Torah Thoughts on Parashat Emor 5782
By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky
We find the following verse in our parasha, “You shall not profane My holy name, and I shall be sanctified in the midst of the children Israel—I Adonai who sanctify you” (Leviticus 22:32). Regarding this concept of God being “sanctified in the midst of the Israelite people” we find an interesting comment in the Talmud, “From where is it derived that an individual may not recite kedusha alone? As it is stated: “And I shall be sanctified in the midst of the children of Israel” (Leviticus 22:32), any expression of sanctity may not be recited in a quorum of fewer than ten men (Brachot 21b). So, our sages learned from the verse in this week’s parasha that the kedusha, the sanctification of God’s name that we recite during the repetition of the Amidah, must be said with a group, not alone.
How many people do you need to form a “group,” so you can recite the kedusha? You need 10 people, a minyan. The sages learned that on the same page of the Talmud quoted above. Using one of the rules of rabbinic interpretations, they compare our verse with another one of the stories of Korach (Numbers 16:21) from which the minyan is derived. So, just as that point in the Torah refers to ten people, so in our verse the group must be 10 people.
From here we learn how much the Jewish tradition values each person individually. Nine great Torah scholars or nine righteous people cannot form a Minyan. However, ten simple Jews, neither learned nor pious, do constitute a Minyan and together can sanctify God’s name through the kedusha. Each person is counted in himself/herself, and not in terms of his/her knowledge, wealth, or other personal traits. Under God, we are all equals, and we all possess infinite value.