May a Deaf Person be Included for a Minyan?


Someone close to me once told me they chose Reformed Judaism because deaf people were excluded from Orthodox Judaism Minyans and that person thought the Orthodox cruel (the opposite of loving kindness) for excluding them.

SO, the question beckons: Why aren’t deaf people accepted/admitted as participants in prayer groups of 10 (Orthodox Minyans)? What in the Torah states clearly that deaf men cannot participate and what is the main, most widely accepted rabbinical opinion for the reasoning? Why not?



  1. It sounds to me as if there has been a misunderstanding as to how Jewish Law defines “deaf”. When the word “deaf” is used in the Talmud and the Code of Jewish Law, it refers to someone who is both deaf and mute. Such a person is exempt from Mitzvah observance and cannot be included as the tenth person in a Minyan. The reason is that such a person is assumed to not have the understanding required for a person to be obligated in a mitzvah.

    However, the Talmud in Tractate Chagiga 2b teaches that a deaf person who can speak, or a mute person who can hear is considered completely fully-functioning regarding Mitzvah observance. The Code of Jewish Law rules according to the definition found in the Talmud.

    Since Talmudic times there have been incredible advancements in special education and there have been authorities, ranging from one hundred and fifty years ago until today, who are of the view that someone who is both deaf and mute but who is capable of communicating can be included in the count for ten men to make up a Minyan.

    Best wishes from the Team