Who Knows Ten?

by Arliene Botnick, April 27, 2022

Who knows 10? This is the name of a delightful book we use in our religious school and it’s also a question I’d like to ask you today. What is the significance of the number 10 in our tradition?

Most of us would know that there are 10 Commandments, 10 plagues, and 10 scouts who returned from investigating the promised land, giving Moses a very negative report on the chances of the Israelites being successful in their campaign to defeat their enemies. Some of us might know that Laban changed Jacob’s wages 10 times (Gen 31:7). More of us would probably know that Abraham’s bartering with God over the fate of the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah stopped if 10 righteous could not be found in those two cities. And those of us who might study the Kabbalah know about 10 sefirot (emanations) through which God reveals God’s self to humankind. It is fairly obvious that the number 10, just like the number seven and the number 40 have deep roots in our tradition.

There’s one other 10 that I hope everybody knows about, and that’s the number 10 that is needed in order to form a minyan. And that number 10 is the one that I’d like to focus on now. If there aren’t 10 Jewish adults (and of course that means anyone regardless of gender 13 and older) present at a service, some key prayers cannot be recited. Ten represents community and the community has to be represented for a full service to take place, for the Torah to be read, for the Barchu and Kedusha to be sung, for the Mourner’s Kaddish to be recited. And for any of us in mourning, the recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish is both so comforting and imperative.

So today I’m asking you not only to know 10 but to be one of the 10, to be one of the 10 not just at a regular service but at that very special service that has been Solel’s custom to have each Tuesday morning at 7 AM. I am asking you to join our breakfast minyan once again, as it was before Covid, each Tuesday at 7 AM. It’s a wonderful opportunity to start the day with prayer, to make sure there is the opportunity for anybody in mourning to recite the Kaddish. The breakfast is sponsored by all the attendees, in rotation, each Tuesday morning. I’m hoping that at least 10 of you will let me know that you are willing to join or come back to minyan, at least occasionally, in September, when I am optimistic that we will be able to eat safely with one another with minimal concerns about COVID! I’m hoping we can begin meeting on September 13 at 7 AM and we can continue each Tuesday, praying together and having a lovely breakfast together. For those of you who have to be at work, by 7:45 you can be out of the synagogue and on your way to work. The service is led by lay people and occasionally Rabbi Pollack and Rabbi Englander. Please consider this request, and I am hopeful that we will be at least TEN on September 13! And I am volunteering to sponsor the first breakfast!

Filed under: Educator's Message

« Read more articles