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QUESTION

Canada

Thank you for your answer regarding saying Mourner’s Kaddish when connecting to a minyan via Zoom. What would be the halakha if the minyan itself was created via Zoom? That is, if all 10 men are in different places, but they are Zooming into the same Zoom room. Will this work for saying normal Kaddish, Barekhu, repeating Shemoneh Esrei? Will it work for saying Kaddish?

ANSWER

As we discussed in that earlier teshuvah, to create a core minyan they all must be in the same geographic space. Thus, a minyan that is formed over Zoom would not be good for Kaddish, Barekhu, and repeating Shemoneh Esrei.

As to Kaddish Yatom – there is a possibility that this can work, and it builds off the discussion we had in that earlier teshuva. If the definition of this kaddish is that it is said in front of, but not as part of, a tzibur, is it possible that it doesn’t even require a minyan at all? Perhaps the 10 that it is said before is a different type of group than a minyan.

Some indications that when the idea is saying in front of 10 that we are not dealing with a classic minyan are:

  1. Sheva Berakhot and HaGomeil are not Devarim Shebikdushah, and yet require 10. The pesukim that the Gemara cites as the basis of this halakha, speak more about berakhot being said berabim, in the presence of many people, i.e., in public, rather than the idea of a corporate entity of minyan (eidah).  – Regarding Sheva Berakhot, see Ketubot 7b – מנין לברכת חתנים בעשרה שנאמר ויקח עשרה אנשים מזקני העיר ויאמר שבו פה ורבי אבהו אמר מהכא במקהלות ברכו אלהים ה’ ממקור ישראל – Notice that the idea of “elders of the city” is not a minyan concept, and certainly the word במקהלות – in gatherings, suggests nothing to do with minyan. Regarding HaGomeil, see Berakhot 54b -אביי אמר וצריך לאודויי קמי עשרה דכתיב וירוממוהו בקהל עם וגו’ מר זוטרא אמר ותרין מינייהו רבנן שנאמר ובמושב זקנים יהללוהו – Notice Abaye‘s formulation “in the presence of 10” and the verses use of the word “gathering.”
  2. Mar Zutra‘s requirement of rabbis is also completely unrelated to the idea of a minyan.
  3. Other cases of public versus community (minyan) – “public” / farhesya regarding martyrdom (Pitchei Teshuva YD 157:7), Chilul Shabbat in front of 10, and the importance of having 10 for megillah, where Rema (OC 690:18) raises the possibility that women can count towards the 10. Mechaleil Shabbat and megillah certainly aren’t about Devarim Shebikdushah. They are about public desecration of Shabbat and pirsumei nisa in front of the masses.

This returns us to Kaddish Yatom. Since, as we have shown, it is similar to Sheva Berakhot and HaGomeil in that it is about saying in front of 10, not being a part of the 10, it would stand to reason that the 10 here is not about a minyan. Nevertheless, the fact that it is a Kaddish suggests that it is like the other Kaddeishim and requires a minyan. What’s more, the name and the parallel text to the other Kaddeishim would indicate that it is a Davar Shebikdushah and require a classic minyan.

Whether Kaddish DeRabanan is a Davar Shebikdushah is a major debate in the poskim. See the source sheet, here.

Thus –

  1. If it is Devarim Shebikdushah and requires a classic minyan, then this minyan cannot be constituted by Zoom.
  2. If the need for 10 by KaddishYatom is not based on Devarim Shebikdushahboth possibilities present themselves:
    1. It is possible, against the parallels that we presented above, that it nevertheless requires it be said in the presence of an actual minyan.
    2. On the other hand, it is possible, for the reasons cited above, that this is something said not before a minyan, but berabim, in public.
    3. If it is a concept of rabim/public, then it is additionally possible that this would allow the 10 to not to be in the same room, and that it would suffice that they all connect via Zoom. For them to be a minyan, a corporate entity, they all have to be together. For the Kaddish to be said in public, this could suffice to count as being in public.

As a matter of practice, I would allow Kaddish Yatom to be said in front of a minyan created by Zoom, when there is a significant need for this. As we have seen in the age of the coronavirus, the inability for mourners who have just lost a relative to say Kaddish, and also those who have been saying Kaddish all year, can create serious anguish. This is a concern at all times, and especially when people are isolated. Given that there is no berakha levatalah in kaddish, I would rely on our arguments above to allow it in these and similar cases.