Question: Many outdoor minyanim are currently taking place throughout the neighborhood and, as a result, men and women in nearby houses often hear the davening from the privacy of their homes, even when not davening together with the minyan. Must such a person stop what he or she is doing and answer K’dushah together with the outdoor minyan?

Short Answer: The poskim dispute whether the person in the house must answer. It is certainly preferable for the person to answer.



I. Background: Combining to a Minyan

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 55:18) writes that a group of ten men, part of them in shul and part of them in the azarah (ante-room), do not constitute a minyan.

The Mishnah B’rurah (57) adds that even where nine of the men are in the shul and only one man is in the azarah, they still do not combine for a minyan. However, the Mishnah B’rurah adds that the Pri M’gadim disagrees entirely, and as long as men in each room can see each other, they combine for a minyan.

Practically speaking, the Mishnah B’rurah concludes that in “makom d’chak” – extenuating circumstances – one can rely on the Pri M’gadim.

II. Even an Iron Curtain...

What about where there are ten men in one room and additional men in a second room? Are the men in the second room considered part of the minyan?

The Gemara in Sotah (38b) states in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi that even an iron curtain does not separate the B’nei Yisrael from Hashem. Tosafos (P’sachim 85b) interprets this statement as referring to a situation where a minyan gathers to daven in one place. Since there is a minyan, even a person in a different house may answer to K’dushah and other parts of davening from this minyan.

The Beis Yosef (Orach Chayim 55:20) cites the Yerushalmi who qualifies that a person in a house may only answer to a minyan taking place in an adjoining house or courtyard where there is no uncleanliness (such as garbage/foul smell) or an oveid kochavim (eino Yehudi) separating the person from the minyan.

The Shulchan Aruch (ibid) cites both opinions, but is clear that where there is no uncleanliness, the person in the house “may” answer to K’dushah from the minyan. [See generally the Minchas Eliezer (vol. 2, p. 60) whether these opinions are really arguing or whether the Yerushalmi is merely clarifying the first opinion].

Notably, the language of the Shulchan Aruch (and Mishnah B’rurah) is that the person in the house “may” answer. However, it is unclear from the Shulchan Aruch (or the Mishnah B’rurah) whether this allowance for the person in the house to answer to K’dushah is specifically permissive (“he may answer”) or even obligatory (“he must answer”).

III. Permissive

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (cited in Ishei Yisrael, 24:16:62) infers from the precise language of the Shulchan Aruch that the person in the house “may” answer, but is not obligated to answer. See also Chashukei Chemed (Rosh HaShanah, p. 196) who makes a similar inference from the language of the Shulchan Aruch.

The sefer D’var Meshulam (1:117) explains that the reason why the person in the house, who is in a different location as the minyan, does not need to answer is because he is not showing any disrespect for the davening and for Hashem by not answering since he is separate from the minyan.

Similarly, the Riv’vos Ephraim (1:89:1) cites Rav Elyashiv zt”l, who ruled that the person in the house does not need to answer to K’dushah. However, the Riv’vos Ephraim concludes, in the name of Rav Shlomo Blumenkrantz, that it is certainly preferable for the person to answer to K’dushah if he can. Interestingly, in a later t’shuvah (1:91:2), the Riv’vos Ephraim discusses if this same preference applies to reciting Modim D’Rabbanan, as well. He concludes that it does, and thus, while a person in his home would not be obligated to recite Modim D’Rabbanan when he hears Modim during Chazaras HaShatz, it is certainly preferable for him to answer.

Indeed, the Ishei Yisrael (ibid) notes that the language of the Levush sounds as if it is merely optional to answer, as he writes that an iron curtain does not separate anyone who “wants” to answer.

IV. Obligatory

On the other hand, Rav Chaim Kanievsky cites the Chazon Ish (cited in Ishei Yisrael, ibid) who disagrees. According to the Chazon Ish, the language of the Shulchan Aruch, that one “may” answer, is not proof that it is merely permissive. Rather, because he “may” answer, he is “obligated” to answer.

The Riv’vos Ephraim (ibid) cites others who agree with this view, as well. He cites a Rav Aharon Ponfill who brings proof from the Rama (Orach Chayim 125:2) that it is obligatory. The Rama writes that one who comes to shul after already having davened must still answer to K’dushah. Rav Ponfill notes that there is no difference whether this person comes to shul or merely hears K’dushah; in both cases he must answer.

V. Women

This author is unsure whether there is an additional leniency for women in the house. Because women are not obligated to join in a minyan, it is possible that there is no degradation to the minyan and Hashem by not answering.

Next Week’s Topic: Should minyanim during coronavirus only wait for six people to finish Sh’moneh Esrei before starting Chazaras HaShatz?

Rabbi Ephraim Glatt, Esq. is Assistant to the Rabbi at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills and a practicing litigation attorney. Questions? Comments? Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..