The Meraglim and Counting Torah Desecrators as Part of a Minyan


shul bimahIn this week’s parsha we read about the episode of the meraglim – the spies. At the onset, the meraglim were actually great leaders among the Jewish people, but sometime during their mission they veered from their greatness and ultimately denied Hashem publicly. Interestingly, the episode of themeraglim is the source that a minyan requires ten adult men. We learn this through the Torah’s use of the word toch. Just as the word toch is used to refer to the ten meraglim it is also used in reference to devarim shebekedusha, teaching us that ten men are required in order to recite such prayers. The Igros Moshe (OC 1:23) notes that the meraglim were essentially kofrim i.e. Torah desecrators. We learn from here that just as the meraglim were nevertheless counted towards a minyan, so too, we can also count Torah desecrators as part of a minyan.

This week’s journal will focus on numerous halachos regarding mumrim, those who are not properly Torah observant.

Do You Need To Tovel New Utensils Sold By A Non-Religious Jewish Company?

The Halacha is that any food utensil you purchase from a Goy must be Toveled in a Mikva before you use it. What about utensils purchased from a Jew who is Mechalel Shabbos B’Farhesia – who publicly desecrates the Shabbos? Rav Moshe Shternbuch (2:403) says that the Hungarian Poskim required tevila. The Chasam Sofer disagreed and said that it is not necessary to tovel them since someone who becomes a Ger requires tevila but someone who becomes a Baal Tshuva does not. The Chasam Sofer reasons that the utensils of a Mechalel Shabbos should not be worse off than his body and therefore do not require tevila either.

Rav Shternbuch takes issue with the Chasam Sofer and says that a distinction can be made that when someone becomes a Baal Tshuva we don’t want to remind him of his aveiros and therefore do not embarrass him by requiring him to go to a mikva. On the other hand concerning a Mechalel Shabbos who sells utensils we do want to remind him that halacha requires us to act with him with all the stringencies as if he were a goy and therefore we should require tevila for utensils sold by him.

Nevertheless says Rav Shternbuch we need not be machmir for other people since it is only MiDrabanan and most non-religious Jews have the status of a Tinok Shenishba (a captive child unaware of his being a Jew) and not a Mechalalei Shabbos B’Farhesia. If one wants to machmir for himself he should only be machmir by metal utensils.

Can a Jew Who is Married to a Non-Jew Count Towards a Minyan?

The Shulchan Aruch (OC 54:11) says anyone who has committed aveirios can be counted for a minyan provided that he wasn’t excommunicated.  Adds the Pri Migadim that this applies only if the aveira was committed for sheer pleasure (L’Tei’avon) but if he committed aveiros spitefully (L’Hach’is) he cannot be counted.

In the case of a Jew marrying a gentile, although this would be considered L’Tei’avon and he was not excommunicated, nevertheless says the Sridei Eish, he cannot be counted for a minyan since he deserves to be excommunicated.  The fact that today Bais Din does not wield the necessary power does not let him off the hook.  Therefore we view him as if he were excommunicated and exclude him. (Chashukei Chemed – Shabbos 116a)

Disclaimer: We have attempted to convey the above Tshuvos to the best of our ability. We admit that our understanding may not be accurate. Please also understand that these Tshuvos may not be the final word on this topic. One should consult a rav before drawing any conclusions.


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  1. you seem to be concerned with “selling/ “purchasing”. When the main point is who manufactured it. If Yid manufactured it and a mechallel Shabbos sells it, are you saying he should tovel it with a bracha?