Judaism has an interesting concept called a minyan, a prayer quorum, special prayers sanctifying Hashem's name, such as the Kedusha (sanctification prayer) and Kaddish prayers, may only be said when ten men are present. An individual may pray in solitude, but without a minyan, certain parts of the liturgy must be omitted.
The Talmud derives the requirement for a prayer quorum from Hashem's declaration. "I will be sanctified in the midst of the Israelites" (Vayikra 22:32). What exactly does the word "midst" mean?
We Find the word "midst" used again when Hashem warned the people living nearby the dissenters in Korach's rebellion: "Separate yourselves from the midst of this eida [community]" (Bamidbar 16:20). From here, the Sages learned that Hashem is sanctified within an eida.
And what is the definition of eida? The Torah refers to the ten spies who brought a negative report of the Land of Israel as an eida ra'ah, an evil community (14:26). So we see that Hashem is sanctified in a community of at least ten members.
The requirement for a prayer quorum, and the way it is derived, raises two issues that need to be addressed:
Prayer appears to be a private matter between the soul and its Maker. Why should we need a minyan of ten participants in order to pray the complete service?
Why is the requirement for a minyan derived precisely from two classic examples of rebellion and infamy - the spies and Korach?
Perfecting the Community Holiness is based on our natural aspirations for spiritual growth and perfection. However, the desire to perfect ourselves - even spiritually - is not true holiness. Our goal should not be the fulfilment of our own personal needs, but rather to honor and sanctify our Maker. Genuine holiness is an altruistic striving for good -- for its own sake, not out of self-interest.
The core of an elevated service of Hashem is when we fulfil His will by helping and uplifting society. Therefore, the Kedusha may not be said in private. Without a community to benefit and elevate, the individual cannot truly attain higher levels of holiness.
This special connection between the individual and society is signified by the number ten. Ten is the first number that is also a group, a collection of units forming a new unit. Therefore, the minimum number of members for a quorum is ten.
Learning from Villains
Why do we learn this lesson from the wicked? It is precisely the punishment of the wicked that sheds light on the reward of the righteous. If the only result of evil was that the wicked corrupt themselves, it would be unnecessary for the law to be so severe with one who is only hurting himself. However, it is part of human nature that we influence others and are influenced by our surroundings. Unfortunately, evil people have a negative influence on the entire community; and, it is for this reason that they are punished so severely. Understanding why the wicked are punished clarifies why the righteous are rewarded. Just as the former are punished principally due to their negative influence on the community, so too, the reward of the righteous is due primarily to their positive influence. Now it becomes clear that true holiness is in the context of the organic whole. And the Kedusha prayer sanctifying Hashem's Name may only be recited in a minyan, with a representative community of ten members.
I have mentioned it before but let me reiterate. The higher spiritual level of the woman and the fact that they were not guilty of the crime of the spies is what releases the woman from the obligation of ten when praying. Like Tefillin and Tallit, women are above these requirements and are not obligated. When a woman wants to wear these items or insists upon being counted in the minyan, she has lowered herself to the spiritual level of a man which, in the eyes of Hashem, is a sin. Hashem made men and women the way he wanted them -- to accomplish their individual missions and purposes within His creation. Changing the pattern out of ignorance is very counter-productive and benefits nobody. To state that man made up these rules is admitting to the ignorance since no man wants to lower his spiritual level but would prefer to be at the level of women (include me in that group). Hashem knows what He is doing. We need to understand His ways and use them to our advantage. He loves us and did this all for us.