I attended a hearing at the US Capitol this morning. The room was filled with approximately 50 people, including US Representatives, business people, and congressional staffers. At the time to begin, one person at the front gave a light klop on a table and everyone immediately left their coffee and took their seats. When Congressmen spoke, people were quiet; when business-people spoke, people were quiet. With the exception of one Congressional person, no one’s cell phone rang; everyone knew, without having to be told, to silence or turn them off.
No one talked about sports, or family, or work, or jokes while others were speaking; no one needed to shush anyone, because people respected their peers, the assembly room, and the purpose for which they were there.
How lucky we would be if we were able to incorporate into the familiarity of our batei k’nesios and midrashos the respect and purpose these people gave to this proceeding.