When There is Only a Bare Minyanum: A Halachic Analysis

When There is Only a Bare Minyanum: A Halachic Analysis 1

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com

It is technically called a portmanteau – and it refers to the inventing of a new word by combining two other words that now carries the combined meaning of both words.  In this portmanteau – the words “minyan” and “minimum” were combined to form “minyinmum”, or rather “minyanum” which is easier on the tongue.

So, if we have license to invent a new definition:  Minyanum – (noun) – A situation when one has only ten people in a minyan.

Now on to the halachic analysis.  [Photocredit Zoya Cherkassky]


One of the repercussions of COVID-19 is that the concept of large minyanim has been set aside by people concerned that they will either catch Corona or, chalilah, give it to others.  There has, therefore, been a proliferation of smaller minyanim.

Some people are either slower daveners, or they come late to the minyan, or both.  If there are only ten people in the minyan and three or four have come late – ideally, those who have come late should skip saying psukei d’zimra in order to recite the shmoneh esreh together with the others and to finish in a timely manner.


Speaking about skipping Psukei d’Zimra, there is something called Minyan begging – when you are missing one or two people and you have to go outside where you are davening and beg for a man or two to join your minyan.  Sometimes they will say, “Where are you up to?” and the Minyan begger must answer.  The question is – before he goes begging, should he say minimum Psukei d’Zimra (i.e. Boruch sh’amar, ashrei) and skip to Yishtabach so that it would not be as bad to talk to the would-be-minyan maker?  Or should he just continue straight through Psukei d’Zimra and talk as needed – and it is not a problem because it is l’tzorech – necessary?

I recently posed this question to one of the top Poskim in the United States and he answered not to skip and that it is l’tzorech.  I asked if I could quote him and he responded, “not by name.”

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Then there is a halacha of how many people does a minyan need in order to start chazaras haShatz.  Ideally, one should not start a repetition of the Shmoneh Esreh unless nine others, aside from the shliach tzibbur, have finished their silent shmoneh esreh.  This is the indication of the mechaber in Orech Chaim 124:1.  The Mishna Brurah says that one cannot count as one of the ten a person who is davening word by word with the Shliach Tzibbur.   Others, such as the Mogain Avrohom (OC 55:8) are lenient with even having seven or six people who have finished the silent shmoneh esreh.


But it is important to note that, the Mogain Avrohom’s position (OC 69:4) seems to be that even when discussing the minimum of six – they must be of people that had davened together.

The Imrei Yosher Vol. II #9, however, is of the position that perhaps besha’as hadchak one can add as one of the six – someone who has already davened.  There is a fascinating responsum from the Minchas Yechiel (Siman 24) which states that when there is a five and five split – one may rely upon an 11th member of the minyan who is a child to count as one of the six.  The author qualifies this, of course, as only in a very pressing situation.


It is unclear, as to the position of those Poskim who require nine others for a repetition.  Is it sufficient to have six from those who have just davened together and three others who davened previously but not with these six?  Do they agree with the Mogain Avrohom of Siman 69 or with the Imrei Yosher?


It is the position of most Poskim that there is no greater Shaas Hadchak than to accommodate and allow a minyan for those people who have legitimate health concerns about davening in big minyanim.  Since many minyanim rely on the Mogain Avrohom in order to maintain their minyan – we can do so here as well.

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Let’s say there are ten people in the minyan and one of them has a particularly long Shmoneh Esreh.  Should the Shliach tzibbur wait for the person to finish?  While it is ideal to do so, there are three factors that come to play.  If there is a chance that the minyan will separate either on that day or in the future – then he should start the repetition regardless.  If it is a tircha for the congregation to wait for him, then the repetition may be said anyway.

If there’s minyan of ten people and one person is praying a lengthy silent Shemona Esheh, it’s preferable to wait for him, however, if there are needs such as if the minyan will separate or if it’s a bother to congregation to wait, they may begin Chazarat HaShatz even though one is still saying Shemona Esreh


There will be times, no matter how much the minyan organizers will try, that some of the people in the minyan will not be answering Amain – for one reason or another.  In such a case, the shliach tzibbur should have in mind that his repetition of the Shmoneh Esreh will be a tefilas nedava – a voluntary prayer.  This, however, does not work on Shabbos, Yomim Tovim or the Mussaf of Rosh Chodesh.  On these days a Korban Nedava was not offered in the Beis HaMikdash.  Even though the Korban Nedava was not offered on Shabbos and there are not nine people answering- he should still recite the Chazaras HaShatz – as long as there are six men who will be answering.

May Hashem yisbarach, hear our prayers to stop the Mageifah so that we can once again serve Him – beRov Am Hadras Melech.

When There is Only a Bare Minyanum: A Halachic Analysis 2

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