How good are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel (Numbers 24:5).
While visiting a community for a lecture, I awoke to a cold, drizzly, dreary day, which only added to my rather depressed spirits at that particular time.
As I entered the shul for the morning service, I realized that in this community, where I did not know a single soul, I was not alone. Several people greeted me with Shalom Aleichem. One person asked me if there was anything he could do for me and then invited me to his kosher home for breakfast. As we left the shul, even the cold dampness could not subdue the warmth I felt.
I now have another reason to pray with a minyan each day. Strangers may be traveling through town, and the shul is the place where they should feel their loneliness lifted and be welcomed among their people.
In our prayer, we ask God to attend to and provide for our needs. The Talmud states that God relates to people according to how they relate to others. When they are concerned with providing for others' needs, they thereby merit Divine concern for their own needs.
No wonder the Talmud stresses the greater efficacy of communal prayer. Attending shul enables one to be of service to others, a mitzvah which is rewarded with Divine response to one's prayers.