Sunday, October 20, 2013

Minyan as a way to politically strengthen the Land of Israel

Guest post: The following is not a typical post for this blog. As the author states, she is not presenting a halachic view but a political one touching on the mitzva of yishuv haaretz.
Why the Minyan?

It takes ten men to say certain prayers in shul. Yet no member of a minyan has a duty to attend. Why, then, opt in to this essential expression of Jewish community? It all goes back to the spies on whom the size of this religious -- and, in many ways, political -- quorum is designed.

In preparation to claim the promised land, chieftains of each tribe were dispatched to "see what kind of land it is, and the people who inhabit it; are they strong or weak? Are there few or many?" Ten of the 12 spies gave reports so discouraging that the people considered dissolving their nation in favor of returning to slavery in Egypt.

Those ten fearmongers were excised and our nation survived the episode. But, today, if the tables were turned, and enemies peered over our shul walls to discover the strength of Am Yisröel, would those spies run in fear or find our Beit Knessets all but abandoned?

My recent visit to the old city of Akko, recounted in Gather the Jews last week, suggests the latter. Granted, rock-solid communities of faithful men abound around the world. But, what if Jews stopped to consider that their presence at a minyan constituted not just an act of group worship but a political statement, too? Our houses of prayer might brim daily to overflowing with platoons of tefillin-wearing chieftains.

Where no halakhic authority exists on the point, who am I to say whether HaShem wants you consistently in a minyan? What I do know is that people take their cues from leaders. And where ten leaders cannot take the time to convene daily in defense of their nation, what can any of the rest of us be expected to pledge toward its survival?

Lisette Garcia, J.D., is a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) consultant in Washington, D.C. She attends Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, a 15-minute walk from the U.S. Capitol.

1 comment :

  1. For many years I organized political protests, rallies and demonstrations, many of them outside the White House, and at places where world government leaders were meeting.

    Through this activity, I arrived at an understanding of what a Minyan is.

    A Minyan is the ultimate political expression. Nimrod said "Let us make a name", that is, "make a name for ourselves". Avraham "called in the Name of Hashem", that is, he promoted the Name of G-d. These two approaches collided and culminated with Nimrod putting Avraham into a furnace.

    The Midrash says that this same oven was used to fire the bricks for the building of the Tower of Bavel, the ultimate expression of the fame of Man.

    Avraham came out alive from the oven.

    When ten men gather, and one says the Kaddish and the other nine answer, we carry on the work of Avraham, promoting the name of Hashem.

    Through realizing the futility of trying to act politically by addressing world leaders interested in elevating their own names, I gained an appreciation of how great an opportunity I have to attend a Minyan morning and evening and to sanctify the Name of the King of the Universe.


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