Sunday, September 16, 2007

Behind the synagogue

מי שהיה עובר אחורי בית הכנסת, או שהיה ביתו סמוך לבית הכנסת, ושמע קול שופר, או קול מגילה--אם כיוון ליבו, יצא; ואם לאו, לא יצא

One who passes behind the synagogue, or whose house is next to the synagogue, and heard the sound of the shofar or the sound of the megillah, if she directed her heart, she has fulfilled her obligation, and if not, she has not fulfilled her obligation.
--Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 3:5

Much has been said about this mishnah, and it is often a jumping-off point for discussions of whether mitzvot require intention. But I never thought about it as a real-life situation until walking around Jerusalem on Rosh Hashanah. Teki'ot and teru'ot can be heard every few blocks, and I'm pretty sure that at least one set was coming from an apartment. So if you're in Jerusalem and want to hear the shofar, there's really no need to go to services; just walk around for a while, or even stay in bed.


  1. if only i'd known that growing up ... we lived in an apartment in the synagogue building over the sanctuary ... and still our parents made us go to services!

    shana tova, bz!

  2. Although the gemara understands mekaven libo as "have intention" a careful reading of tanaaic source reveals that it might just mean "face the source of the sound". That was as far as the mishna conceived "intention". As taught by R' Richie Lewis

  3. That's all fine. What, however, do you think about Obadiah Shoher's criticism pf Rosh Hashanah as aholiday that has nothing to do with New Year? Here, for example

  4. The sound of a shofar may last
    For the time that it takes to walk past
    A synagogue; still
    If it wasn't his will
    To have heard it, he needs to reblast.