Sunday, October 14, 2007

A minyan of lepers?

The gospel reading (Luke 17.11-19)for today (10/14/07, Pentecost 20) is interesting on several levels.

The one I've been pondering is the question of the minyan. The pericope recounts the story of 10 lepers who are cleansed by Jesus. 10 is interesting because this has 10 is traditionally the number needed for a synagogue's minyan, the number of men needed to have proper prayers. The number has not been fixed throughout history; some rabbis argued that only 6 were needed, some 7, etc.

I wonder if this was not in the back of Jesus' mind when he said (Matt. 18.19-20), "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." In other words, when even 2 or 3 are gathered together, Jesus' presence is among them and in their midst.

What I'm wondering is whether the group of lepers were a minyan for prayers. I would appreciate input on these questions:

1. Were lepers given any access to the synagogue services during the time of Christ?

2. If they were not given access to "regular" synagogue services, could they constitute a minyan for prayers?

3. Would a Samaritan have been able to participate in the regular Jewish synagogue services?

4. If so, could the Samaritan have been a part of the minyan for prayers in a Jewish synagogue?

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