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Section:  Avodah   Category: Innocent Observations
Help! Someone Is Sitting In My Makom Kavua
Have you ever been a stranger in a strange Shul?  Then you might know the unpleasant feeling of being asked to get up from a seat that you sat in.  What is ironic is that the basis (or justification) that people use to ask someone to vacate their personal seat is a gemara in Brachos 6b that says, "Kol HaKovei'a Makom L'Tfilaso, Elokai Avrohom B'Ezro", whoever fixes a permanent place for his Tefilos, the Hashem of Avrohom will save him.  

Having a Makom Kavua for Tefila is very important, as it shows a serious and a consistency in Tefila. But I ask you, wasn't Avrohom the greatest and most hospitable person to ever live?  Do you really think Avrohom ever asked someone to leave his seat in Shul,even if it meant that he couldn't daven in his Makom Kavua? Hard to believe.

So what is pshat is this enigmatic gemara?  Many Meforshim learn that Kovei'a Makom means that we direct our Tefilos to the right place.  We daven for Hashem's Kavod to be revealed in the world and other spiritual matters.  Even those who take the gemara at face value, don't necessarily interpret it to mean in the exact same spot with the exact same chair.  Others say that this importance of the same Makom has to do with thinking very Holy Kavanos in that specific spot, which is far beyond our madreiga anyway.

Maybe we can say pshat B'Derech Tzachus as follows.  Our shuls, especially in Eretz Yisroel, are very crowded.  There aren't always enough seats for the members and their children, let alone the guests that fill the Shuls on Shabbos.  If you own a seat you can help someone out by letting them sit there, especially if they are already sitting there.  You have wonderful chance to do the Mitzva of Hachnosas Orchim in the holiest of places, Hashem's home.  Avrohom was the greatest Machnis Orach of them all and will surely beseech Hashem on your behalf if you follow in his hospitable ways.  But you can only do that if you actually have a Makom Kavua!  "Kol HaKovei'a Makom L'Tfilaso, Elokai Avrohom B'Ezro."

All that not withstanding, if you are a guest in a Shul, it probably isn't Mentchlich to come early and plop yourself down in the seat that suits your needs best.  Better to go over to the Gabbai and ask him if he can recommend an empty seat for you sit.  You may need to wait until Borchu, but it is a small price to pay for a little Sholom.  Then maybe your grandfather Avrohom and even Aharon HaKohen will have a few nice words for you as well.
RELATED ARTICLES:Avrohom Avinu  davening  hachnasas orchim  makom kavua  observation  shul  tefila

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Visitor Comments: 2

MB, London, 2010-02-20 12:25:56
A young teenager whos parents were killed by the Nazis escaped to Switzerland. He went into an Orthodox synagogue. No-one welcomed him, but he was told he cannot sit in the seat. All others were booked. He walked out of the shul depressed. He then married out. Only years later he tried to return to Judaism. His wife and kids converted. All this trouble because they wouldn't let him sit in their shul seat. That guy is now my father-in-law.
IA, 2012-08-10 08:28:10
Rav Yochanan Zweig shlitoh, Rosh Yeshivah in Miami, points out that sitting in your Makom Kevua is at most similar to being Mekabeil Pnei HaSchinah. Well, we learn from Avrohom Ovinu that Hachnosas Orchim is greater than being Mekabel Pnei HaSchinah, as pointed out by Rashi at the beginning of Parshas Vayera

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