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The Airport Minyan

by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the S’fas Tamim Foundation

QUESTION: We left to the airport for a flight before it was the time permitted to daven Mincha and the flight was to arrive later at night.  We were not able to daven Mincha with a Minyan unless we would have arranged for a Minyan at the airport.
If we would have asked the airline customer service agent to let us make an announcement over the loudspeaker that we needed to make a Minyan for Mincha and that all who were interested should come to Gate 17, he would have probably responded with a, “No”. The agent would have probably allowed us to announce “Mister Mincha, please come to Gate 17.” Would this have been permitted, or is this a lie and would have been prohibited because of MiDvar Sheker Tirchak (distance yourself from a false matter)?
ANSWER: Believe it or not, this is not a simple question. There is a leniency that many Halachic authorities say that one may lie to perform a Mitzvah if what one says can be interpreted in another way (so what was said is not an outright lie). For example, in our case, one can say, “Missed a Mincha (which sounds like ‘Mr. Mincha’), please come to Gate 17.” However, it is unclear whether that leniency would be valid here because in this case, you may have been able to get a Minyan on your own if you tracked down enough people yourself – getting on the loudspeaker just made it easier to get a Minyan and do the Mitzvah.
My personal view is that this should not be done. Rav Yeruchem Olshin Shlita advised that it, in fact, is a problem of Sheker (telling a lie) and should be avoided. He further stated it is somewhat disparaging (a Bizayon) to refer to the Mincha service as “Mr. Mincha.”
Rav Dovid Shustal Shlita advised that it would technically be permitted from the perspective of MiDvar Sheker Tirchak because it is lying for the sake of a Mitzvah, but it would not be in keeping with “Dover Emes Bilvavo – one should speak truth in one’s heart” and should therefore be avoided. To be certain, one should ask his or her own Rav or Poseik on how to proceed.
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One Response

  1. Would it be more deferential to request that Mr. nisht nayn and Mr. nisht tsen please meet their “group” at Gate 17????

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