Who Should Pray and With Whom to Pray


Baby Care instead of Praying

A mother of young children who require her continual attention should skip saying prayers, even for an entire day, if it will take her attention away from caring for her baby.

When You May Nurse a Baby while Praying

If a baby is clean, a woman may nurse a baby while reading Psalms, saying blessings, and saying the shema, but not while saying the amida.

Reason: It is difficult to concentrate while holding a baby.

How Much Effort To Pray with a Minyan

Praying with a minyan is very important and you should travel up to 18 minutes away in order to get to a minyan.

Note: If waking up early will mess up the rest of your day, you do not need to wake up to go.

Example: You may pray by yourself if joining a minyan would cause you:

  • To be late to work,
  • To lose your job,
  • To interfere with your caring for a sick person or someone who needs attention,
  • To injure your health,
  • Financial loss, or
  • Shalom bayit problems.

How Many Men Needed for a Minyan

A minyan is a prayer quorum of 10 Jewish men who are at least 13 years old. At least six of the men must be praying.

Non-Shomer Shabbat Jew Counted in Minyan

A non-shomer Shabbat Jew may be counted as part of a minyan.

Boy less than 13 Years Old

A boy who has not reached 13 years of age may not be counted in a minyan, even if one day short of 13 years.

Large Minyan or Small

In general, praying with a large group of Jews is preferable to praying with a small group.

Reason: A large group is considered to be more honoring of God (b'rov am hadrat melech).

Note: You may pray with a smaller minyan if you are not happy with the large minyan, such as the speed of the service, people talking during the service, or inconvenient timing when you need to get to work.

Prayers that Require a Minyan

Although it is preferable to join a minyan whenever possible, prayer services may be said without a minyan. However, certain prayers may be said (or omitted) only with a minyan present:

  • Bar'chu (morning and night),
  • The word “Eloheinu” in the birkat ha'mazon introduction,
  • Kaddish,
  • Kedusha,
  • Reader's repetition of the amida,
  • Sheva brachot (the seven blessings) at a wedding,
  • Sheva brachot during the week following the wedding,
  • 13 midot in selichot,
  • Torah reading if there will be aliyot, and
  • Skipping the three introductory words for the shema.

Note: A minyan is preferable but not required for a circumcision.


Priority of Synagogue Members

In leading the prayers, members of a synagogue have priority over ANY non-member, regardless of status.  Next in priority:

  • Yahrzeit up to second ashrei;
  • Mourner within 30 days;
  • Mourner after 30 days.

Exception: A mourner from out of town may lead one prayer service.

Minyan Leader Follows Custom of Minyan

Say the entire prayer service (and not just the public portions) according to the custom of the minyan of which you are the leader, even if it differs from your custom.

Copyright 2015 Richard B. Aiken. Halacha L’Maaseh appears courtesy of www.practicalhalacha.com Visit their web site for more information.