter somehow. A different minhag? Who knows? Whatever it is, I’ve been freaked out by the words of the Shulchan Aruch. So I do my best to keep my mouth shut during chazoras hashatz.

What I can’t stand is when people start talking to me during chazoras hashatz, see that I’m not answering, but keep yapping away. Hey, I choose not to talk during chazoras hashatz, is that okay with you?

And then, of course, I feel bad blowing the guy off, so that’s when the chazoras hashatz charades begin. I have to try to take part in the conversation without saying anything. And I have to do so in a way that’s somewhat comprehensible to the other guy. And that, of course, never works.

Far too often, I’ll mouth my answer. Maybe I’ll accompany that with some sort of hand motion, in an effort to make things clearer. To which the guy will say, “what?” So I try to enunciate my motions some more, in the hope that he’ll get what I’m trying to say. And of course the guy still doesn’t get it. So then I go all out in trying to motion what I have to say. At this point, of course, half the shul is staring at me trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing. So I simply give a wave as if to say “later,” and slink away, blushing.

(When I was very young, the chazoras hashatz charades would bring to mind those old Sergio Aragones cartoons in Mad magazine. You know, the ones where the characters never say anything? I always felt like the guys in those comics, struggling to express themselves without saying anything. In his later years, Aragones would sometimes have a character with a “thought bubble” on top. That’s when I knew the guy was losing it.)

Heck, only in Brooklyn do you lose more potential shidduchim by NOT talking during chazoras hashatz than you would by talking.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try making a little sign or business card that you can hand to anyone who comes up to you during Chazaras Hashatz. It could be something like this:

Isaac Kaplan, God fearing Jew.
I don't talk during Chazaras Hashatz.

If you do, you will burn for eternity.

Or some other text. Whatever you like.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was in yeshiva in Israel, my chavrusa had a card like that that he pulled out anytime I brought something up that was off the subject. Great idea!

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Steve Cohen said...

I agree. Unfortunately, attitudes relating to chazaras hashatz have become so poor that people can't imagine why you wouldn't respond to them.

9:48 PM  

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