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Rav Soloveitchik (in Community, Covenant & Commitment, pp. 133-136) gives three reasons for his psak that one should stay home and not hear the shofar rather than going to a shofar blowing in a mixed sex crowd:

  1. The sanctity of the Synagogue prohibits mingling (thus any prayers therein are worthless)
  2. Separation was a hallmark of Jewish practice that differentiated us from other sects over the millennium
  3. Family pews are against the Jewish spirit of prayer which requires that we lean only on HKB”H (i.e. lonely people of faith)

1. Does anyone know the source of the “prayers are worthless” ruling?
2. Does anyone know if this would be considered a mitzvah haba b’aveira (mitzvah done through a sin), even if the blower was a religious person?
In conversations on brain death, electricity etc. with those whose pay grade is way above mine, I generally ask if they think Chazal thought about issues that were for all intents and purposes non-differentiable or existent in their time. Have you asked this question and what answer did you get?

Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].

About Joel Rich

Joel Rich is a frequent wannabee cyberspace lecturer on various Torah topics. A Yerushalmi formerly temporarily living in West Orange, NJ, his former employer and the Social Security administration support his Torah listening habits. He is a recovering consulting actuary.

One comment

  1. Re the Rav and his psak on not hearing shofar in a mixed pews synagogue-there is some authority from a mainstream living very close talmid of the Rav who mused that in his opinion it is far from clear that the Rav would psaken the same way today when the battle over mixed pews is over. According to this living person the Ravs psak likely involved public policy grounds not merely psak on hearing a shofar when there was no other choice. Since I am not aware of that person stating his viewpoint publicly it is not cricket to quote him by name when his musings were in a room of fewer than 10 people present.

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