Respecting the Sanctity of the Shul

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Speaking in Shul or Bet Midrash

  1. It’s utterly forbidden to act frivolously in a Shul or Bet Midrash in any way such as laughter, vane speech, or humor. [1]
  2. It’s forbidden to speak about non-holy matters in a shul or Bet Midrash including speech about business or an occupation. [2]
  3. Similarly, it’s forbidden to read or write secular subjects in a Shul or Bet Midrash. [3]
  4. It’s much worse of a transgression to speak forbidden speech such as Lashon Hara, Rechilut, or starting fights in a Shul or a Bet Midrash in the place where the Shechina dwells. [4]
  5. In a Bet Midrash, one shouldn’t say G-d Bless you or LaBriyut or Gezuntite when someone sneezes. Nowadays, some are lenient because many aren’t so caeful about not speaking mundane speech in a Bet Midrash and some are strict because it’ll cause people to speak mundane speech in the Bet Midrash. It seems everyone will agree that in middle of learning it’s forbidden to say it. [5]

Sleeping in Shul or Bet Midrash

  1. One may not sleep (even a temporary sleep) in a shul, but in a bais medrash it is permitted to take a temporary sleep. A talmid chacham may sleep in a shul or a beit midrash. [6]


  1. S”A 151:1
  2. Mishna Brurah 151:2
  3. Rav Nevinsal in BeYitzchak Yikra on Mishna Brurah 151:2
  4. Mishna Brurah 151:2
  5. S”A Y”D 246:17 writes that one may not say Refuah when someone sneezes based on the Gemara Brachot 53a. Levush Y”D 246:17 brings the halacha as in S”A. The Perisha Y”D 246:36 writes that perhaps nowadays we can be lenient considered that many aren’t strict about mundane speech in the Bet Midrash in general. The Shach Y”D 246:16 and Aruch HaShulchan Y”D 246:33 quote the Perisha as halacha. However, the Taz Y”D 246:6 argues that there’s no reason to be more lenient and it’ll cause people to speak mundane speech in the Bet Midrash. [Bear Hetiev Y”D 246:9 quotes the dispute the perisha first and the Taz second.] S”A HaRav (Hilchot Talmud Torah 4:11) and Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A Y”D 245-6 #33) agree with the Taz. S”A HaRav clarifies that it’s forbidden to answer Asuta even not at the time of learning as long as one’s in a Bet Midrash, and all the more so, when one is learning.
  6. Mishnah Berurah 151:15-6