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    Communal prayer – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why does prayer require a minyan?

    A. Judaism believes in both individual and community prayer. The definition of community for this purpose is ten, since the Torah (e.g. Gen. 42:45, Ex. 18:21, Num. 14:27) regards ten as the basic social unit.

    The Mishnah (Megillah 4:3) lays down the prayers that require a minyan; they include Kaddish, K’dushah, Bar’chu and reading the Torah. All are deemed d’varim shebik’dushah – “passages (or prayers) of sanctification”.

    The minyan rule has not only spiritual but social benefits in that it creates a sense of cohesiveness and community. The sages assure us, however, that even without a minyan one is in the presence of God and a person may (and must if necessary) meditate and pray alone (Avot 3:6).

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