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I remember reading a responsum on the issue of agnostic Jew's serving as the tenth for a minyan, but do not remember the outcome. Does anyone know the rule?

Also, do we count, as the tenth man, a tinok shenishbah and one who does not understand the prayers at all?

  • If it is permitted, would it be different for a lower level of chiyuve (obligation) for a minyan such as Maariv?

  • If it is forbidden, would it be different for a higher level of chiyuve for a minyan such as Zimun, or someone who has a chiyuve for kaddish.

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Igros Moshe OC 1:23 – sam Jul 30 '13 at 3:28
I doubt I'll get a response but is this question concerning an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist? – user6591 Nov 2 '14 at 22:38
I think I originally asked about atheists and someone changed the question, but this is a hypothetical (though common occurrence in many places I have been) so I would like to know opinions for both. – Yaakov Pinsky Nov 3 '14 at 20:36
See also judaism.stackexchange.com/q/56913 – msh210 Mar 30 '15 at 17:02
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Sam gave this source in a comment last year, but no-one ever came to post an answer, so i'll do that now...

In Igrot Moshe OC 1:23, he paskens that בשעת הדחק - in an emergency, someone who is publicly Mechallel Shabbat can be counted for a minyan, to say Barchu, Kadish, and Kedusha. However, for Torah reading, it is more important to have 10 religious Jews.

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Two points. Reb Moshe was discussing a michalel shabbos as you mentioned and made a comparison to a kopher a point you left out which is probably important being that we can all be left wondering if an agnostic is comparable to a true kopher or a michalel shabbos. Second, are you sure he said what you wrote about Krias Hatorah? – user6591 Nov 2 '14 at 22:20
Thank you, answer still does not refer to someone who does not know what he is answering as he does not know the language etc. – Yaakov Pinsky Nov 3 '14 at 20:37

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