Shabbat Parashat Pinchas| 5763
Ask the Rabbi
Question: I am a waiter in a catering hall, and I am often unable to daven Mincha or Maariv before or after work, respectively. Should I take off from my
job to go to a local minyan. I am not sure if I will get docked pay for going or if I will lose my job if I am caught or demand to go?
Answer: Several important questions revolve around conflicting responsibilities to our fellow man vs. to our Maker. There is no one all-inclusive answer to the issue, but there are sources on a variety of cases.
Tefilla b’tzibur (davening with a minyan) is very important (see Berachot 8a). Although there are indications that it is just a way to fulfill the mitzva of tefilla more fully (b’hidur), Rav Moshe Feinstein z.t.l. understood it as an independent obligation (Igrot Moshe, Orach Chayim II, 27). In any case, some parameters of the necessary sacrifice to make it to minyan are mentioned in the poskim.
One must travel up to 18 minutes in order to attend a minyan (Shulchan Aruch, OC 90:16; Mishna Berura, ad loc.:52). If going to a minyan will cost one money (apparently, beyond small expenses like a few ounces of gas), he is not required to go. However, if it is just that he can gain money by missing minyan, he should attend minyan (Mishna Berura 90:29). If one has a set job, from which salary will be withheld for leaving for minyan, this is considered a monetary loss and is not required. However, a ben Torah who is in a good financial situation should consider whether making it to a minyan doesn’t justify a small reduction in pay. Whenever one takes a job, he factors in “quality of life” considerations, besides salary. Among personal and religious factors, unique to shomrei mitzvot and b’nei Torah, should be the matter of tefilla b’tzibur.
When one has responsibilities at work, he is required by halacha to take them very seriously. Berachot 16a poignantly illustrates how Chazal were prepared to lower certain religious obligations (of positive mitzvot) to avoid infringing upon the careful fulfillment of his responsibilities to his employer. Thus, sneaking out is not a halachic option. That same gemara mentions that if the employer is not bothered by the employee’s normal fulfillment of tefillot and berachot, then he should daven and bentch normally.
Therefore, you should bring up the matter politely with your boss (without risking your job) and see whether something can be worked out (e.g. you can offer to come in early). You can also investigate whether you can find an early or late minyan, respectively, (certainly, if within an 18 minute radius) to obviate the problem.
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