July/August 2015 – The Congregational Quorum
According to the rabbis, congregational worship was always preferred to private devotion because it enabled one to respond to the reader’s call to worship and for the mourner to recite Kaddish. As you know, a minyan is a minimum of ten adult Jews. The number ten came from the first verse of Psalm 82, which reads: “God standeth in the congregation of God.” The word edah (congregation) is also applied to the ten spies, who, in the days of Moses reported back on the land of Canaan. During the geonic period, the definition of the minyan was not fixed. Sometimes, the Palestinians recited prayers with only six or seven people present. However, this model did not prevail, and instead, the rule of the Babylonian Jews was adopted everywhere whereby a full quorum of ten was required. While authorities have disagreed throughout our history, congregational practice has usually been uncompromising.
We, here at Temple Beth El, enjoy the support and dedication of our “regulars”, who join together each and every day to ensure that we have a minyan. We extend a hearty “Yaasher Kohakhem” to these men and women who make coming to our morning and evening service a regular part of their daily routine.
But they could use your help. During some months of the year, it becomes more difficult, the summer and winter months are particularly challenging.
Therefore, allow me to not only highlight the problem, but also offer a possible solution. We are blessed with over seven hundred family units in our congregation. Suppose for a moment that you were to attend either the morning or evening service on the day of your birthday. For example, if your birthday is on the 20th of December, then you would attend once per month on the 20th of every month except for December. (You are certainly encouraged to come more often!) With hundreds of families participating, we would never have an issue of being short of a minyan for those who need to recite Kaddish. In addition, you will begin to feel inspired as you join together with others in prayer.
As we enjoy the summer together with family and friends, we also know that Rosh Hashanah will be here before we know it. What a beautiful way to give something to our Temple and community as we look forward to the new year! Please give this some thought. I look forward to seeing you very soon!
Hazzan Martin Leubitz