Parashat Ki Tisa

Where does the concept of minian come from?


Of course from the Torah. Some take the fact of the merraglim, the spies sent by Moshe to investigate how good the land they were going to conquer would be, as the origin of this mitzvah, since when they returned from the expedition, there were 10 who gave an unfavorable opinion of the Promised Land . And it was the Creator who told Moshe and Aharon "How long will I put up with this perverse congregation that complains about me?" Tradition defined from this passuk that 10 is the number necessary to form a Congregation or Minyan.


There are other sources that reaffirm this interpretation, but, whatever it may be, it is clear that there is a need, beyond the mandate regarding the Minyan, to form a nucleus, a network of support among the members of each Community. And probably, a Community that does not confirm minyan, could be considered a mere sum of individualities.


Parashat Ki Tisa is no exceptionof these sources. From the request that each person of the people contribute their half Shekel for the construction of the Mishkan, as an essential contribution of each one of the members to ensure that the construction belongs to each and every one of the members of the people. It did not matter how rich or how poor or righteous or transgressive they were, but that each one gave his part. That half shekel that together with another half shekel made up a whole. And each whole added to another whole made up what was necessary to sustain the present and the future of the people.


We had gone through the terrible moment of the construction of the Golden Calf for which there was also a call to all the people to make their contributions, to which no one fled. The people were participatory both for the noble task of construction and for the most punishable moment of all the mistakes they made in the desert.


Even in the moment of supreme anger of the Kadosh BarujHu, when, after the episode of the Calf, he threatens to destroy that stiff-necked people, Moshe did not go and threw everything overboard, but claims this apparently unjust God , do not abandon them; before the divine offer to erase the transgressor people from the book of books (the story would have been strange with the absence of the people and the presence of Moshe, but that is how it was offered) the leader decides to stay with his people and face the adverse moment …always together.


As Masechet Kritut says in the Talmud "Any communal fast in which

the transgressors of Israel do not take part, it is not a valid fast, since the galbanum gave off a bad smell, and even so the scriptures counted it among the ingredients of the incense".


What does Kritut refer to? The incense used in the rituals of the desert and later in the Beit Hamikdash, the Great Temple of Jerusalem, was a complex combination of 11 ingredients, of which 10 had a pleasant aroma and one of them, galbanum, had an extremely unpleasant aroma, that could be perceived from afar. Still, this was the correct combination and the one that made the incense suitable for use in rituals.


All the ingredients were necessary. All the members of the people were too. And all members of our Community are. THAT is the concept of Minian.


“Off-flavouring ingredients” should not be excluded, nor should any “pleasant-smelling ingredients” be specially included, from any community. And no one should feel that they are not part of or that they do not have to support it in any way. We are all an integral and necessary part for things to happen; for the community to continue; so that in the future our children and our children's children can continue to pray here, at home.


Gustavo Geier