How to Handle These Potential Shul Embarrassment Scenarios?

All three of these situations occurred this past Shabbos and Sunday.

1) The loud Shomoneh Esrai davener.
A father of a guest davened a really loud silent Shomoneh Esrai. My friend moved his seat during every Shomoneh Esrai after Shacharis. I tried to wait him out by davening very slowly. I remember asking a Rav about this in the past and he suggested not saying anything as it would make the person very self-conscious when they davened.
Anybody have any suggestions on how to handle this?

2) The potential Art Scroll Offense.
There was an Auf Ruf on Shabbos and I gave the non-observant grandfather an Art Scroll Chumash for the leining. A friend mention that he seemed to be unable to find the place in his all Hebrew Siddur for Hallel so I went to get an English Art Scroll. Just as I was about to go over to hand it to him, he seemed to be davening with no problem out of the all-Hebrew Siddur so I refrained from giving it to him to avoid potential embarrassment.
How have other people handled this situation? Should one risk embarrassing the potential recipient?

3) During one of the Kaddishes on Sunday Rosh Chodesh Chanukah the Baal Tefillah was about to say the wrong Kaddish before Mussaf. Many people loudly stopped him in his tracks. This is a time-is-of-the-essence mistake.
Is there a less embarrassing way to correct the Baal Tefillah?

10 comments on “How to Handle These Potential Shul Embarrassment Scenarios?

  1. On a related situation… What about someone who davens loudly and is a “regular”? I assume we’ve all experienced this situation. The shulchan orach discusses someone who davens (not just the Amida) at a volume that disturbs the davening of others (or even just one other). The person must be (gently) asked to lower his volume to where only HE can hear himself, and no one else. If he ignores the request, and continues to daven where others can hear him, “stealing” their ability to daven with kavanah, then his davening goes nowhere
    In these situations, I have found it best to have the gabbai or even the Rav handle it.

  2. By the way, during the Torah reading, the people on the bimah ought to follow the Baal Koreh closely to detect errors. Often, they do not! It’s a lot less painful to hear a soft word of correction from up close than a loud one from way back in the room.

  3. Correcting the Baal Tefilla on a halachically important point is always immediate and in order—for example, if he is finishing a bracha using the wrong words.

    Something like a mispronunciation, though, can fall into another category that does not require immediate action.

  4. When it comes to the shatz, most people are not following every word so if you hear something, than you need to act quick. However, in my shul, there is a strict policy that only the Rav or the Gabbai may correct the baal koreh. This works very well. They know the halachos and don’t scream unnecessarily. Also, when a shatz is corrected, it is always a good idea (and cost-free) to follow up with a kind word. ie “I really enjoyed your davening”. etc.

  5. I agree with squarepeg. I suggest handling the siddur issue as follows:
    1. Take two Artscrolls in your hand.
    2. Go over to him and say hello and take a moment to make him feel comfortable and welcome.
    3. Then casually comment that you find this siddur easier to follow and ask “would you like one also” while extending it to him.

  6. 1. I agree with squarepeg and your Rav not to say anything to the loud davener, especially since he was a guest.

    2. I’ve been in similar situations and I try to follow my gut as to whether the individual seems to be able to follow otherwise.

    3. You need to correct the ST and you generally need to do it quickly. The problem that I’ve encountered is the way people scream or talk about it afterwards.

  7. 1. Don’t say anything to the loud davener. He’s a guest, after all.

    2. I think it’s fine to offer a different Siddur with English; I have done it many times for guests in our (Israeli) shul. You can just say, “this Siddur has English too — do you want it?” Often enough, people do, and if they don’t they can just say so.

    3. Yes, correct the Shaliach Tzibur. If no one does at all, he’ll never learn the correct way. If someone does afterwards, he will be embarrassed anyway that he made the mistake. If he’s corrected immediately, he’ll just go on. I think that ultimately it will cause the least embarrassment to correct him right away. That is how I would feel if I were ST. Anyway, it is not so surprising that someone might get the Kaddish wrong on a day with a “different” davening. If the ST does feel “jumped on” because so many people corrected him at once, a couple of “correcters” can be appointed for the future, especially for davening that is different than usual. Was this ST upset?

  8. re #2: You can’t assume non-observant = not capable.

    “A friend mention that he seemed to be unable to find the place in his all Hebrew Siddur”

    Maybe he was just looking around the siddur and taking it all in, thinking “It’s been awhile since I’ve seen all this…” One can only hope that a spark of curiosity ignites a foray into BT-land…

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