Latest update: May 17th, 2013
What emerges from this discussion is that a child can be counted for a minyan in times of great need.
Another relevant point: We find the following in the Gemara (Berachot 47b): “It once happened that Rabbi Elazar entered a synagogue and did not find a minyan present [i.e., only nine men were there]. Thereupon he freed his [Canaanite] slave [who had accompanied him] and included him in the requisite quorum of 10.” The Gemara asks: How could Rabbi Elazar have freed his slave? Didn’t R’ Yehudah say, “Anyone who frees his slave violates a positive command” based on Leviticus 25:46: “l’olam bahem ta’avodu – you shall work with them forever”? The Gemara answers that “for the purpose of fulfilling a mitzvah, it is different.” The Gemara then asks, “But isn’t this is a mitzvah accomplished through violating a sin?” To which the Gemara responds, “A mitzvah on behalf of the larger community [mitzvah d’rabim] is different.”
Now take into account these two practices – counting a minor for a minyan and violating a prohibition by freeing one’s slave to constitute a minyan – and compare them to a Sabbath desecrator who is present in a synagogue. Also remember Rabbi Hodakov’s words, cited earlier, “At that moment, when [the mechallel Shabbat] leads the congregation, is he desecrating Shabbos?” Keeping this in mind, surely there is sufficient reason to allow a mechallel Shabbat to lead the services. We don’t even have to wait for him to reach maturity or free him from slavery to do it!
(To be continued)
About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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