Praying in a community
Judaism places great value in communal prayer or tefillah b’tzibbur. The rabbis quote many biblical verses to show that praying as a group is more powerful than praying alone. The verse “God stands in the divine assembly” attests to God’s presence when we come together (Psalms 82:1).The Torah teaches us that honouring God is a public activity, that “I may be sanctified in the midst of the Israelite people” (Leviticus 22:32).
This has halachic ramifications in that certain blessings may only be recited in a community, b’tzibbur.
Tefillah b’tzibbur is an ideal, but not a non-negotiable, obligation. If a synagogue is more than 18 minutes away, you may pray alone, if possible timing your prayers with those of the nearest tzibbur.
Elie Wiesel writes of the transformative force of tefillah b’tzibbur for the lonely Jew: “He is rescued from his loneliness… He is no longer alone. His voice is not lost in the chaos.”