Respecting the Sanctity of the Shul

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Speaking in Shul or Bet Midrash

  1. It’s utterly forbidden to act frivolously in a Shul or Bet Midrash in any way such as laughter, vane speech, or humor. [1]
  2. It’s forbidden to speak about non-holy matters in a shul or Bet Midrash including speech about business or an occupation. [2]
  3. Similarly, it’s forbidden to read or write secular subjects in a Shul or Bet Midrash. [3]
  4. It’s much worse of a transgression to speak forbidden speech such as Lashon Hara, Rechilut, or starting fights in a Shul or a Bet Midrash in the place where the Shechina dwells. [4]
  5. In a Bet Midrash, one shouldn’t say G-d Bless you or LaBriyut or Gezuntite when someone sneezes. Nowadays, some are lenient because many aren’t so caeful about not speaking mundane speech in a Bet Midrash and some are strict because it’ll cause people to speak mundane speech in the Bet Midrash. It seems everyone will agree that in middle of learning it’s forbidden to say it. [5]

Sleeping in Shul or Bet Midrash

  1. One may not sleep (even a temporary sleep) in a shul, but in a bais medrash it is permitted to take a temporary sleep. A talmid chacham may sleep in a shul or a beit midrash. [6]

Eating in Shul

  1. Although it is generally forbidden to eat in a shul, seuda shlishit may be eaten in a shul especially when words of Torah are spoken at the meal. [7]

Owning a Seat in Shul

  1. If a person sat in a particular seat in shul for three years straight even if he wasn't in on occasion or he changed his seat for avielut he can establish a right to that seat.[8]

Running to and from Shul

  1. When one is on one's way to Shul or going to do any mitzvah, it is a mitzvah to run even on Shabbat. [9]
  2. When one arrives at Shul one shouldn't run inside, but rather one should walk with awe and trepidation like one is walking before a king.[10]
  3. It is forbidden to run when one is leaving Shul. [11]

Mechitza

  1. During davening it is integral to have a mechitza to separate between men and women. However, there is no need for a mechitza to separate between men and women for non-mitzvot activities such as a mundane meal.[12]

Sources

  1. S”A 151:1
  2. Mishna Brurah 151:2
  3. Rav Nevinsal in BeYitzchak Yikra on Mishna Brurah 151:2
  4. Mishna Brurah 151:2
  5. S”A Y”D 246:17 writes that one may not say Refuah when someone sneezes based on the Gemara Brachot 53a. Levush Y”D 246:17 brings the halacha as in S”A. The Perisha Y”D 246:36 writes that perhaps nowadays we can be lenient considered that many aren’t strict about mundane speech in the Bet Midrash in general. The Shach Y”D 246:16 and Aruch HaShulchan Y”D 246:33 quote the Perisha as halacha. However, the Taz Y”D 246:6 argues that there’s no reason to be more lenient and it’ll cause people to speak mundane speech in the Bet Midrash. [Bear Hetiev Y”D 246:9 quotes the dispute the perisha first and the Taz second.] S”A HaRav (Hilchot Talmud Torah 4:11) and Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A Y”D 245-6 #33) agree with the Taz. S”A HaRav clarifies that it’s forbidden to answer Asuta even not at the time of learning as long as one’s in a Bet Midrash, and all the more so, when one is learning.
  6. Mishna Brurah 151:15-6
  7. Yechave Daat 3:10. Shulchan Aruch 151:4 permits eating a seudat mitzvah in a shul. Even the Mishna Brurah 151:20 agrees but cites the Magen Avraham who forbids a large meal with wine in a shul even for a mitzvah.
  8. Rashba (responsa 1:943), Rama CM 140:8. See also Meiri b"b 29a.
  9. Shulchan Aruch 90:12
  10. Magen Avraham 90:24, Mishna Brurah 90:41, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 12:11
  11. Shulchan Aruch 90:12
  12. Rav Moshe Feinstein in Igrot Moshe 1:41 cites the Pesachim 86b that speaks about a bride eating a korban pesach together with the rest of the group which would consist of several families and up to 50 or 100 people. He concludes that isn’t necessary to have a mechitza for non-mitzvah activities, such as a meal but excluding davening or learning. However, he has a doubt about wedding meals if they need a mechitza to separate between the men and women.