Monday, April 19, 2010

Making the minyan* (prayer quorum)

In general, the only time I go to prayer services is on Shabbat and that is really only for social reasons. With work keeping me busy during the week, I like to go to synagogue to see my friends, hang out a bit and catch up with everyone.

So the times that I do attend services during the week are few and far between(I could count the times in the past few years on one hand). I just don't believe in prayer and services during the week don't really have the pull of being quasi-social events like they are on shabbat. In any case, I was attending an event last week where there were exactly 10 men. When it came time to pray, it was just assumed that everyone was going to join since everyone was needed to make the minyan. So I got stuck praying mincha* and a little later on maariv*.

I felt really weird because I don't like praying and this was more of a forced prayer. Sure, I could have stood around and not said the words (which I did do to some extent), but I just felt like I would have much rather have been enjoying the event instead. It doesn't bother me if other want to pray, I just don't like being forced into it.

The other thing I was wondering about was whether the other 9 would have wanted me to count as part of their minyan if they knew my feeling about prayer. Do you think they would have wanted to know this info and then wait for another chance to pray later? Do you think they would want someone to be a part of their minyan who doesn't believe the words they are saying are doing anything or have meaning?

I once heard a big time rabbi say that a man can be counted for a minyan as long as he does not categorically deny God. Under those conditions, I guess nobody could really have any issue with me being part of the minyan.

Any thoughts?

Minyan - a quorum of 10 men required to say certain parts of prayer that require such a group
Mincha - afternoon prayers
Maariv - evening prayers.