For the week ending 15 November 2008 / 17 Heshvan 5769

A Seat in Shul For All

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Question: The shul in which I pray can become very crowded for Kaballat Shabbat services because of the many guests who join the regular worshippers. This often leads to an embarrassing situation when a regular worshipper arrives to find that his seat has been taken by a visitor. What is the right thing to do on the part of that displaced person and on the part of the shul trustees?

Answer: While the regular worshipper certainly has a right to politely ask the visitor to vacate the seat, this is most uncomfortable both for him and the visitor. The only real solution to the problem, one that has already been implemented in some shuls, is to have spare benches that can be set up especially for such occasion. This allows for visitors to find a seat and enables the noble regular who has been displaced and does not wish to embarrass the visitor to at least have a seat for himself.

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