Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL


Rabbi Rafi RankDear Cyber Rav,

My husband has been working for an orthodox company during the last sic (sic) months. The employees are all men and every day in the early afternoon Mincha (the afternoon prayers) is davened. My husband, a Conservative Jew, chooses not to participate. Last week the minyan was short one person so my husband offered to be the tenth. The leader of the group said that he could not be counted since he does not observe Shabbat in the Orthodox sense (my husband drives on Shabbat to shul, but does not shop or spend money on Shabbat). I have never heard that a minyan "rejects" a Jewish man based on his level of observance. Can you please elaborate for us?

Many thanks,

Miffed over a Minyan


Dear Miffed,

Hmmm. . .Well, this is sort of a new one for me. It is true that different communities will set standards that are above and beyond the requirements of Halakhah (Jewish law), but I've never heard of a Jew excluded from a minyan on the basis of insufficient religiosity. My suspicion is that there is virtually no basis for this in normative Halakhah and, even worse, it was probably an aveirah (a sin) to have him excluded. Let me explain.

Halakhah is, in part, a system of obligations which we fulfill as we concretize our Jewish relationship with God. Some of those obligations require prayer on a regular basis. The Halakhah obligates your husband to pray daily, whether he does or doesn't. Your husband's offer to pray with a minyan was a combination of several mitzvot. First, he was going to participate in prayer; secondly, he was going to pray in a minyan which is regarded as a higher act of holiness than praying alone; and finally, he was going to help others fulfill their obligations. In denying or even discouraging him from participation in that minyan, someone actually forces him into sin, which is itself a sin according to the Halakhic system.

Frankly, this so-called minyan sounds like a group of not-so pious people. Traditional and observant Jews would normally welcome with great joy a Jew who is a bit more marginal to come closer to mitzvot and God. I'm so sorry your husband had to endure this. I noticed a bit of a slip on the keyboard when you typed that he has worked there for "sic months." I hope his work experience has been healthier than his Jewish experience with this company.

Rabbi Rafi Rank


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