Off the Pulpit

Bring Back the Noise

For years we had a problem at morning minyan. There is a day school in the synagogue, which is a great blessing. The kids arrive around the time of the minyan, which is less of a blessing. People trying to pray would be distracted by a sudden onrush of noise – parents dropping off their children, children shouting to one another, and an occasional frantic student running into the chapel to grab a kippah that was inadvertently left at home. The minyan attendees were a very tolerant bunch, but sometimes it was not easy.

Then of course, the pandemic struck. Not only did we miss the minyan at first, but even after it resumed, and procedures were altered or only certain classes were in person, things were quiet. And I realized I missed the noise.

I wonder how much that we think of as a problem we would miss if it was taken away. Sometimes underneath what we consider difficulty there is emptiness. I remember the woman in the assisted living facility who was asked by sociologist Barbara Myerhoff why she fights with the other residents so often. She answered, “We fight to keep warm.”

Bring back the problems. Bring back the noise.