Mazaltov to Fiona and Seth Belson on Esther’s Batmitzvah on Shabbat Shemot
The Mogain Avrohom (commentary to the Shulchan Oruch) explains that it is a Mitzvah to davan at a Shul that is at a considerable distance from your home (and not necessarily at a holy establishment that you merely full out of bed and you find yourself in your seat in Shul [my words incidentally]). The reason for this is because a person merits “sechar pesios” a reward for walking to Shul to pray and the more steps a person takes to arrive at Shul the greater the reward. But it has to be said that a person has no obligation to take a walk to Shul within his town that is longer than 72 minutes.
However when the nearest Shul is the one that has the greater number of people davaning there, then it is better and more of a Mitzvah to pray there.
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l writes that even though it is a Mitzvah to davan at the more distant Shul, nevertheless when one arrives at the Shul itself, he should always come into the Shul building through the nearest entrance, to demonstrate his desire to be in a hurry to serve his Master, Hashem.
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l writes that it is better to davan at a Shul where the service of the heart (ie. the praying) is with kovonoh (intent and devotion) than davaning at a Shul or Bais Hamedrish
where the davaning is done quickly and without sincerety. This Halocho even extends itself to the extent that even if a person were to leave the service early in such a Shul, it is still better to pray in such an establishment than davaning quickly and lacking kavonoh in another minyan. The reason for this says Rav Shlomo Zalman, and a certain Dayan zt”l who will all know, is because, it is better to say a few prayers with kavonoh than saying many many prayers without any kavonoh.
It is a special Mitzvah to davan in a Shul where there is a lot of people, unless of course in such a crowd of people you were not able to hear the repetition of the Amidah (the standing prayer) and the reading from the Sefer Torah, for then it would be preferable to davan in one’s own house with a minyan. However Rav Elyashiv zt”l once commented that if a person was on… read more
Shuls are specially designated places conducive for prayer to be accepted. Therefore a person should do everything within his capabilities to davan in Shul even if he is under forced circumstances that will mean he will be davaning by himself, he should rather prayer in Shul by himself than anywhere else. Someone who has a Shul in his town and does not davan there is called a Shochain Ro (a bad neighbour). Davaning with a congregation in Shul is better than davaning with a minyan in a private house. However when for some unfortunate reason there is no minyan at the Shul then it is preferable to pray with a congregation in private premises than davaning by yourself in the Shul.
It is not possible for children to establish for themselves their own Minyan for davaning as a congregation and for reading from a Sefer Torah even if it is for the good of their own education, unless there is at least ten boys who are 13 or over. The Medrish Yalkut Shimoni writes that when Hashem revealed His presence to Avrohom Avinu, Avrohom was sitting at the entrance to his tent. Avrohom tried to stand up but Hashem told him not to trouble himself because in the future his children (his descendents) of 3 or 4 years old will be sitting in Shuls and Batai Medrish (study halls) whilst He, Hashem, will be standing over them. As it says in Tehillim 82 “Hashem stands in the congregation of G-d.”