Image: A woman in a minyan, praying. (Yochi Rappaport/Wikimedia)
A minyan (MEN-yahn or meen-YAHN) is a quorum for prayer, consisting of ten adult Jews. Liberal Jews count all genders for a minyan; Orthodoxy counts only males for a minyan.
A minyan is required for certain important Jewish prayers and activities:
- PUBLIC PRAYER: including Kaddish, Barechu, Kedusha, and Repetition of the Amidah.
- DUCHANEN: the traditional service for the Priestly Blessing. (Num. 6:24-26)
- TORAH AND HAFTARAH READINGS: And for their blessings, which are in the Barechu format.
- SHEVA BRAKHOT: The seven wedding blessings.
- BIRKAT HAMAZON: Certain parts of the blessing after meals may only be said with a minyan.
According to the Jerusalem Talmud, Megillah 4:4, the sources in Torah for the tradition of the minyan are:
“Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: You shall be holy.” – Leviticus 19:2
“How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who murmur against me?” – Numbers 14:27
Both verses refer to the congregation (adah.) In the first, the congregation is the Hebrew people whom God commands. The second verse refers to the ten spies who brought back a timid report after exploring the Land of Israel. From the combination of the two verses, the rabbis drew the conclusion that a minimum of ten adults was required to represent the People of Israel.
Because a group of ten is required to say the full prayer service, it has become common to refer to any group that meets regularly for Jewish prayer as a minyan:
- “I’d be glad to have coffee with you after minyan.”
- “Our minyan meets at 6:45 am on weekdays.”
3 thoughts on “What is a Minyan?”
Although not Jewish, I was asked several times to serve as part of a minyan when my Jewish friends fell short of the required number after funerals, and I was honored to do so.