Chof Zayin Shvat 5774
Over the course of the centuries, various instances have been recorded in which great sages created human like creatures using combinations of Hashem’s name, a feat revealed to them by studying Sefer Yetzirah. Can such a man be counted as part of a minyan? Does he have the Halachic status of a Jew, or is he a creature on two feet?
This interesting question was first put forth by the Chacham Tzvi. He argues that a possible clarification can be gleaned from the Gemara’s account (see Sanhedrin 65b) that Reb Zeira dismantled such a creature, reverting him back to dust. If he were to have had the status of a full-fledged Jew, doing so would amount to murder!
However, the Chacham Tzvi refutes this proof. According to a novel exposition of a verse in Bereishis (9:6), the prohibition of murder is limited to a human being that was born to parents. The Chacham Tzvi concludes that nevertheless, from the fact that Rebbi Zeira found no use in the creature and saw no reason to prolong his existence, it is clear that such a man would not be qualified to take part in a minyan.
An additional rationale is posited by the Chacham Tzvi’s son, The Yaavet"z. A deaf-mute, although regarded to be a complete Jew, is considered to be lacking daas, rendering him unfit to be part of a minyan. The same Halachah would apply to a person created through Sefer Yetzirah, who lacks the faculties of sound and speech.
Another proof can be brought from the story (Berachos 47b) that Rebbi Eliezer redeemed his Canaanite slave, despite the biblical instruction to the contrary, in order to allow him to serve as the tenth man in a minyan. If a man created through Sefer Yetzirah can indeed fulfill such a role, Rebbi Eliezer would not have found a need to push aside a biblical law and would have created a person through Sefer Yetzirah instead.
(Responsa Chacham Tzvi 1:93; She’ilas Yaavetz 2:82; Maalos Hayuchasin)