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My First Minyan…almost

Posted by jbharp on March 13, 2007

From the website Judaism 101, a note about the minyan. 

A complete formal prayer service cannot be conducted without a quorum of at least 10 adult Jewish men…This prayer quorum is referred to as a minyan (from a Hebrew root meaning to count or to number). Certain prayers and religious activities cannot be performed without a minyan. This need for a minyan has often helped to keep the Jewish community together in isolated areas.

I went to the Thursday morning minyan at Temple Shalom last week. But according to the description above it wasn’t quite a minyan. The number 10 is based on Abraham’s intercession for Sodom in Genesis 18, when he plead with God to spare the city if 10 righteous people are found. But on Thursday morning with only six people initially present and eventually growing to eight, the headcount never reached the double digit threshold. Women were included in the count. However, I was not.

It was explained to me that portions of the prayer service could not be conducted unless there were at least 10 people present, and I was kindly told that I could not be counted since I was not Jewish (righteous). After the eighth person came in, glances towards the door kept hoping for more partakers as we went through the portions of the service that were permitted with less than 10 present.

When the eighth Jewish person came in, a quite exclamation came from a lady sitting in front of me, “Oh good. We only need one more.” A quick, non-threatening correction came from her neighbor, “No. Two more. We can’t count Jared.” I was’t hurt from this. Though I am not Jewish, scripture tells me that I have been made right (Act 13.39, Rom 4.5).

The prayer service lasted about 45 minutes. I visited with a man briefly after the conclusion, telling him that I was Christian and came to the service because of my interest in Judaism. He told me the difference in the two religions is very simple to understand. Basically, Paul took the establishment of Judaism, told the Jews that if they believed in Jesus all of their sin would be taken away, and the law is now useless. That was the end of the conversation as we all sat down for a small breakfast.

The breakfast consisted of sandwich rolls with cheese and some chocolate mini-donuts. For 30 minutes I sat eating, listening to a few of them talking about their families and work. Half way through my cheese sandwich as I pulled away a bite, my teeth also pulled out a half eaten piece of paper that wrapped the slice of cheese. Quickly grabbing the paper and wading it up, I hoped no one saw me. If they did, no one said anything. As I left the temple that morning I would love to say my thoughts were “spiritual,” but I found myself wondering if paper was kosher.

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2 Responses to “My First Minyan…almost”

  1. Justin said

    I need to fix your friends interpretation of Paul really quick:

    Paul took the establishment of Judaism, told the Jews that if they believed in Jesus all of their sin would be taken away, and the law is now useless remained a Torah observant Jew.

    Much better. 😉

  2. jbharp said

    Good correction Justin.

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