Junior Minyanim: Yes or No?



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    Junior Minyanim: Yes or No?

    Background image: Dov Ber Hechtman

    Question: I live in a community where there is a nice Shul for Anash to daven. I had an idea to start a “Junior Minyan,” where the children can — in addition to davening — participate more in the minyan by being gabai and chazzan, etc.) and maybe even invite children who are less frum to join. There are those in the community which are hesitant about it and I  was wondering if the Rebbe ever encouraged such activity? Rabbi Gerhon Avtzon Answers • Full Article

    Junior Minyanim: Yes or No?

    Question: I live in a community where there is a nice Shul for Anash to daven. I had an idea to start a “Junior Minyan,” where the children can — in addition to davening — participate more in the minyan by being gabai and chazzan, etc.) and maybe even invite children who are less frum to join. There are those in the community which are hesitant about it and I  was wondering if the Rebbe ever encouraged such activity?

    Answer: Yasher koach for taking such initiative. As we will see, the Rebbe was strongly in favor of creating such an atmosphere of Davening for younger children. The following are a few letters that the Rebbe wrote on this topic:

    “The Opponents Are Not Acquainted With the Rebbe’s Teachings”

    (1) Rabbi Zalman Serebryanski was a passionate and devoted Chassid that lived in Melbourne, Australia. He was from the founders of the Yeshiva there and was very active in all educational and community matters. In 5717 (1957), he had an idea to establish a youth minyan and a summer camp for young children. Some local Chassidim had certain objections to these ideas. He wrote to the Rebbe and received this emphatic reply:

    “It is well-known that the deciding factor in these types of questions is by reflecting on the results of the actions (as explained in the HaYom Yom of 23 Sivan), i.e., to see if it leads to additional involvement in kedusha (holiness). Anything preventing things that lead to additional involvement in kedusha, must be coming from the animal soul. It is without question that the summer-camp and (youth) minyan are from the special tools to inspire the children and also reach their parents.

    The Rebbe then explains the source of the hesitancy of  some of the older members of Anash in the Melbourne community: 

    “Many of these Chassidim lived for many years in a land that is physically very distant from the Rebbe. They did not hear — and many did not receive — the sichos of the Rebbe where he emphasized the importance of inspiring the youth (young girls and women included). Even what they did hear, did not really “reach them” (and become internalized) because they were not used to this new approach and thus, are not giving these ideas the proper consideration”. (Igros, Vol. 14 p. 156; #4912).

    “Children in America get Excited by Being On a Team”

    2- Rabbi Tzvi Schusterman was a well-respected Lubavitcher rav in Chicago. In 5715 (1955), he organized a youth minyan and wrote about it to the Rebbe. The Rebbe responded the following: 

    “It is a very good idea to have the youth minyan, which allows the choice of a gabbai and shamash from the ranks of the youngsters themselves. It is well known how excited children in America get when they are involved with activities connected with a team that has a leader and captain.” (Igros, Vol. 10 p. 45; #3009).

    3- On a similar note: In 5721 (1961), a young teacher wrote to the Rebbe about some of the issues she was having in managing her classroom during davening time. The Rebbe responded with this piece of advice: “We clearly see that things improve when you appoint the children themselves to be part of the management of davening through helping out with distributing the siddurim (similar to the role of the gabbai and shamash in shul). The improvement of behavior is not just during davening, but also before and after davening. 

    The Rebbe adds the following advice on the implementation: 

    “It is also self-understood that it is a good idea to have a rotation of these responsibilities from amongst the students in intervals that are fitting with their abilities.” (Igros, Vol. 20 p. 42; #7487).

    The Moshiach Connection

    One of the standard characteristics of a youth minyan are the songs and niggunim that fill the davening. Chassidim, in general, have always included niggunim in their davening, and on Shabbos Shiar 5752 (1992), the Rebbe connected this to our avodah to bring Moshiach: 

    “There is an additional and essential lesson from all this, regarding incorporating song into davening … The Alter Rebbe used to pray out loud and with song. … Besides for the type of song which is connected with elevation from below to above, now, after all the elevations have been completed, the function of song needs to be attachment and inclusion in the Supernal. This mode of song serves as a preparation and beginning of the “Shir Chadash ­—  the new song” of the future to come”

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