Sometimes members decide that they would be better served by davening in a Yeshiva. I spoke to my Rabbi about this and he pointed out that these members are missing an important ingredient of serving Hashem, and that is the influence they have on others. In many ways the Shul Members Are More Inspiring Than the Rabbi.
When the Rabbi exhibits dedication to chesed, learning, or davening, the thought which goes through many minds is “Of course that’s what the Rabbi does, after all he is the Rabbi, but I’m just an average working person”. But when a fellow member exhibits dedication to spiritual pursuits, the thought turns to “If he is working on his learning, chesed or davening, perhaps so should I”.
Over the years I have been inspired by many fellow members. One member was a master of chesed. I remember that he would always lend his car, especially to older Rabbis who were in America collecting for various needs. It really inspired me and over the years and I asked myself, “Shouldn’t I at least try to follow his lead?”.
Another member spends hours and hours learning Torah, even though he commutes to work daily, like the rest of his. He does read secular information, but he limits his time on the Internet and uses it more constructively in learning. If the Shul is open, there is a good chance you’ll find him inside learning. I was once sitting in the lobby before the Chuppah at a wedding. He walked in and I asked him why he was checking out various rooms. He said he wanted to see if the hall had a Beis Medrash. After greeting the Father of the Kallah, he left the hall to look for a Williamsburg Beis Medrash to learn for the hour and a half until the beginning of the first dance. I had to ask myself “What efforts am I making to increase my learning time?”.
Then there’s the weekday minyan member who is always working on his davening. He’s constantly reading and sharing Torah ideas about davening. He works on a daily basis to increase his concentration and his love and fear of Hashem, which is expressed in the davening. He freely admits davening is difficult and that is why he works at it. The question that leaves me is “Am I working hard enough to improve in this area?”.
There are many more inspiring examples of Communal Chesed, Shalom Bayis, being a good friend, giving Tzedakah,… Look around, pay attention, get inspired and remember that you’re positive behaviors can be an inspiration for others.