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The current health situation has resulted in restrictions on large group prayers. Minyans have been included in such restrictions.

Though this is the case, certain groups have been shown praying together while respecting the recommended safe social distance between one another. It is basically a regular minyan but everyone is six feet apart to lower disease risk.

This compromise raised a question in me. Is there a Halachally defined minimum distance for a minyan to count? What I mean is, at a certain point (logically) there needs to be a line which defines when a group are still considered a group vs individuals all spread apart. Six feet apart and you are still in a minyan. What about 7 though? Or 8 or 9 or so on?

At a certain point, there would need to be a line where the minyan no longer counts.

It couldn't be intention alone or a minyan over live stream would count. The Rabbis have given no indication this is the case so I'm curious if a minimum distance is defined?

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There are numerous factors that need consideration for a full answer, and every scenario needs a case-by-case analysis. See here and here for a partial treatment.

To answer the specific question of distance - there is no minimum distance that makes or breaks a minyan. However, the Minchas Yitzchok adds two conditions which must be met:

תלוי בשמיעת הש"ץ המבואר (באו"ח סי' קכד), וברואים זה את זה, והיינו אפילו אם המה בשני חדרים לגמרי, ומקורו מדברי הרשב"א (בתשובה סי' צו). ואף דלהלכה יש חולקים ומחמירים וכמבואר שם בשערי תשובה (אות מז), מכל מקום באין מחיצה מפסיק ביניהם, אף שאינם בבית אחד אלא בשדה שפיר יש לומר דמהני רואים זה את זה לכו"ע

A minyan taking place [outdoors] needs to meet two conditions: They must be able to hear the Shliach Tzibbur, and must be able to see each other.

If they are indoors, there is another possible condition [subject to debate between the Poskim] - some require all members of the minyan to be in the same room (without a halachic mechitza); others require at least ten to be in the same room - after which others can be mitztaref from another room; some permit even if the minyan is split between two rooms (as long as there is no public domain in between them).

In the laws of Zimun (where a minyan is required to add the Divine Name אלקינו), ten people are considered a minyan even if they are split between two rooms, provided that they can see each other. The Rashba (Responsa 91) says it's possible this law extends to Tefilla as well:

עוד אני אומר שאפשר לומר שכל שרואים אלו את אלו כאילו הן בבית אחד דמי ומצטרפים. ודומיא דזימון של ברכת המזון דתנן (ברכות פ"ז מ"ה) שתי חבורות שהיו אוכלות בבית אחד בזמן שמקצתם רואים אלו את אלו, הרי אלו מצטרפים לזימון

See Shulchan Aruch (OC 55), with Mishne Beruro (.52) and Biur Halocho (ad loc).

Other authorities disagree - see, for example, Mishkenos Yackov (#75).

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  • There are differences between joining to make up the minyan, or just to pray with an existing minyan. – chortkov2 Apr 3 at 11:45
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    The rashba only says it as a possibility. He doesn't commit to it – Double AA Apr 3 at 12:40
  • @DoubleAA I thought they waved flags because they couldnt hear. – interested Apr 3 at 12:48

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