Religion Magazine

Interesting Psak: Shortening the Rosh Hashana Services

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
Rav Herschel Schachter, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Rav Yitzchak Elchonon, has issued a psak about the upcoming Yomim Noraim - Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, in light of these COVID-19 times and restrictions.
Due to the requirements for spacing in shuls and possible limitations on number of people allowed to be present at the same time, Rav Schahter says that shul will need to shorten the amount of davening time to be able to host multiple minyanim in order  to accommodate as many people as possible.
To accomplish this, Rav Schachter says that if need be shuls could leave out the piyutim, and the extra shofar blowing sessions (the necessary ones that can not be cut are the ones after the haftorah before Mussaf and the ones during the repetition of Mussaf - the ones at the end can be cut if necessary).
Pesukei Dzimra can be abbreviated as well, according to the regular rules of abbreviating Pesukei Dzimra. If a congregation is told to daven Pesukei Dzimra at home and shul will only start at Shacharis, the shul must start from Nishmas.
Interesting Psak: Shortening the Rosh Hashana services
I would note that this should be the same for outdoor minyanim in a place where it will get very hot and uncomfortable.
There are people saying that without the piyyutim it just won't feel like Rosh Hashana - it is almost like leaving out the spirit of the day - and perhaps one might just stay home and daven everything in such a situation.
I went one year to a GRA minyan. The custom of the GRA is to not say the piyyutim. I went because it was hot and it appealed to me to go to a minyan that would daven so much shorter and finish so much earlier.
I did not like it and I did not go back the 2nd day of Rosh Hashana.
It really felt lacking.
Maybe others would be ok with it, but for me I felt like I was missing part of the day.
Each shul would have to decide what its capabilities are and what is the right solution for it. Some shuls might have the necessary space and be able to have full services as usual, while others might need to skip - some more and some less. I would suggest that even the shuls that skip should still say a few of the piyyutim - the main ones that most people look forward to such as Unitzneh Tokef, VChol Maaminim, though obviously each shul could also decide which on its own.
Rav Schachter said to skip if need be. That does not mean a shul HAS to skip, nor does it mean if skipping they must all be skipped. Perhaps skipping 85% will work for some shuls while skipping 50% might work for others.
These are difficult times, and Rav Schachter found a good solution for flexibility in the services.
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