There Will Be Conflicts in Shul – Our Job is to Resolve Them

I was talking to my Rav recently and he pointed out the obvious fact that when 10 people get together there will be conflicts. Most will be small and easily resolvable, but on occasion a bigger one will come our way. People have rights, people have interests and people have opinions and sometimes those rights, interests and opinions lead to machlokes.

When machlokes does occur, it’s important to keep in mind that our goal is to eliminate (or minimize) the machlokes. Our sense of justice leads us in the direction of siding with the party more in the right, but restoring peace is a higher priority than judging the situation.

A second thing to keep in mind is that not all conflicts will be resolved overnight or even in a few days. It’s up to the Shul administration to devise and pursue a strategy to resolve the conflict. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to go to plan B and sometime C, D and E. It can be frustrating and tiring, but the administration must be proactive, and not avoid their obligation to try and restore peace.

One final point that’s worth noting is that Shabbos morning is a poor time to try and resolve a conflict, even though that’s the time when a conflict is most likely to occur. For one thing, there’s not much time given that the davening is proceeding. Secondly it makes the conflict more public and therefore more damaging.

Conflicts in Shul are not fun, but here are three consolations in conflict resolution:
1) There are ample growth opportunities
2) It’s one of our main missions in our man to man relationships
3) The resulting peace and quiet tastes so good