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.

  • 1
    Igros Moshe OC 1:23
    – sam
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 3:28
  • I doubt I'll get a response but is this question concerning an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist?
    – user6591
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 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. Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 20:36
  • See also judaism.stackexchange.com/q/56913
    – msh210
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 17:02

1 Answer 1


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.

  • 1
    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
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 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. Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 20:37

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