Guns in Shul

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    Reb Eliezer

    Rav Chaim’s psak is very surprising as it says הקל קול יעקב והידים ידי עשיו we are suppose to pray except maybe some guards who are trained in firearms.


    Any person untrained in using firearms in a combat situation (i.e. more than shooting at a target, or even an animal) is not likely to be of much use fighting a terrorist, and probably will injure himself (e.g. “shoot himself in the foot”) or others (i.e. “friendly fire”).

    One might also argue that the derech of Yaakov is not to show off and display a gun on Shabbos (or any other time) but to keep it out of sight. Boasting publicly that one is ready to kill terrorists serves only to “dare” them. If one is authorized by the Rav (or President, or Gabbai, etc.) to have a gun in shul, it should be known only to them, and to anyone else with a gun – it shouldn’t be displayed. The Kol Yaakov in this case should not be discussing firearms (unless a terrorist shows up, in which case he may shoot him and go back to davening).

    Reb Eliezer

    REb Eliezer
    How do you explain all those parts of tanach were the jewish nation went to war?
    It has always been our way that tefillah and hishtadlus go hand in hand
    You daven, but when necessary, make preparations for war
    Up until a month ago I think this was a different conversation
    But after jersey city , monsey and all the other attacks no one can possibly say they don’t understand the hishtadlus of arming themselves. You may not choose it for yourself, but our ancestors would be grabbing their swords right about now

    Reb Eliezer

    We are not trained in using firearms. People who were afraid or sinned were sent back. Rashi explains that they could say they returned because of the other reasons. It says הקל קול some translate it that when Yaakov’s voice is weak, Aisov comes.

    yaakov doe

    Can you imagine to bloodshed when poorly trained well meaning bal habatim open fire in a crowded shul, especially when some are active in the kiddush club. Trained cops kill other cops in friendly fire accidents and use quite a few shots to hit a bad guy. Perhaps I should wear a bullet proof vest under my kapota.


    Any large shul should spend whatever funds that are necessary to have professional security personnel on site during davening and other shul events. There are increased federal and state grants available to assist in the funding. In many cities, the local police are providing supplemental security at key times but obviously cannot protect every shtiebel or beis medrash. However, it would be madness to simply allow every Moishe and Yankel to pack w/o their first having received comprehensive training. Sadly, many states don’t require ANY training (or allowing minimal online courses) in lieu of actual training at an authorized range by a certified instructor. In fact, the individual who took out the shooter in the Texas church last week was himself a former gun range owner and instructor.


    Answer to the post is simple.
    I believe there is a huge misconception. This that we are taught that having a gun isnt the jewish way applies to the “vigilante” ‘take matters into my own hands’ type of way. people -Eisav- who walk around with an attitude of “if you cross me you”ll suffer my wrath”. That is “al Charbicha tichyeh”. That is EIsav.
    But to obtain weapons for actual self-defense in light of a real threat, why thats an OPEN HALACHA IN SHULCHAN ARUCH THAT WE MAY CARRY WEOPONS, EVEN ON SHABBOS, TO DEFEND OURSELVES IN THE FACE OF AN ADVANCING ENEMY!
    So, i think that clarifies the issue. Anyone agree? disagree?
    BTW, akuperma and gadolhadora are correct that its lunacy to have untrained people with firearms, it may even become necessary to make a rule, no guns in shul unless you can prove a certain amount of training.


    I don’t see how Rav Chaim’s psak shtims with the ads for Stop the Talking in Shul. In those ads, it says Rabbi Eytan Feiner (of the White Shul) ask Rav Chaim how much his shul should spend on security, to which he replied that if they stopped talking in shul, they wouldn’t have to spend anything.

    Yaakov Doe, your niece in Texas told me that lots of congregants there carry weapons. And it’s common for people in some shuls in Israel to carry.


    To quote Meir Kahana HYD, “every jew a 22”.


    One third of the people in my Shul carry. (Gilo) And they are all trained to shoot properly (regardless of amount of people) because otherwise you lose your license to carry. Smart

    Chaim Eliezer

    Sometimes civilians can be more effective and responsible than police. In the recent Texas church shooting, one man fired and hit the gunman, one man fired and missed, and another five drew their guns but held their fire. Unfortunately our NY and NJ gun laws prevent any of us from attaining this level of experience.


    The recent incident at the Church in Texas shows how when properly trained there is no shootout but one
    defender waiting for a clear shot while others drew their weapons without firing shows the results of having properly armed and trained congregants.

    Reb Eliezer

    As I am learning daf yomi Brochos 5,2 that we should stay together in shul when we came together and not leave your friend alone so Tosfas says that currently it doesn’t apply but it is nice to do it. Maybe with the danger now, this halacha gets reconstituted. see SA O’CH 90,15 in the RMA.


    The mishna in Shabbos mamkes clear that weapons of war are inherently not Shabbos’dik. And they probably had in mind someone wanting to wear fancy parade armor. Furthermore, if a terrorist can easily identify who has a weapon, they know who to target first. If it is necessary for civilians in their community to carry weapons on Shabbos, it is best to conceal them.

    And I seriously question how many frum Jews have the sort of training to be able, in a crowded shul, to hit a moving target that is firing back at you, but that’s a different matter.


    And I seriously question how many frum Jews have the sort of training to be able, in a crowded shul, to hit a moving target that is firing back at you, but that’s a different matter.
    Read the statistics on how the percentage of bullets fired by police (during an armed confrontation) that hit their mark. Its sobering.
    But that just shifts the argument toward saying that those that carry bear the responsibility to be well trained and cause no harm


    Reb Eliezer
    Read the meforshim on Esther 8:11
    we davened and did tshuva first then took up arms and slaughtered the sonei yisroel.
    How is this different?
    In europe we were not allowed to be armed so we did what we could. In america we have that right, so why should we behave differently then klal yisroel did during the times of tanach?
    I do not see how your statements about how the army chose soldiers bears on the discussion. Unless you want to say that the people carrying the guns in the shul should be klei kodesh?

    Reb Eliezer

    mentsch1, maybe that is what the pasuk is telling us. הקל קול יעקב if it wil be prayer first, then והידים ידי עשו
    we can use the weapons of Aisov.


    Might be dangerous in case someone gets שביעי when expecting ששי.


    OP’s question has already been answered, but I wanted to address people’s practical concerns. Realize that I live “out-of-town” in a State that doesn’t have NY/NJ/MD’s restrictions and practical inability to obtain conceal carry permits.

    1. I absolutely agree that not every Chaim and Yankel should just “go out and buy a gun.” First of all, not everyone is the right person, i.e. if someone struggles with ka’as, isn’t good at ascertaining situations, etc. This is true of anything. HOWEVER…

    1a. In most of these horrific situations, the rasha is a coward who will run at the first sign of any resistance. So even if the mispallel misses, or, chas v’shalom, hits someone else, it will generally lead to the rasha running away and will save lives anyway. Ma kol shekein if there’s several people.

    1b. The bigger concern with lack of training is just someone not carrying properly and leading to a negligent discharge, i.e. doesn’t have the right kind of holster, isn’t familiar with the different aspects of the pistol, etc.

    1c. The NRA has a good online course that gives people- especially people with 0 prior knowledge- a good grasp on the very, very basics that should help prevent most “Chaim and Yankel” problems. (I don’t care about their politics, I just know that this course is a good intro course.)

    2. Becoming decently proficient does not take a lot of time, but costs can add up, especially in-town where ammo is much more expensive, and you can’t order in bulk because no one will ship there due to the aforementioned laws and regulations. So before someone decides to do this, they need to be able to budget between $30-$50/mo for range time and ammo.

    3. People from in-town often seem to have the mentality that Reb Eliezer has, that regular people are not trained to use firearms. However, as Chaim Eliezer alluded to, the truth is that most responsible gun owners tend to do much, much, MUCH more training than the average police officer. Most police departments only require officers to qualify once a year, whereas, as I mentioned above, you should go to the range at least once a month, if not twice monthly. Will it make you the bulls-eye shooter that Jack Wilson was after owning a shooting range and being a firearms instructor for decades? Obviously not, but like I said above, that’s not what you need in most circumstances, whether in Shul or at home.

    4. Akuperma brings up the Mishna in Shabbos. Several people in my Shul carry, and besides for a few who like to talk about it, I’m pretty sure no one besides the Rav knows the name of everyone who carries. Conceal carry works- again, when you take the couple of hours to actually learn how to do it, and not just assume you know. It’s really not that complicated, but that initial training/book reading MUST be done.

    5. The other big thing that people don’t think about is the law. If you don’t know the laws of self-defense, you can easily find yourself the suspect instead of the hero. You must learn the laws of self-defense in the State you live, possibly by reading the book “The Laws of Self Defense” by Andrew Branca.

    5a. Because of the legal concerns, especially in States that don’t like guns to begin with, I would highly recommend having carry insurance. This insurance, which can buy from the USCCA, U.S. Law Shield, and other companies, will cover your legal fees should you be charged and prosecuted after a shooting.

    I guess what I’m saying is that people who aren’t familiar with guns drastically overestimate how much training and knowledge is required, however the basic stuff really should be done, even if the law doesn’t require it. (And no, even NY/NJ’s required courses don’t qualify.) Guns are not magic kaballah talismans that will ward all harm away from you. They’re powerful tools that, when used properly (or even owned properly) can help save your life and the life of others.

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