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May I Have A WORD With You? – TEN

TEN – עֲשָׂרָה – Asar
I will not destroy, for the sake of the ten. (Genesis 18:32)

In one of the greatest negotiations in recorded history , God agrees to ‘save’ Sodom and Gemorrah if Abraham can find TEN righteous people. Well, we know how that story ended … and have been left with this number, TEN – עֲשָׂרָה – Asar, guiding our understanding as an interesting metric for communal veracity and viability.

We are probably most familiar with the idea that TEN – עֲשָׂרָה – Asarpeople are needed for a Minyan … that designation which permits the reciting of specific prayers or rituals. Our tradition suggests that TEN – עֲשָׂרָה – Asar is the number of people best suited to create, make or hold enough sacred space to comfort a mourner, welcome a child and celebrate the covenant between two souls.

We could questions the merits and meaning of TEN – עֲשָׂרָה – Asar … How did that number came to be significant? What is the minimum number needed to create this kind of space in time? What number would be better suited to life in the 21st century?

I am more drawn to the questions about the kind of space in time that TEN – עֲשָׂרָה – Asar purports to create. In a fractious and unsettled moment in the world, I find myself craving the kinds of communities — even if temporary – that cradle and empower me. In a time in which a handful of large voices can dominate and diminish civil discourse, I yearn to be reminded of the presence and be held by communities that preserve and inspire. If it takes only TEN – עֲשָׂרָה – Asar then I feel we can actually wield some power against the voices and forces that appear so powerful. If it takes only TEN – עֲשָׂרָה – Asar then I feel a little more safe and a little more hopeful.

Even when faced with two of the most despicable places described in all of human literature, Abraham believed in the power of TEN – עֲשָׂרָה – Asar. Perhaps this model of faith is a place for all of us to start responding to what we face and what we want our world to become.

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