Minyan for a Davar sheBiqdushah

There are tefillos including Qaddish, Qedushah, Borkhu, that are labeled a “Davar sheBiqdushah“, literally: “a matter that is in holiness”. The way we usually study the halakhah, it is said that a minyan is required to recite a davar shebiqdushah. Which is why we don’t say (e.g. Qaddish) when davening without a minyan.

I am going to propose an entirely different framing.

Because as those who learn Arukh haShulchan Yomi saw in today’s learning, it is not exactly true that you cannot say a devar shebiqdushah without a minyan. Rav Yechiel Michl Epstein writes (AhS OC 55:7):

כלל גדול הוא בדין זה: כשהיו עשרה, ויצאו מקצתן באמצע, דגומרים ענין זה עם הקדיש השייך לזה ולא יותר. כגון שבאמצע פסוקי דזמרה יצאו מקצתן – גומרים עד ״ישתבח״ ואומר קדיש…

There is a great principle in this law [of when Qaddish is said]: If there were ten [men] and some left in the middle, that one finished the topic with the Qaddish that is associated with it, and no more. For example, if in the middle of Pesuqei deZimra some of [the minyan] left in the middle — you complete through “Yishtabach” and say Qaddish

In the situation the Arukh haShulchan describes, Qaddish is said even though there is no minyan at any point during its recital. It is said as the coda of a section of prayer that had a minyan, not requiring a minyan in-and-of itself.

Similarly, when discussing Qaddish deRabbanan, it’s not about needing a minyan for Qaddish, it’s about saying Qaddish after a minyan learn. From se’if 5:

כתב הרמב”ם בסדר התפילה בנוסח הקדיש: כל עשרה מישראל או יותר, שעוסקין בתלמוד תורה שבעל פה, ואפילו במדרשות או בהגדות, כשהן מסיימין אומר אחד מהן קדיש בנוסח זה… והוא הנקרא קדיש דרבנן. עד כאן לשונו. ומבואר מדבריו דדווקא עשרה שלומדים ביחד יש רשות לומר קדיש זה, לאפוקי אם פחות מעשרה לומדים, וכל שכן אחד כשלומד. ולפי זה יש לגעור באנשים כשיש להם יארציי”ט, לומדים בעצמם איזה פרקי משניות ואומרים קדיש. ואסור לעשות כן.

The Rambam writes in his Seder haTefillah in [his introduction to] the wording of the Qaddish, “Any ten or more Jewish [men] who delve in studying Oral Torah, even midrashic or aggadic works, when they finish, one of them says Qaddish with this wording… And that is called Qaddish deRabbanan.”

It is understood from his words that specifically when it is ten who learn together that there is permission to say this Qaddish. To the eclusioon of fewer than ten who study, and all the more so if only one studies. Therefore, one should stop men who, when they have a yahrzeit learn some chapter of mishnayos by themselves, and then say Qaddish. It is prohibited to do this. …

So, it would seem to me from the example of Qaddish that the relationship between a Davar shebiQdushah and Minhan is the reverse of our opening assumption. It is not that these prayers require a minyan, it is that they are said on having the opportunity to do something — a section of prayer, learning Torah — as a minyan.

Perhaps this is even hinted at by the language of the idiom. We do not call these prayers “Devarim Qedoshim — Holy Matters”. They are “Devarim shebiQdushah — matters that are in holiness”.

This would mean that when the gemara says (Berakhos 21b):

וְכֵן אָמַר רַב אַדָּא בַּר אַהֲבָה: מִנַּיִן שֶׁאֵין הַיָּחִיד אוֹמֵר ״קְדוּשָּׁה״? שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל״, כׇּל דָּבָר שֶׁבִּקְדוּשָּׁה לֹא יְהֵא פָּחוֹת מֵעֲשָׂרָה.

And similarly, Rav Adar bar Ahavah said: Where do you know that an individual does not say “Qedushah“? For it says “And I will sanctify Myself in the midst of Benei Yisrael.” No davar shebiqdushah should be with fewer than ten.

It is saying that the holiness that G-d creates when “in the midst of Benei Yisrael” is being acknowledged and emphasized with our saying “Qedushah“. And this is why the halakhah is based on “veniqdashti — I will sanctify Myself”, and not based on a pasuq about us sanctifying Him.

The qedushah is in our coming together as a minyan, a community united in Avodas Hashem. And that justifies saying Qaddish, Qedushah or Borkhu. It is not that you need a minyan for Qaddish, you only say Qaddish to celebrate the holiness of a minyan!

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  1. Eliezer Eisenberg says:

    Good thoughts. I, from a more “yeshivisheh” perspective, would say that devorim shbikdusha require a environment of a chalos kedusha. Once that environment is created, it persists.

    • In the next se’if (#8), the AhS writes about a minyan that evaporates in the middle of leining. They finish the 7 aliyos, but maftir is a new inyan and there is no minyan for it. Even though the maftir would be immediately after leining, like a Qaddish would be.

      Rather, I think Qaddish is uniquely a closing ceremony, and therefore it alone depends on the minyan of the section being closed. Still, it is called a davar shebiqdushah like Borkhu or Qedushah. Which implies that the idiom “davar shebiqdushah” is not referring to the qedushah of Qaddish itself creating the need for minyan. And thus by parallel the other tefillos. (As I noted — this is more consistent with the “shebi-” anyway.)

      What you call your “more ‘yeshivisheh’ perspective”, I would say it really more Brisker. “Chalos” is a way to abstract halachic categories away from any prior logic. It is very much a “Vos?” framework rather than the “Fahr vos?” I was working within.

      To me the focus of the post was the idea that the qedushah under discussion is that of the minyan, of people coming together, not of the prayer or learning. This is why I put the post in my “Other-Focused Orthodoxy” category.

      Something that should have gone into the post (and maybe will in an edit, if you agree) is this quote from R’ Shimon:

      היינו, שנהיה אנחנו בחירי יצוריו, מגמתנו תמיד להקדיש כוחותינו הגופניים והרוחניים לטובת הרבים, כפי ערכנו, ולדעתי כל ענין זה נכלל במצות ה׳ של ״קְדֹשִים תִהְיוּ.״

      Qedushah comes from people committing to do Hashem’s work.

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