7

This is a follow-up on this question.

Let's say that the 10th person who came into the shul turned out to be a Gentile. No one asked him anything when he came in.

You took out the Torah on a Monday, put in on the table. The gabbai approaches the stranger and asks him, "Are you a Cohen?" The man says, "No, I'm a goy. What's a Cohen?"

Oops! You had no minyan to start, and public Torah reading requires a minyan. You can't find another Jew for the 10th person, and since most of the men have to get to work, they won't wait around. The Torah is now out on the table and you're not supposed to "embarrass" the Torah by not using it once it's out of the ark.

Should you read from it without a bracha? How much should you read - the regular Monday parsha reading? Is just doing hagbah good enough? Or should you just return the Torah to the ark?

  • 1
    perhaps if you cannot find a tenth bar mitzvah age or older male is there someone above the age of 9 who is of a maturity level of "bar daas" that you can count for your 10th? if not then read the entirety for "that day" but without a bracha and no breaks where the aliyas would normally be. I don't have a written source for this which is why this is a comment but seems to be correct from discussions on this topic I've had with several rabbis. – Dude Nov 3 '15 at 3:44
5
+100

This article from Daily Halacha by Rabbi Eli J Mansour discusses the case where the torah service started with a minyan and then somebody left. In that case, he writes (without citing sources, unfortunately):

This Halacha [referring to continuing after you've started the first aliya] applies only if a Minyan was present when the first Oleh began reciting the Beracha of “Asher Bahar Banu.” If the tenth man left while the first Oleh recited “Barechu,” before he began reciting the Beracha of “Asher Bahar Banu,” the Torah may not be read.

If even for the case where you started with a minyan you would stop if you lose the minyan before the opening b'racha is completed, then it seems logical that if you never had the minyan in the first place you would not continue past this point upon discovering the problem.

This article from DinOnline addresses the question of reading l'hatchilah without a minyan for the purpose of educating minors. It cites the Mishnah (Megillah 23) for saying that a minyan is required to read torah. It then addresses this chinuch case and says that you still shouldn't but there is room for leniency without the b'rachot. It then adds:

[A] number of commentaries understand that the reading from the Torah is considered a davar she-bikdushah specifically because of the recitation of Barchu and the blessings before the Torah. This is stated by the Meiri, by the Kesef Mishnah, and by others.

According to this, reading from the Torah without Barchu will not be a problem, even where ten men are not present.

(It goes on to talk about reading for learning versus reading as d'var sh'bikdushah, but I don't think that applies in your case.)

This article from Torah Musings by Rabbi Michael Broyde talks about women's torah readings (without b'rachot) and argues that it is inadvisable but not strictly forbidden.

Since the lack of the minyan was discovered before the torah reading began, according to the first you don't read and according to the second and third you might be able to read without the b'rachot (though this is not advised).

None of these address what to do with the sefer torah that has been taken out but cannot be used. But the cases of both the school and the women's group do, of course, use a scroll, so those are cases where, l'hatchilah, a sefer torah is read from without performing the mitzvah of kri'at torah.

Possible counter-argument to which I have no answer: the children and women are still Jews, while the gentile is not. Maybe that makes a difference.

Conclusion

This is my own reasoning based on the above.

If you knew you didn't have a minyan then you wouldn't have taken out the torah, but you discovered the problem too late.

There are cases where, strictly speaking, you can read from a sefer torah without a minyan, without b'rachot (education of children, women's readings), though it is not advised l'hatchilah.

Halacha is generally more lenient for a b'diaved situation, and honor is due to the sefer torah that is already out.

My conclusion: read a minimum amount from the sefer torah for the explicit purpose of education, without b'rachot, and then put the scroll away and proceed as normal when you lack a minyan.

Finally, take steps to reduce the chance of a recurrence. Instead of waiting for the start of the torah service to ask a visitor to accept an aliyah, consider asking anybody you don't know whether he is a kohein, levi, or yisrael as soon as possible after he arrives.

  • 1
    A very thoughful answer. A slightly offtopic addition: as a gabbai I would also leave, so as to 'break' the minyan myself, so that nobody needs to feel embarrased. It happens in our shul that there are exactly 10 men present, one or two of who who are in the process of giyur. The prevent people looking around who the 'goy' is, I break the minyan myself – RonP Nov 2 '15 at 15:44
  • Great research. A few people that I asked concur with your citing / reasoning stating that you should read without the brachot, though, they didn't mention the "chinuch" aspect. I assume that it was their reasoning on finding a way to make use of the Torah that was taken out. At any rate, while the sit. is rare, I reminded the rabbi to inquire early of any "foreign 10th man" who enters our shul - even if he dons payot and a shtreiml. ("Crazies" do occasionally roam the neighborhood!) – DanF Nov 2 '15 at 19:32
  • @DanF thanks. A non-crazy, normal man in the process of girut might well look like that, but nonetheless would not yet count for the minyan. – Monica Cellio Nov 2 '15 at 19:37
  • Sadly, in Israel, such "crazies" can be terrorists. B"H it hasn't YET happened in the U.S., but I fear that it may. – DanF Nov 2 '15 at 19:44
  • @MonicaCellio My pleasure. I still need to review your linked article to gain better context. Your "sidebar" suggestion of how to approach strangers (answered on a related question that I posted,) was terrific. I wish we had this type of problem in our shul more often. Sadly, our minyan "pool" is rapidly depleting. Shabbat and Sunday mincha, lately, have no minyan. I hate to say it, but we need moer members' relatives to die, as that's the only incentive for them to come to daily minyan. And, maybe kaddish to be "forever" instead of 11 months. – DanF Nov 4 '15 at 18:57

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