The gabai stands outside the door of the synagogue on a city street and asks passersby whether or not they have prayed mincha or maariv (the afternoon or evening service). He does so neither to satisfy his curiosity nor to conduct a survey on the prayer customs of the people of his city. He wants to complete a minyan (a quorum) - ten Jewish men over the age of thirteen – so that it will be possible to pray.
He gathers the men one by one and begins to count. He does not count, “one, two, three” out of concern for the Evil Eye (In the days of King David, we already see that numbers were not used to count the people of Israel (Samuel II:24). Rather, they were counted with the verse, “Hoshiya et amecha uvarech et nachlatecha ure’em venase’em ad olam” (Psalms 28:9)*. The gabai points to each man that he has assembled: “Hoshia et amecha” and when he reaches the word “olam,” the ten men burst into prayer.
“Do we have a minyan?” proposes an alternative minyan, more heterogeneous and less selective. In this work, ten individuals that comprise a minyan were gathered together. The work examines the tension between the awesome universality of the verse “Hoshiya et amecha” – “amecha” includes everyone, young and old, man and woman, kippa wearer and non-kippa wearer – and the selectivity that the gabai demonstrates when he tries to gather ten men for a minyan.
Are the people in the picture worthy of completing a minyan?
Are they worthy of the salvation we all ask for?
In brief, do we have a minyan?
*Deliver and bless your very own people;
tend them and sustain them forever.