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  • Torah Reading: Naso
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Minyan of Ten

I was involved in a discussion with a friend and a question came up that we had no answer to: Why does a minyan have 10 people? What is the significance?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Ten people for a minyan is derived from a passage in the Torah.

Upon leaving Egypt, Moses appointed 12 men to spy out the land of Israel to see what the land was like. Upon their return, 10 of the men falsely reported that Israel was "a land that devours its inhabitants." This report caused a national hysteria. The remaining two spies, Joshua and Caleb, did not join in with the lies of the other 10.

The 10 spies enraged God, who decreed that the Jews must wander in the desert for 40 years. Upon spelling out the decree, God said, "How long will this evil assembly provoke complaints against me?" (Numbers 14:26 and Rashi) The word "assembly" refers to the 10 spies.

The Talmud infers that just as here the word "assembly" refers to 10 people, so too a minyan - which is an assembly - also requires 10 people.

There you have it - simple Talmudic logic!

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