Simon* was always an avid sportsman. Growing up, he spent much of his free time practicing his pitch and keeping up to date with the latest scores of hisHe found solace in being a valuable player for the sports club favorite teams.

He had been involved with the local Jewish sports club since before his bar mitzvah, and after his father died a short while later, he found some solace in being a valuable player for the club. For reasons too complex and too personal to discuss here, his tefillin did not get the same attention as his bat and ball, and one by one many other mitzvot were sent to the bench as well.

Simon finished high school and went to college. He still was involved with the Jewish sports club, now as a coach for a newly formed team that did not meet on Saturday or Jewish holidays. The team had members from a mixture of Jewish religious backgrounds—not only those who kept Shabbat—but everyone got along. It was not surprising, then, that they all deeply felt for 18-year-old Avi, one of their mitzvah-observant teammates, when Avi’s father passed away suddenly that year. Their coach, Simon, having gone through a similar experience, was perhaps the one who could relate the most.

The team made it all the way to the finals, which was scheduled for an autumn Sunday. Avi told his teammates that he wouldn’t be able to play. His usual Sunday minyan clashed with warm-up time. He couldn’t make both, and his first commitment was to say Kaddish for his father.

Simon put a comforting hand on Avi’s shoulder and announced: “Avi, we need you. We’ll all meet in my house an hour and a half before the game, and we’ll be your minyan!”

Simon got up early on Sunday, moved furniture aside in the living room until he was satisfied that there was enough room for his team to daven, and then he took out his long-neglected tefillin.

MoreThe boys went off to the game, determined to play their best than the required quorum of young men showed up, put their gear down in a corner of the room and, led by Avi, prayed Shacharit (the morning prayers) together, answering Amen and Yehei Shmei Rabbah (“May G‑d’s name be blessed”) to every Kaddish.

Upon finishing, the boys collected their bats and went off to the game, determined to play their best. Whether it was because of their combined teamwork or their combined prayer, or both, they actually did win that game.

After all, like a minyan, when a team is made up of individuals who care about one another, it is more powerful than the sum of each one’s individual performance.

* A true story; all names have been changed.