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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Bechukotai – The Rosh Yeshiva Responds – Counting a Security Person in Another Room as the Tenth for a Minyan

by Rabbi Dov Linzer (Posted on May 30, 2024)
Topics: Bechukotai, Rosh Yeshiva Responds, Sefer Vayikra, Torah

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וִֽישַׁבְתֶּ֥ם לָבֶ֖טַח בְּאַרְצְכֶֽם

and dwell in your land safely (Vayikra 26:5)

QUESTION—Houston, TX

We pray out of the JCC and are required to have a security person at the door when the building is otherwise closed, which includes Shabbat. For financial reasons, we use rotating volunteers, but sometimes, like for Mincha, we have ten men, and only ten men. Other times, there are exactly ten men as well as women, but the optics of requiring the guard to be a woman are rough. The security person can just barely see into the shul room from the back door of the room where we daven. Maybe the last person in the room can see them. Can that security person be the tenth, bediavad or lekhatchilah?

ANSWER

The Shulchan Arukh (OC 55:14) rules that a tziruf (inclusion) for minyan can be achieved even if a person is outside the room/outdoors if he can be seen by those inside. This is based on the established ruling by zimmun that if some of the group can see some of the other group, it is one group for zimmun (Shulchan Arukh OC 195:1). While some argue against the comparison and are stricter by minyan (mentioned by Mishnah Berurah 55:52Mishnah Berurah 55:57, see Arukh HaShulchan OC 55:20), the accepted psak is to rely on Shulchan Arukh when necessary. I should stress that you have to situate a man (yes, man) in the room inside so that he can see and be seen by the man outside. That is key.

It is not fully clear to me why you can’t arrange a system that a man always takes this job when there are more than 10 men, and a woman when there are exactly 10 men, assuming that it winds up being about an equal division. But I am sure that there are reasons why this won’t work. Whatever the case, if you deem it important to sometimes have a man do the job, then yes, you can definitely follow the ruling of Shulchan Arukh, but with the criteria above—a man within the room must be able to see and be seen by the man designated as security guard.

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