(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis
AUTHOR: Russell Hendel (firstname.lastname@example.org);
DATE: Wed, 13 Nov 1996
SUBJECT: Re: Minyans
SUBJECT2: Re: Gezayrah Shaveh
TRADITIONAL APPROACH: The traditional way of learning that a minyon requires
10 men is as follows: The talmud cites two biblical verses
...And I will be sanctified in the _community_ of Israel..(Lev22:32)
..How long will this evil _community_ (referring to the spies)(Nu 14)..
The GS (gezayrah shaveh) method says that we have a tradition going back
to Moses that the common words in these two verses _community_ have the
same meaning. Since the evil spy community numbered 10, therefore, we
infer, that for purposes of sanctification,(like a minyan) we also require 10.
In summary, the focal point of the GS method, is to transfer meaning between
two verses by using a common word, this transfer being a _tradition_ handed
SUGGESTED MODIFIED APPROACH: We can however enrich this method with a
a logical component if we first search the Bible for numbers denoting
__completeness__. Examples of such numbers are...
(a) 7---e.g. a complete week is 7; a complete set of Shmitah years is 7;
the completed candelabra had 7 flames; etc. (b) 10---e.g. the complete set
of plagues in Egypt was 10; the complete set of commandments revealed at
Sinai is 10; the number of rebellions required to "seal" (=complete)
the punishment of the Jews in the wilderness was 10(Numbers 14) etc.
Other numbers denoting completeness could also be found. The point is that
WITHOUT the GS we would logically argue that the number of people required
for a minyan should be "some" number denoting completeness; we therefore
should take one of the Biblical numbers denoting completeness.
So a minyan should be either 7 people or 10 people or any other number
At this point (without the GS) we do not yet know "which" Biblical number
denoting completeness should be used. What the GS does is select one of the
Biblical numbers and it does this by a tradition. We can in turn convey this
tradition by citing one of the verses showing that this particular number of
completeness is used in this context.
Thus we might as the talmud does cite the evil spies who formed a community
of 10; or we might cite the Sedom and Gemorah story. The main point of this
modified approach is that the GS tradition is picking one out of many meanings
by exemplifying it with a verse. In other words the GS is not just
juxtaposing two verses..it is rather selecting one of many meanings.
One more example might help: The Bible in Deut 24:1 speaks about "taking" a
wife" Let us apply the above method of analysis.
In step 1 we research the possible meanings of "taking". A glance at the
Dictionary (Radack) shows us it can mean e.g. military taking, physical
transfer,...or buying--- commercial taking. In step 2 we use a tradition
that tells us that Deut 24:1 interprets taking a wife "in the commercial
sense". In step 3 we exemplify this choice by finding another verse where
taking is commercial (Gen 23:13).
The advantage of the modified approach over the traditional approach is that
this new modified approach also encourages logical research into meaning.
Russell Jay Hendel, Ph.d, ASA, email@example.com