Making a Minyan: Yesod in Chesed
[img_assist|nid=212|title="Scream" Roller Coaster at Magic Mountain|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=500|height=374]
Shabbat was the 6th day of the Omer (Arpil 25-26, 2008).
May that part of me that is broken in Yesod in Chesed be healed.
On Wednesday I took my kids to Six Flags Magic Mountain outside Los Angeles. We are visiting family in LA, on vacation, why not?
My kids love roller coasters. I had no illusion that I would go on all the rides with them. But I had not expected to become sick from riding one. Indeed I thought I was taking precautions by only going on coasters that my kids had already ridden, and even then, only after querying them, "What's the nausea factor on that one?". It turns out that "nausea factor" is not a universal and/or cross-generational unit of measure. I managed to avoid having to bow down to the porcelain goddess, but I was not a happy camper.
My kids were appropriately concerned, but graciously accepted my offer to not participate and be the backpack and sweatshirt holder while they ticked off one ride after the next.
By the very end of the day I had recovered to the point of being able to go on one last ride. It was an old-fashioned "log-jam" ride where you ride gently in a hollowed out log with the falls at the end and a splash of water. Just my speed.
Dinner that night was with my brother and sister-in-law in the Pico-Robertson area. We arrived there before my brother-in-law got home from work. The phone rang. It was someone from the synagogue calling to see if Sandra could help them make a minyan (the quorum required for public Jewish prayer). With no forethought at all, I found myself shaking my head "no." Sandra explained that she had out-of-town guests.
She hung up the phone. I turned to her and said, "I feel guilty. Maybe we should go to the minyan." She said, "Let's go." Within three minutes we were at Beth Am on La Cienaga making the minyan with three of the four of us counting in the quorum. My daughter had recently celebrated her bat mitzvah (the age at which you start counting for purposes of a minyan).
The residual ill-effects of having my brain rattled and rolled earlier in the day completely dissipated during that service. Participating in the service brought me down to earth.
A minyan is a powerful institution. It proclaims that a community will gather, every day, more than once, to join together, face east together, to affirm that we human beings are not the center of the earth, that we are committed to something beyond ourselves.
I applaud Conservative Judaism for affirming the ongoing relevance of minyanim (plural of minyan) at the same time that women are counted in Conservative minyanim.