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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Question 9.12:
What is the reason for a "minyon" (a quorum of 10 men requried for certain prayers)?


Note that the requirements for a minyan are not biblical in origin. The reasons are rabbinic. The following are some sources:

Note: If one cannot scrape up 10 minyan-qualified individuals (traditional Judaism only accepts adult men; Conservative Judaism often accepts women as well, particularly in the more egalitarian groups; Reform also accepts adult women), one can count the Torah as part of the Minyan. One can also count a minor holding a chumash, as long as the group looks like it could be 10 until you bother counting them. This is based on Tractate Berachos 47b. The source is that Abraham first begged G-d to save Sodom, Gemorra and 3 smaller towns if they had 50 people. He then fell back to 45. Apparantly, therefore, if you can't get 10 per city, you can rely on 9. But this is only if you can not possibly scrape up 10. One commentor also noted that besides the Torah, a member of the group can also free a slave. However, this generally doesn't make sense in the modern world. Nine people, with no Torah or slave, however, can never actually be a Minyan.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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© (c) 1993-2002 Daniel P. Faigin <>