Saving shul seats, sidurrim for others not yet here

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    Reserving and “saving” for someone else has gotten out of hand – a shul with limited siddurim: can someone save a stack of siddurim for friends and family that haven’t arrived yet? Can someone save a few seats for friends and family?

    If so, is there a limit, on how many seats or siddurim one can save? Can the first person in shul save ALL the siddurim or seats in a shul? Is the limit just one extra seat or extra siddur? Why one, why not five (or twenty)?

    I come to a kiddush and literally, half the seats are “reserved” or “save” by one person for all her family or friends. That seems wrong!

    Zochim l’adom, one can acquire for someone else, even if one does not need for himself, BUT only if lo chav l’acherim, it does not cause damage/harm for others. Seats, siddurim are limited and chapping them for others that aren’t here causes damage to those of us that are here.


    I’ve never seen a shul short on siddurim.


    I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a shul where they run out of siddurim but I’ve certainly seen the “seat saving” issue, especially around the yom tovim. The most popular “reservation” methodology is the old fashioned spreading of taalasim over the seats (which I find offensive for reasons other than the seat saving issue). As to saving seats at Kiddush, chazal bring down the inyan that a”makom kavuah” does not extend to fressing cholent after musaf.


    If my seat has my nameplate on it showing that I have purchased it, NO ONE has richus to be seated, even if I don’t show up until Adon Olam.
    I have no problem with a person holding seats at kiddush so that his wife/kids have time to join him and be seated as a family. That does NOT mean entering the kiddush hall in advance of the congregation to reserve the seats. Unless we are sponsoring the kiddush or attending a simcha such as a Bar Mitzvnch , we don’t stay for the food, we leave after the Rav makes kiddush. We eat lunch at home, not shul.

    I’m old fashioned, I think kiddush should be wine, kichel, grape juice and maybe some fresh fruit.


    “I’ve never seen a shul short on siddurim.” – there is usually plenty of one type of siddur, but a very limited number of “other” types of siddurim, e.g. Sefard vs Ashkenaz vs Ari vs Art Scroll etc. In fact most shuls DON’T have a VAST number of ALL types of siddurim. I only saw that at the Kosel.


    To clarify:

    The din of zochin l’adam (one can acquire for another that is not presnt) is based on migo dzachi l’nafsho zochi namee l’chavro (because one can acquire it for himself he may likewise acquire it for his friend),

    However, the ability to acquire for one’s self is only ONE seat, one siddur not multiple seats or a stack of siddurim!

    Therefore. by what halachic right can a person “save” seats for others not present?!

    It may be gezel harabim (stealing property that belongs to the public)!

    Dare I say: Not being erlich starts in shul?!


    “I have no problem with a person holding seats at kiddush so that his wife/kids have time to join him and be seated as a family”

    CTLawyer, do you also have no problem with a person chapping 6-8 pieces of kugel (not leaving enough for others attending) so that his wife and kids can later join him and when they arrive, eat together as a family?!

    Is THAT proper?!

    What right does one have to “hold” seats for people that are not here, thereby depriving people that are actually here from being seated?! Are these “your” seats, that you can commandeer them? Do these seats have your nameplate? Why do you no problem chapping them without any rights to them???


    I made no mention of taking food. It is only proper to take food not for yourself if it is to feed an elderly or infirm adult who is unable to do so, or a parent putting food onto the plate of a young child who should not be taking it him/herself.
    These types of kiddushes with the heavy cooked food are not the norm in our OOT shuls.
    In fact I had a run in years ago with the Rebbitzen of my shul in my previous town. She was heard announcing to her 8 children that they should eat plenty at the kiddush, because she was not serving Shabbos lunch when they got home.
    The executive board had a discussion with the Rabbi after that about this unacceptable behavior.

    BTW>>>>unlike many shtieblach, our suburban synagogues do not have a shortage of seating space (or food). Attendees are generally members. Seats being saved at kiddush are so that a family may be seated together, not to get a seat while others have to stand.

    It sounds like you attend a shul with ill-bred and ill-behaved people


    “If my seat has my nameplate on it showing that I have purchased it, NO ONE has richus to be seated, even if I don’t show up until Adon Olam.”

    That sounds like midas Sedom. It is absurd that a yid has to stand throughout davening next to an empty seat that isn’t being used.

    (Unless you meant Adon Olam before berachos, in which case I agree)


    CTL who are they to tell a Rov what to do?


    “I made no mention of taking food. It is only proper to take food not for yourself if it is to feed an elderly or infirm…”

    Explain the “nafka mina” (distinction) between grabbing (saving, hogging, chapping) one limited commodity over the other.

    There are limited seats. People that are here are standing around eyeing the empty seats that you saved for your wife and children THAT ARE NOT HERE…that you say is ok.

    But yet you agree that it’s not ok for you to save kugel (or in OOT kiddushim: extra crackers/cake/pretzels…whatever), depriving others from the limited supply, so that your wife and children will be able to have kiddush b’mokom seuda?

    My Nafka Mina?

    The commodities are for the public. Each person is welcome to take for THEMSELVES. What right is there to take for multiple people (whether chairs, food, siddurim…)??

    People come up with their self-justifications, that works for them, on the cheshbon of others. Is that fair?


    You also raised another sore point: “If my seat has my nameplate on it showing that I have purchased it,”

    Think about it: The seat is “yours” because you purchased it. What legal rights do you have in the seat?
    Can you break the seat? (Why not – it’s “yours”?) Can you take it home?

    The purchase of the seat means that you have the right to use it, but is that right exclusive (that no one else can use it)? Purchasing the seat clearly does not give you full ownership of the seat.

    Therefore, what property rights DO you have in the seat?

    Does that seat need to remain empty till you show up? Maybe if someone else is already using your seat, you temporarily “lost” your seat? Example, the landlord loses part of his rights in his property when it is occupied by a tenant. The landlord needs to go through the eviction process to get rid of the tenant. (I use this moshel because you are a lawyer).

    A shul extends an open invitation to all visitors to enter and use their facility. This implied invitation allows visitors to become “tenants” in “your” empty seat. As the “landlord” (with very limited property rights) you cannot merely evict the tenant because you showed up!

    I am explaining this at length because this is a common misconception in shuls when people claim rights to “their” seats.


    Before we talk siddurim and seats, let’s talk kiddush.
    Years ago, we youngsters were taught by our parents not to take seat until all older people were seated. We would also offer our seats to. any older person who arrived from another shul to be at the kiddush, and we always had food anyway.
    Nowadays, almost half a kishke,cholent,schmaltz,fish, 3 kugeled kiddush table is surrounded by comfortably seated kids who will never offer their seats, and far worse…. Their fathers who will never ask them to rise for guests…
    Fix this chutzpah , and teach manners to parents & children alike, then I’ll worry about siddurim and seat reservations.


    where did I write the board told a Rov what to do?
    I’ll give 1000 dollars tzedaka if you can point that out
    I wrote the board had a discussion about unacceptable behavior by his wife

    The Rav is an employee of the congregation and serves at their pleasure. When his contract was up it was not renewed for a number of reasons.


    No one has to stand while my paid for eat sits empty awaiting my arrival.
    The nature of small town shuls is that they were built to accommodate the baby boom of the 50s and 60s (as well as white flight) and have far more seats than members to fill them.

    As I have posted before, there are signs in our shul’s lobby informing guests to ask an usher or gabbai for a place to sit and that seats with name plates are not to be used by guests.
    I have also posted that if I know I will not be in attendance I inform the gabbai in advance and tell him he may let others use my seat


    This could all be avoided if people in a shul welcomed guests and helped them find a seat, siddur or anything else they might need.

    This could be avoided if a shul with 40 seats and 38 regular mispallelim was expecting an additional 25 mispallelim for a simcha, planned accordingly by bringing in extra chairs and/or siddurim. If there is no physical space to do so, that is poor planning on the part of the baal simcha.


    Rebbetzin, the right is to the seat and not to the chair.


    Why should you consider it chutzpah for a kid to have a seat? It sounds like you consider it that way because that’s how you were raised. Maybe you were raised wrong?


    We have a limited number of “sit down” tables at Kiddush at our shul since most daveners gulp down a piece of kugel and fish while standing and then run home to have lunch with their families. There is one table “reserved” for a “study group” for about 30 minutes and then benches. The other two tables are typically “reserved” for the older daveners who cannot stand easily. When someone has a big simcha (with a correspondingly bigger lunch buffet) we typically have enough tables for sit down.

    I’m still not sure I agree with CT Lawyer that a donation for a brass plaque on a bench and shtender gives one permanent chazakah when they are not there. In our shul, about half the benches have a brass plaque in memory of XYZ, but those seats are not treated as a makom kavuah.


    Reb G. – in my youth I attended a shul with seats as CTL described, and rights to the seat were decided by the shuls Board of Directors to be that the seat with your name is yours and you have the right to ask someone to please move to another empty seat. So simply put, it depends what the board of directors decided when they sold the seats. In the shul where I presently daven, a person purchases his seat for the year and that seat is reserved shabbos or Yom Tov morning until yishtabach (again decided by the board).


    CTLawyer The Rebbetzin should have respect. You should get on your knees for such a kavod. A Rov isn’t flavored ice cream.


    apushatayid: as I wrote in another thread discussing this subject, we have two charts in two different places in the shul showing the seat that are sold and those that are “open”. If a person is having a simcha, they are expected to be there before brochos and help seat their guests.


    Hachnosos Orchim doesnt mean, they are plonis guests for his simcha, so lets make it plonis problem. At least not in my shul.


    Don’t try to argue law with an attorney, you have not read the contract for sale of the seat. Not only have I read it, I wrote it along with a property attorney and a Superior Court Judge.

    I purchased a life tenancy, so no I can’t take it home. Anyone using it without my permission is not a tenant as you suppose (erroneously) but a SQUATTER subject to immediate eviction.

    Your suppositions that: “A shul extends an open invitation to all visitors to enter and use their facility. This implied invitation allows visitors to become “tenants” in “your” empty seat. As the “landlord” (with very limited property rights) you cannot merely evict the tenant because you showed up!

    I am explaining this at length because this is a common misconception in shuls when people claim rights to “their” seats.” is FALSE. Our shul has signs in the lobby instructing visitors/guests to see an usher or gabbai for seating and that seats with nameplates are not to be used without permission,
    I f I know I’ll not e in shul on a given day, I infirm the gabbai, and as my agent he may let someone use my seat.

    The $5,000 I paid for my seat 30 years ago doesn’t relieve me of paying annual dues.
    The congregation is a private entity and as such may adopt its own rules, you can’t make blanket statements based on other synagogues’ practices.


    I purchased a life tenancy, so no I can’t take it home. Anyone using it without my permission is not a tenant as you suppose (erroneously) but a SQUATTER subject to immediate eviction.

    Where is this shul? Sounds like a nice place


    Can we all agree there is no “general” rule about saving seats…as CT lawyer correctly notes, its 100 percent local minhag. Having said that, there are certain non-legalistic concerns (for those whose property law 101 and 1L contract law credentials are dated or non-existant) that some feel should always apply relative to both the optics and common sense practices of “hoarding” seats, siddurim, food during Kiddush etc. Its not always what it appears so the advice to consult the gabbai or one of the daveners as to minhag ha’makom should guide your actions, and more importantly, your REACTIONS to the behavior of others.


    pushatayid: And what baal simcha would knowingly schedule a simcha in a shtieblach with 40 seats that are full every shabbos if he know in advance that he has invited at least 25 additional guests who will be coming and there is no where to put them (other than in the kitchen, or the ezras nashim (and telling the latter to stand outside)


    CTLaw – I ask again that you explain:

    “I made no mention of taking food. It is only proper to take food not for yourself if it is to feed an elderly or infirm…”

    Explain the “nafka mina” (distinction) between grabbing (saving, hogging, chapping) one limited commodity (which you think it is ok to save seats for wife and kids) over the other (which you agree is not ok to save for for others – unless elderly or infirm).

    🍫Syag Lchochma

    CTLawyer The Rebbetzin should have respect. You should get on your knees for such a kavod. A Rov isn’t flavored ice cream.
    where do you come up with these things? You’re so busy trying to argue on CTL that you are willing to say anything whether it makes sense or not?


    Is that supposed to imply that a Rav is ice cream but does not have flavor? If it does, is that an insult?


    Someone at a kiddush that chapps away from the public a large amount of food (for others not in attendance yet) is a gonef. The food is stolen food – on which a brocha cannot be said! This food cannot be used as the seuda for kiddush – for kiddush b’mokom seuda. So go ahead and eat that kugel without a brocha,, and you were not be yotzei kiddush with that stolen platter of cake!

    Erlich starts and ends in shul! The gonif in shul who steals public property will also be the gonif outside shul stealing public funds and from private people – because his individual wants and desires come before everyone else..

    And the “baalei chesed” that ooze with helping others – as long as it does not involve their seats, I wonder how much chesed do you really have if you fail to be inconvenienced by a guest using your seat which was empty till you shhowed up at borchu?


    Syag it’s because you’ll find an attitude in MO shuls that a Rov is a simple employee.


    Re: Maybe you were raised wrong?
    Maybe. Because now as an adult the pipsqueaks all sit while when I go to an invited kiddush, I stand holding a plastic
    plate with oily kugel on it. At least I learned that no good deed goes unpunished.


    Yep. Its Adar.


    @Gadolahadora. So, since all baalei simcha are as sensible as you assert, this discussion about sitting in others seats is moot, since there is always plenty of space for everyone. siddurim and chumashim too. and place at the kiddush, and food.


    You don’t seem to be willing to understand that there are no shortage of seats for kiddush at our shul. The only seat saving I condone is so that a family may sit together. I would prefer that Yankele save 6 seats so that when Ima and the babies come into the social hall the family sits together and both parents tend to the kids, than have three youngsters parked in single empty eats at otherwise adult tables.

    As for hoarding or grabbing quantities of food that is unacceptable. We are a bit more upscale than many shuls, if there is a kiddush with more than kichel, wine, juice there will be paid staff from the caterer serving the food, no one will be grabbing 6 pieces of kugel. Someone may have two plates in his hands, one for himself and one for an elderly or infirm relative who is already seated. The servers would place one piece on each plate……period.

    I never said it is okay to hoard limited quantity items, getting a plate for an elderly or infirm person is not hoarding.

    B”H neither food or seating is stretched to the limits in our shul.

    To quote my deceaed OMA, it soundslike the people behaving that way in the shuls you frequent sound like ‘peasants from the east’


    Please do not confuse purchased seats for use (life tenancy in our shul) with fundraising memorial placques on seats. I have no right to claim a seat that has a placque in memory of my late father. That just says money was given to the shul to honor his memory, just like a window, classroom, etc. My right is to a seat with my own name on it for which I purchased a life use plus pay annual dues. When my father Z”L was niftar, his name plate was removed from his seat and it was made for sale by the shul. My brother purchased it for his grandson.


    Kids who come to Shul to daven get to sit before people who come just for kiddush.


    Let’s say you’re right, which I don’t agree anyway….
    The fact is that they take seats ahead of older people who daven with them. It’s outrageous, because MOST fathers don’t give a hoot, spoil their kids , and don’t teach them derech eretz.. In fact, somebody bring down any opinion of any rav who agrees with that. I’d be more impressed that a rav speaks up or writes about it in his weekly column than a clever vort about the eigel hazahav in his drasha.


    … In fact, I now remember when the rebbe of a shteibel where we davened years ago, mentioned it before his rebbetzin’s kugel was brought in every Shabbos ” No children should be seated before the adults” he said. Then we wonder about lack of respect for parents, rabeiim and teachers.


    Unfortunately, something happened today the CTL family that affects our seats this Shabbos………………………

    My 14 year old grandson was playing basketball in PE and twisted and broke his ankle. Tomorrow morning they will operate and pin the ankle back together. He will be restricted to the house for two weeks, then out using crutches. He will recuperate in our home because his own bedroom is on the second floor, and we have a first floor handicapped accessible/equipped suite that had been used by both out late mothers.
    SO, this Shabbos the CTL clan will hold minyan at our home as well as kiddush and lunch. At minyan this afternoon I told the shul Gabbai that he was welcome to let others use our seats this week.


    I was shocked to learn how many things are considered “Chav L’Acharinei” – this includes saving seats for someone, taking extra food for someone, etc. It is ossur to “reserve” things for one person, when others will lose out in the process.


    refuah shlelaimah….may the surgery be a success and the healing process be quick and pain free as possible.


    kollelman – the halacha is that a person CAN be zoche l’acher EVEN when chav l’acherim based on MIGO D’Zachi L’Nafshei – Zochi Namee L’CHavrei, however this MIGO is limited to what he can be zoche for himself.

    In shul a person can be zoche ONE siddur for himself, therefore, even if he has no need for the siddur, he may grab it for someone else (notwithstanding that his grabbing the siddur is CHav L’Acherim – others are deprived of this siddur).

    If he grabs more than one siddur INCLUDING his own, he is GOZEL ES HARABIM, and the tefilah from such a siddur is “ba b’avera”.

    I believe if someone is GOZEL ES HARABBIM by a kiddush – it is prohibited to make a brocha on such food. (-but halacha l’ma’aseh: ask your rov).

    In fact, I would think that such a person is Possul L’Eidus, (far worse than an “ochel b’shuk” or a mesachek b’kuvya”). A gozol es ha’rabim can never repay the gezellah, that by grabbing the extra siddurim, he stole my (and others) ability to daven from a siddur that day or my (and others) oneg shabbos from eating kugel at the kiddush.

    I think such a person is a rosha m’rusha ‘lchol hadayos!

    Yes, I am angry that such a ba’al avera exists in our midst.

    Give me that siddur you are hogging. Give me tthat seat you are hording. Give me kugel!

    Avi K

    CTL, FYI there are some shuls that have a rule that a person who does not come by Barchu loses his right to the seat for that tefilla. BTW, there were communities in Germany that fined people who came after Baruch sheAmar.


    I think the better seats should be given to the elderly, or as a privilege of the people who arrive early. I have no issue with someone saving a seat while his wife is taking the child to the restroom, so a family can sit together. Other than that, there should be a 5-10 minute limit on seat-holding. I cannot stand when someone holds a few seats for a friend who may not arrive, or worse, whispers back and forth.

    As far as the rule that all adults should sit first, it is not easy to keep a child still if they are not sitting. (Perhaps not all children, I had 2 with special needs). I know there are different rules for different shuls, and not everyone is as considerate as CTLawyer when they are not going to be there. But really, consideration for others would solve most of these problems.

    Just last week I was in a waiting room when an elderly couple walked in, and 1 seat remained. It bothered me tremendously that the teen girl and her mother that were already seated barely glanced up from their phone and magazine. I stood and could only hope that the girl noticed that people out there would be kind to a stranger, but I know it is rare today.


    It’s an inyan of derech eretz, a quality that is sadly lacking in many shuls… including the one my husband davens at but where I refuse to daven any more. I agree with both sides (CTLawyer & Rebbetzin) Makom Kavuah should be adhered to, especially for someone who is there almost every Tefillah when shul opens up. It is disrespectful if someone gets up to leave for a few moments & comes back to see her seat occupied by someone else or her siddur gone.

    Re Kiddushim: what I can’t stand is people double-dipping into salads, using their used fork to spear food & kids picking up pieces of kugel, cake etc with their hands, often sniffing them and putting them back! What kind of homes do they come from?? But the good thing is, it keeps me on a diet! No way would I eat from those plates.


    I am not writing about pother shuls that have other rules, or what went on in Germany decades before either of us were born.
    I wrote about the contract for sale of a seat and its privileges in my own synagogue.
    My mother’s side was German, arriving in the USA from Bavaria in 1868. I was brought up that if you are not punctual it is rude and unacceptable. The last time I was late to shul was first day R”H 5778 because my MIL was niftara the previous evening and I would not leave Mrs. CTL until our daughters had arrived to her, then I went to shul where my sons, sons in law and older grandchildren were in the family seats.

    Every shul is an independent organization that may have a board that sets rules, others are fiefdoms run by the will of the Rav. What we don’t have is a diocese system such as the Catholic Church that sets standard rules to be followed by every constituent parish.

    Every Jew may join or not join the synagogue of his/her choice providing they meet the requirements set for membership. Once a member they are free to get involved and reach a position that helps set policy.

    I grew up in a shul that had open seating, I prefer assigned/purchased seats. That said I often willingly give up my seat in advance for scheduled simchas.
    Unlike shteiblach, I am speaking about a seat in the sanctuary (which has hundreds of fixed pew seats) NOT the minyan room, which seats 60 and is first come first served (except for the Rav’s seat).


    “It’s an inyan of derech eretz, ”

    It could be a doraisa of “mipnei seiva takum” (my rav mentions this several times a year in context of weddings. people stand for the chassan and kallah – for whatever reason – and aside from some family, how many people stand for the grandparents who walk down to the chuppa, where it is a doraisa to stand for them).


    ct: hopefully i am not violating HIPPA, how did your grandson’s surgery go? are the dr’s optimistic that the pin will heal the ankle properly?

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