Question & Answer With Rabbi Dovid Sears - Minyan
A Simple Jew asks:
The requirement of a Minyan for Tefilah is derived from the story of the Spies. Why is something so fundamental to our relationship with G-d, such as Minyan and davening, derived from an incident of such failure?
Rabbi Dovid Sears responds:
It is indeed an anomaly. Usually we do not derive halachos from evil or wrong actions. I am sure the meforshim discuss this, however I don't have time to look. Please forgive me.
A speculation: the Meraglim / Spies were not truly reshaim, and their "eidah" had a certain kedushah, despite their erroneous conclusion. In fact, the Midrash Tanchuma states that they were tzaddikim before they set out on their mission and only lost that status when they failed their "test."
The Arizal explains that the Meraglim did not want to enter the Holy Land precisely because of their devotion to Hashem. Kabbalistically, their neshamos were from the "World of Thought," and Eretz Yisrael represents the "World of Speech" -- a lower madreigah. They could not understand how Hashem could really want them to set aside their lofty meditations in order to serve Him through the things of this mundane world, such as agriculture and the burdens of building a nation, etc. Therefore, their minyan was not truly an unholy assembly, but only a misguided one. They did not yet grasp the revolutionary idea of the Torah that the things of this world exist in order to be sanctified -- to serve as what Chabad calls a "dirah be-tachtonim," a dwelling place for HaKadosh Borukh Hu within the limitations of 'olam-shanah-nefesh / space-time-soul.
Thus, we derive the requirement of ten men for a minyan from the incident of the Meraglim not only because of the hekish of "tokh-tokh" (the way Chazal link the two subjects), but because there really is an intrinsic connection. Maybe we can also say that tefilah is more connnected to the "World of Thought" than the "World of Speech" (even though we use speech in davenning) -- because it reaches to the 'Olam ha-Atzilus, the "World of Thought." In the Siddur ha-ARI, this corresponds to the Shemoneh Esreh. This is why we must daven the Shemoneh Esreh in an inaudible whisper (a condition regarding which the Zohar is extremely strict -- see Be'er Heitiv ("le-hashmiya' "), on Orach Chaim 101:2, and even more strongly the Sha'arei Teshuvah ["le-aznav"], same place).
When we pray, we use the holy quality of the Meraglim, which is that of thought and silent deveykus; when we perform mitzvos and help people and improve the world, we rectify their fault.