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Advice for the Slow Davenner


Rabbi Jonathan Blass

9 Tishrei 5764
I have been following advice from an ’Ask the Rabbi’ answer advising someone who finds the pace of davenning in a Minyan too fast to (a) start a few minutes early and (b) try to get to the start of the Amida at the same time as the Kehilla. OK, but now 2 kinds of questions emerge: 1) In the period leading up to the Amida, when I am ’ahead’ of the Shaliach Tzibbur, I often wonder what responses are permitted; eg, if I am on the Shma and the Sh’tz gets to 1/2 Kaddish & Borchu, what should I do? 2) During the Amida I begin to lag behind; I’ve learned that if I am still on the silent Amida but the Sh’tz gets to Kedusha I should (a) stop davenning and (b) remain silent & listen. However it happens on Shabbat that the Kedusha takes several minutes – are there parts of the Kedusha (eg when the congregation is singing) that I can continue davenning? Also, if one is disturbed by talking or other noise during the silent Amida, can one snap one’s fingers, bang on the table, turn around and glare, etc.?
1. If you are between chapters in Shma- for example after "Bishaarecha" and before "Vehaya Im Shamoa"- you can answer amen when you hear any blessing. In the middle of a chapter you can answer only "Amen Y'hei Shmey Raba... Olmayya" and Amen after "D'amrinan B'olma" when you hear the half Kaddish. You are allowed to answer "Barchu" (Ishei Yisrael 19 7). 2. You are required to remain silent and to concentrate on the Kedusha only for "Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh... M'lo Kol Haaretz Kvodo" and "Baruch Kevod Hashem Mimkomo"(Ishei Yisrael 32 16). 3. Although you are permitted to signal with hands or fingers that you would like silence (Ishei Yisrael 32 13-15) , from experience this generally doesn't work unless you are signalling your own children. It is better to develop a heightened power of concentration that will allow you to daven despite the noise (or find a quieter Minyan).
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