So, these men in shul, like them or not, are my family. And as with family, there are spats, blow-ups, insults, and people who are impossible to tolerate for even a second longer. But the bond that holds us together remains.
That’s what I tell myself when I encounter another example of puzzling people in shul: One man I know hates the rabbi and yet he is there every day—morning, noon, and night—and on Shabbes, too. Every time the rabbi says something, he mutters expletives under his breath. Sometimes he will badmouth the rabbi to whomever is sitting next to him. One day I asked him with some tenderness, “Why not pray in a shul where you like the rabbi?”
“It’s true that I have my reservations about the rabbi,” he stammered, “but I still haven’t made up my mind about him.”
“How long have you been coming here?” I asked.