From a Minyan to a Tzibbur – The Need for Complaints

It was on Erev Yom Kippur and the gabbai of the Shacharis minyan made a seemingly innocent plea for Mechila on behalf of himself and the other Gabbaim. Unfortunately I had been recently learning the sugya of Mechila in preparation for my Rav’s Shabbos Shuva pilpul shiur. Unfortunate because I now understood that a blanket request for Mechila was probably worthless and in the eyes of some a poor substitute for not doing a more conscientious job.

Because this particular Gabbai is a true Baal Mussar and Ben Torah, I emailed him with my thoughts on his Mechila request. I told him that my impression was the he was running a minyan with no memberships, and he had every right to set the rules, and all those who wanted to daven by those rules where more then welcome to come. In such a situation, given that you’re not outright embarrassing or insulting someone, no Mechila is necessary. He was a little taken aback, and although there was no minyan improvement process in place, the intention was for this to be more than a place to daven, it was to be a place for the daveners. What he was telling me was that he wanted to change from a minyan to a tzibbur.

When it comes down to it, a minyan is a place for davening, while a tzibbur is a place for people. I took the Gabbai at his word and gave him three potential improvements, which from a different perspective could be viewed as three complaints. After thinking about it further I came to the conclusion that the main thing that distinguishes a minyan from a tzibbur are the complaints. In a Tzibbur the members are the group and therefore they have a right to express their opinion, which are often perceived by the leadership as complaints.

I’m not sure if the Shacharis minyan should make the transition. The people are generally very happy with the minyan. It takes work to build a Tzibbur and perhaps a weekday only minyan doesn’t have the necessary commitment. I’ll keep you posted.

One thought on “From a Minyan to a Tzibbur – The Need for Complaints”

  1. In my humble opinion, the difference between a minyan and a tzibbur is kesef: the willingness to pay money, sometimes a lot, for the necessary expenses of a tzibbur (rental or purchase of a building, air conditioning and heating for comfort, electricity, premises maintenance, etc.). Workplace minyanim can go on for thirty years and never become a tzibbur, because no one’s ever making a financial commitment (i.e., the workplace itself is providing the davening space and the amenities).

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