Appreciating the Colors of Your Tzibbur

In his sefer, the Ten Terms for Tefillah, Rav Shimshon Dovid Pinchus zt”l, discusses the virtues of davening with the Tzibbur:

“Some mouths produce pearls in prayer, while other mouths bring out flashes of fire and untold precious jewels. The number of hues that come out from the prayers of Yisrael is endless…In any event, from all of them together is woven and embroidered a magnificent and beautiful crown for the head of G-d, may he be blessed…”

I was thinking along these lines in a different context a few weeks ago when attending a Bar Mitzvah on Shabbos morning at another Shul. It was a great minyan, quiet, serious, with many friends of mine in attendance, a Shul at which I felt very comfortable. It was however missing one crucial ingredient, it was missing the colors of my Shul, that I’ve come to love.

Every person has infinite depth and complexity, but in our guarded society, we often see only the surface-level grey. It’s through our repeated conversations, interactions and yes, conflicts, that we get to see the different colors of each person. I’ll be the first to admit that it can sometimes be exasperating, but when I’m able to take a third person view, I get a glimpse of each person’s unique colors.

Although my focus here is usually on trying to understand and resolve the inherent conflicts in the Shul environment it’s important to step back on a regular basis to observe and celebrate the colors of your Tzibbur.