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MBY 55:1-3 Laws pertaining to ‘Kaddish’ and the formation of a minyan (part 1)
What Jewish male over Bar Mitzvah would not love to walk into shul and be greeted with, “You have just made the ‘minyan’!” What is the source of the concept of ‘minyan’, and when is a ‘minyan’ required? The Torah states (Vayikra 22:32): ‘…V’Nikdashti b’soch B’nel Yisrael’ (“… and I will be sanctified amidst the Children of Israel.”) The Sages of the Oral Law derived from this verse that whenever Hashem is sanctified through the recitation of ‘devarim she-bik’dusha’ (lit. “holy words”), it must be done in the presence of a “representative sample” of the Jewish adult male population. Based on a different source, this sample number is ten. What exactly constitutes ‘devarim she-bik’dusha’ is one of the topics of our siman. For the purpose of our current discussion about ‘Tefila’, it certainly includes: ‘Kaddish’ (see Artscroll Siddur, p. 82), ‘Kedusha’ (p. 100), ‘Borchu’ (p. 84), Torah reading (pp. 138-148) and ‘Birkas Kohanim’ (the formal Priestly Blessing, which is recited only on holidays – see pp. 692-700.) By ‘Kedusha’, we imply as well that the ‘Chazaras haShat”z’ (the repetition of the ‘Shemoneh Esrei’ by the ‘chazzan’), which contains the ‘Kedusha’, may not be recited unless there is a ‘minyan’. Practically speaking, then, a congregation can begin its ‘Shacharis’ service without a ‘minyan’, and continue all the way until the end of ‘Pesukei d’Zimrah’, without really missing any essentials. (Note: Granted, it is customary in many shuls for mourners to recite several ‘Kaddish’-es before ‘Pesukei d’Zimrah’ begins, but these are not required by halacha.) However, in order to proceed with ‘Kaddish’, ‘Borchu’ and eventually experience a ‘Tefilah bTzibur’ (communal davening at the time of ‘Shemoneh Esrei’), there will have to be a ‘minyan’ present. (Ed: Please read this carefully: Sometimes there is a minyan in the room, but not all are davening together. Let’s say that six are davening together, but the other four are not, e.g. some of the four may have already davened, others may have arrived late and are still trying to “catch up”. When that happens, we have a ‘minyan’ but we don’t have a ‘minyan’! Indeed, this group is authorized to recite ‘Kaddish’, ‘Kedusha’ and ‘Borchu’. However, if, at the time of the silent ‘Shemoneh Esrei’ they are not all davening together, they do not achieve the true ‘Tefilah b’Tzibur’ about whose virtue and power over individual ‘Tefilah’ our Sages speak. Unfortunately, this distinction is not widely known and should be regarded by one who is a perpetual late-comer or a “catch-upper”. With no harm intended, any one person may be responsible for withholding true ‘Tefila b’Tzibur’ from the congregation! Please consult MBY Siman 52 for valuable instruction on how to catch up and join the congregation for ‘Shemoneh Esrei’!)

By the way, this raises the obvious question: Is it an ‘aveira’ (sin) to walk out of a ‘minyan’? In some cases, it sure is; it is big enough to warrant the “curse” of the Sages, ‘v’Oz’vei Hashem yichalu’ (“Those who abandon Hashem will be destroyed!”) This implicates two kinds of people: one, whose leaving diminishes the minyan (even if he had previously davened that day with a minyan); and another, who is presently davening with this minyan, and he leaves before the davening is over (i.e. before the ‘Kaddish’ after ‘Aleinu’) without a good excuse. If one is neither one of the ten, nor presently davening with this minyan, he is permitted to leave at any time. (Note: In the former case, where he has already davened with a minyan and is now just helping the others with theirs, he is obligated to remain only until the end of the particular section of the davening they are currently in. Please see below for the delineation of the sections.)

Question: What if a ‘minyan’ was present for the ‘Half-Kaddish’ and ‘Borchu’ after ‘Pesukei d’Zimrah’, but then it “walked out” – what happens now? The same question can be asked if the ‘minyan’ walked out during the repetition of the ‘Shemoneh Esrei’, or at some later point in the service. Must everything come to a screeching halt?
Answer: Good news – here we have the “minyan-grandfather-clause” (terminology mine!) If there is a minimum of 6 men left (i.e. a bare majority), they may finish whatever section they have begun, as if there is still a ‘minyan’. Question: What are the sections? Answer: Let us answer that question for ‘Shacharis’ and for ‘Maariv’, respectively: Shacharis - If the ‘minyan’ walked out after ‘Borchu’, there is definitely no true ‘Tefilah b’Tzibur’ for ‘Shemoneh Esrei’, as was mentioned in the editor’s note. ‘Chazaras ha-Shat”z’ (The chazzan’s repetition of the ‘Shemoneh Esrei’) may not be done, nor can any other ‘devarim she-bik’dusha’ in the entire service. - If the ‘minyan’ walked out after the ‘Chazaras ha-Shat”z’ got underway - even before the conclusion of the very first bracha – it may be continued just as if the ‘minyan’ was still present. Not only that, but ‘Kaddish’ after the ‘Chazaras haShat”z’ may be said as well! Which ‘Kaddish’? Two of them – the ‘Half-Kaddish’ after ‘Tachanun’ (or immediately, on a day on which ‘Tachanun’ is not recited – see Artscroll Siddur, p.138), AND the ‘Full-Kaddish’ after ‘u’Va l’Tzion Goel’ (p. 156-158)! If it is a Torah-reading day, the Torah may not be read, nor the ‘Half-Kaddish’ which follows, recited. - Regarding the ‘Mourner’s Kaddish’-es, both after ‘Aleinu’ and after the ‘Shir Shel Yom’ (“Psalm of the Day” – see p. 160), they may be said only if the ‘minyan’ is present for their actual recitation. Maariv There are slight variations with the ‘Maariv’ service, given the fact that a ‘Half-Kaddish’ is recited before ‘Shemoneh Esrei’ and there is no ‘Chazaras ha-Shat”z’. - If the ‘minyan’ walks out somewhere between ‘Borchu’ and the beginning of ‘Shemoneh Esrei’, the ‘Half-Kaddish’ before ‘Shemoneh Esrei’ (p. 266) may be recited, but not the ‘Full-Kaddish’ after it (p. 278) or the ‘Mourner’s Kaddish’ (pp. 280-2). - If the ‘minyan’ walked out after the silent ‘Shemoneh Esrei’ began, the ‘Full-Kaddish’ may be recited, but not the ‘Mourner’s Kaddish’. (Note: On ‘Motzei Shabbos’, this would include the ‘Half-Kaddish’ which immediately follows the ‘Shemoneh Esrei’ and precedes the additional ‘Tefilos’ of ‘Vihi Noam’ (“May the Pleasantness”) and ‘v’Atah Kadosh’ (“You are the Holy One” - pp. 594-598.)

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