Inspired by this question.

Can lepers form a Minyan, or is that an inherent contradiction in the status of a Metzora'?

  • 1
    halacha-theory? – Double AA Jul 9 '12 at 23:18
  • I think so. It's about the status of a leper as much as it is about the practical application. – Seth J Jul 9 '12 at 23:38
  • 2
    I think halachah-theory is bandied about a bit much: it's becoming a near-synonym to halacha. – msh210 Jul 9 '12 at 23:49
  • Also, what about a zimun? – msh210 Jul 9 '12 at 23:49
  • 1
    @DoubleAA No need, we have one already. We just need to implement it. – msh210 Jul 10 '12 at 0:16

I think that the answer is yes.

I base my answer on Mishnah N'ga`im 13:12:

נכנס לבית הכנסת, עושים לו מחיצה גבוהה עשרה טפחים על רחב ארבע אמות.‏

נכנס ראשון, ויוצא אחרון.‏

(Informal translation: If [the leper] goes into the synagogue, they make him a barrier [mechitza] ten handbreadths high by four cubits wide. He enters first, and leaves last.)

The commentaries I've seen indicate that the problem is that if the leper is in the same room as someone, he transmits tum'ah (ritual impurity) to the other person.

(So far, BTW, all I've written applies equally to men and women; the Mishnah usually uses the male form for gender-neutral laws.)

In any case, there is no problem, according to this Mishnah, for lepers to be in the synagogue at the same time as other people. I don't think it is a stretch to say that the purpose of entering the synagogue is to pray with the congregation.

Because of other minyan considerations, all members must be present in the same space. So I don't think that lepers and non-lepers can combine to form a minyan, at least not an indoors minyan.

The Mishna seems to say that lepers can pray together with a pre-existing minyan, in shul. Therefore, their isolation doesn't have to be total. That's why I assume they can make their own minyan.

  • 1
    So, to be clear, I'm asking if it would work, ie, if they can be counted among the community, and whether, therefore, they can effectively create a community amongst themselves. You are saying yes? – Seth J Aug 2 '12 at 12:24
  • +1 for the answer, and IMO the content of your comment, JXG, deserves to be in the answer also. – msh210 Aug 2 '12 at 13:19
  • Hmm, I'm still not 100% convinced. It's a good answer, but I'm not sure the thesis follows from the argument. Just because the Mishnah explains what to do if a leper goes to Shul, that does not mean that lepers can form a Minyan. He may be permitted to go, so long as he's still kept separate from the congregation. Maybe he is being allowed to go because he doesn't know the prayers and wants to hear them and answer Amen. Maybe he is allowed to go to hear Parashath Zachor. Maybe he is allowed to go to hear a Shi'ur. The Mishnah just tells us what to do if he goes: still keep him apart. – Seth J Aug 2 '12 at 14:36
  • Very creative idea! I'm not sure though that we wouldn't let him combine to form a minyan over only a ten tefach mechitza; that isn't so different from just a table. – Double AA Aug 2 '12 at 15:53
  • @SethJ, the Mishnah isn't telling us to keep him "apart." The Mishnah is telling us how to prevent a shul-going leper from transmitting tum'ah to the rest of the congregation. (I suggest seeing the Mishnah in context.) It seems to me that if the rest of the minyan were already impure by contact with lepers, there would be no limitations at all. There should certainly be no limitations on how many lepers are in the lepers' section. – JXG Aug 5 '12 at 6:36

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