Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why Ten Men For A Minyan?

It's always interesting to see what we take for granted, what we don't give two seconds of thought to. When I saw the title of this article it struck me that I didn't know something so basic - it dawned on me... how much is out there that I don't know. This is what they call in the university world "lifelong learning". Something we should all do.

Why Are Ten Men Needed For a Minyan? - Prayer

My two cents on this -
The 'ten' is related to the ten (of twelve) spies that Moses sent into the Land of Israel that returned with a bad report about the Land. As a result, the Jewish People were sent to wander in the desert for the next 40 years till the older generation died off and were replaced by the next generation.

The 'men' part is important since this is so misunderstood. When the bad report about the Land was brought back by the spies, there was a general mourning by the Jewish People. However, it was not all of the Jewish People who went into despair, just the men. The women did not. These are the same women who are credited for bringing the Exodus from Egypt. It was in their merit that the Jewish People were redeemed by G-d. They would not have fallen into despair, certainly not by a bad report, when they had such a high level of faith in G-d. These women of the Exodus entered the Land of Israel - while the men of the Exodus did not.

Men (rather than women) are needed for the minyan in order to rectify the sin of the spies (men) and of the men who despaired after the bad report. The spies used their power of speech to denigrate the Land. This is no small misspeak. The Land of Israel is G-d's gift to the Jewish People. By misusing their speech in such a way requires tikun - rectification. The tikun here is the minyan - ten men - using this same power of speech to sanctify G-d's Name. The minyan is a public forum - the same way that the spies pronounced their report publicly to the whole Jewish People. The spies denigrated the Land in public, men today must sanctify G-d in public.

Of course we know that women need to pray, but only men are required to participate in a 'minyan'. It is not more holy for a woman to be part of a minyan - it doesn't even make sense for her to do so. It is a come-down. The women of the Exodus were spiritual giants - they didn't fall for the spies' story so why would women today be part of a tikun that we weren't part of making?

Just a thought.

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