The Gemara cites the Biblical source for the requirement of ten men to complete a minyan. Moshe Rabbeinu sent spies to scout out the Land of Canaan. Ten of them returned and issued a report concluding that it was not a conquerable land. Hashem was disappointed with their lack of faith in His abilities and tells Moshe and Aharon: “How long will this evil ‘assembly’ provoke to complain against Me?” From here it is deduced that an “assembly” is comprised of ten men. In Parshas Kedoshim, the posuk states: “I shall be sanctified among the children of Israel.” We explain the word ‘among’ here by reference to its use in another place: “Separate yourselves from ‘among’ this assembly.” Since the term “assembly” in our posuk refers to the ten spies, so too, the former posuk, “You shall be holy,” refers to an “assembly” - in other words, a “minyan” of ten.
The following story took place a number of years ago in a kollel located somewhere in the United States. As a way to encourage his avreichim to be extra diligent in their studies, the Rosh Kollel came up with an unusual incentive that he knew they would just love. He made an agreement with a local toy manufacturing company (whose owner was a close friend and Torah-loving Jew) to reward his most diligent avreich with an original gift. One day, the Rosh Kollel made an announcement to the entire kollel: “Whoever is chosen as the most diligent in learning throughout the entire z’man (semester) will be permitted to enter a toy warehouse for 10 minutes and take whatever he wishes for his children.”
At the end of the z’man, one avreich was chosen for his extreme diligence and, needless to say, his children were thrilled to pieces! For days, they came up with lists of toys they wished to enjoy and their father assured them that he would do his best to get what he could. One the chosen day, the father went to the toy warehouse to receive his reward.
The owner of the company warmly welcomed him. He hugged and kissed him, and expressed his great respect for Torah scholars. He then gave him his long-awaited permission to enter the warehouse and take whatever he desired.
The Rosh Kollel stood to the side and watched as the avreich approached the warehouse shelves and chose the toys to bring home to his children. Some of the merchandise was quite heavy, and the avreich couldn’t carry everything at once. He continuously went back and forth from the shelves to the location where he piled up the toys. This was tiring work but the avreich knew that his children were waiting for him with great anticipation and he persevered. He filled one box, then another. One minute passed, then the next... until soon five minutes had expired... and shortly thereafter all ten minutes were gone! The father was covered in sweat and breathing heavily, having made a tremendous effort in the time allotted to him. All in all, he filled eighteen boxes with toys that he had joyfully selected for his children, who were waiting for him at home.
The Rosh Kollel smiled as the ten minutes passed. It was a nice gesture and this yungerman surely earned it. He turned to the factory owner to thank him for his generous cooperation. The owner, however, looked at him and declared, “To tell you the truth, I was surprised that your smart and intelligent avreich didn’t use every opportunity presented to him. True, he left the store with 18 boxes filled with toys, but had he thought about it, he could have left with much more!”
The Rosh Kollel asked him what he meant and the man replied, “In the factory, there’s a lift-truck used to move merchandise in bulk. If he had asked me, I would have let him use it to bring the toys to his boxes. He could have taken a much greater number of toys, and in the space of ten minutes he could have cleaned out the shelves! I was wondering why he did not do that. Instead, he took toys in his arms, one by one, leaving with ‘only’ 18 boxes of toys!”
Chacham Rabbi David Pinto shlit’a explains that this story illustrates the immense difference between an individual prayer and one said with a minyan. In fact, while an individual who prays alone is only supported by his own merits, ten Jews who pray together are using a “lift-truck” approach, in other words, the merit of all who pray together are attributed to each person individually. As such, the benefits to each person in the minyan increase substantially.