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 Hilchos Tefilla 90 (page 245)
 מסעיף יג עד סעיף יט

Travelling for a Minyan
Are Torah Students Exempt from Davening?
The Reward of the 'First Ten'

Travelling for a minyan
Someone whose home is located more than a mil (an ancient measurement akin to a mile) from the nearest shul is exempt from tefilla b'tzibur. There is discussion amongst the poskim as to whether, in modern times with improved transportation, the mil exemption still applies to those who live more than a mil's distance from shul or whether it applies only to those whose travel time to shul exceeds the time it would take to walk a mil (about eighteen minutes). It is proper to be stringent and attend the minyan if one's travel time is less than eighteen minutes. In ancient times, someone who would have to travel the mil alone was exempt from joining the minyan for Ma'ariv. It is possible that this exemption no longer applies now that our streets are lit at night.
( סעיף טז-יז וס"ק נא-נב; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 55 ו־59; וראה שם, 58)
Are Torah students exempt from davening?
A person who is occupied exclusively with Torah and only attends to his essential personal needs is exempt from davening with a minyan if one is not available in the room in which he learns. He should not make a practice of excluding himself from the minyan, however; otherwise, people who do not qualify for this exemption might inappropriately begin to apply it to themselves. It is forbidden to [openly] study Torah while the tzibur recites selichos and piyutim, and this is certainly the case during kriyas haTorah. Someone who is not part of the minyan (but came to shul to hear kaddish or kedusha) is permitted to study.
( סעיף יח וס"ק נה-נח; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 65)
The reward of the 'first ten'
The first ten people to arrive in shul receive a reward equal to the reward of all those who come later. Some Rishonim hold that even among the first ten, those who come earlier receive a greater reward than those who come later. Other Rishonim write that the first ten are not differentiated from one another and are rewarded equally. According to the Zohar, the initial ten should gather outside the shul and enter together. The Acharonim write that even one who missed being one of the first ten should hurry to shul in order to arrive as close to the arrival of the Shechina as he can. The benefit of the 'first ten' applies to Mincha and Ma'ariv as well.
( סעיף יד וס"ק מז; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 46-47)

  • Someone davening with a minyan should not recite Shemoneh Esrei ahead of the rest of the congregation. It is considered as though he is disgracing the tzibur and possibly forfeiting, at least in part, tefilla b'tzibur.
  • There is benefit in choosing a farther shul over a closer one because there is a special reward for every step taken on the way to daven. If the closer shul has a larger tzibur, the benefit of rov am takes precedence.
  • It is a mitzva to hurry on the way to shul (or any other mitzva).

  • Designating a place to daven

  • Davening near an entrance

  • Davening­ towards a wall



PLEASE NOTE:  The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.