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QUESTION

Brooklyn, NY

Zoom questions: Counting in a minyan for Sheva Berakhot? Either way, leading a berakhah?

ANSWER

What a good question. I have dealt with it several times already. It depends on whether you think that the 10 of Sheva Berakhot has a din of a minyan, or of rabim. If the latter, I think Zoom could work. But if the latter, then women should definitely count, so I think you need to be consistent (you can decide which way).

As to leading a berakhah, let us assume you have a minyan at the location. The issue would be is it more like Chatzi Kaddish, where the Shaliach Tzibur is saying it on behalf of the kahal and has to be in the same room, or is it more like Kaddish DeRabanan, where the mourner is saying it in the presence of, but not on behalf of, the kahal (evidence to this being that we don’t say it if there is no mourner)? For the Kaddish DeRabanan/Yatom model, I think that Zoom is enough. So what is the story here? Are Sheva Berakhot in the presence of the kahal or on its behalf?

Logically, I would say it’s in the presence. I don’t see evidence to define it as a chovat tzibur. The pesukim in the Gemara (Ketubot 7b) strongly suggest this as well,

מנין לברכת חתנים בעשרה? שנאמר: ויקח עשרה אנשים מזקני העיר ויאמר שבו פה. ורבי אבהו אמר: מהכא: במקהלות ברכו א-להים ה’ ממקור ישראל.

The idea is presence. This is very comparable to Birkat HaGomel, which is also about the presence of a tzibur, and the pasuk is very similar–see Berakhot 54b,

אביי אמר: וצריך לאודויי קמי עשרה, דכתיב: וירוממוהו בקהל עם.

So, if that is the case, I think one can combine via Zoom for Sheva Berakhot, just as I do for Kaddish DeRabanan/Yatom.

I should say that here, too, once it is not about representing the tzibur, then even if we define the tzibur as 10 men, it should be allowed to be said by a woman just like Kaddish DeRabanan/Yatom and Birkat HaGomel.

I personally believe that is true, that halakhically a woman can say the Sheva Berakhot. I am less certain about counting as the 10, although I do understand the argument in favor of it.