The Importance of Collective Worship for the Orthodox Jew

The Importance of Collective Worship for the Orthodox Jew

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The Importance of Collective Worship for the Orthodox Jew

I agree with the statement that collective worship is essential for
the orthodox Jew. My reasons for agreeing with this are the following.
Firstly, Moses commanded a public reading of Torah. This is related to
communal worship as a minyan, a group of 10 men over the age of Bar
Mitzvah, must be present before a reading of the Torah can take place.
A minyan is required for other important prayers, one of which is the
mourners' prayer, Kaddish. When someone has died, the mourners are
obligated to recite this prayer each day for a specific period of
time. In order to recite the prayer, they need a minyan, the quorum
required for public prayer. The result is that the community assembles
in their home while they are in mourning to enable the mourners to say
Kaddish and thereby are able to provide support and consolation. Once
the period of mourning is completed, seven days, then the mourners
need to come to the synagogue to join the minyan there to say Kaddish.
The result again is that they cannot isolate themselves in their
grief, but must come back to the world and back to the community,
where they will be supported and nurtured as they work through their

Another reason that communal worship is essential is because most of
the main traditions and festivals happen within the synagogue such as
Bar Mitzvah and Yom Kippur. It also keeps a feeling of community
within the faith because if you just did individual worship you would
not get the feeling of community. Tradition is a good reason why as it
ensures the thinking of god, having daily prayer in the synagogue and
to pass on a sense of belonging. Some say that collective worship is
very essential or else the faith would die out and without the set
prayers and religious observances from the first temple, the sense of
tradition and belonging would disappear. Also communal prayer
expresses communally- held values and beliefs. By praying as a

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community you have a sense of belonging. By worshiping God together
you are doing it with a body of like-minded people. You gain an
identity, a fellowship. You gain support and encouragement from other
people around you and can share concerns and joys with them. You don't
feel alone. Communal worship is crucial; it is required to maintain
historical traditions and to express ideas of belonging and
corporarteness. Another reason would be to act as a witness to others
and as a sign of the permanence of the faith, despite persecution. It
is also a discipline and a chance to link up with fellow Jews
worldwide who follow the same customs and traditions. Communal prayer
has greater worth than individual prayer. It has a greater impact and
is more acceptable. The gathering of worshippers in the synagogue
represents in miniature the whole Covenant Community standing before
God. If a Jew does not prayer as a community then they are not a
complete Jew. Also praying as a community means not merely as a group
of individuals within a community, but the community's prayer to God.
After all, the covenant at Sinai was with the community as a
collective unit. There is sanctity to the community that exceeds the
sum of its parts. Communal prayer: This includes the prayer of the
members of a family together and the prayer meeting in the church
where people can pray for each other. A believer must share with other
believers about what concerns his inner and outer life because in this
way we can encourage one another in seeking God. Honesty about sin and
the sharing of sadness and joy produces good relationships among
brothers which are like being in a family and are made holy by faith.
The parents, sons and daughters in a family will be in a holy state if
the family meets in the morning and at night to worship God. Believers
must encourage their families to continue to have a relationship with
God because if religion dies inside the family it will not be found
anywhere else. It is the responsibility of the father to make his
house a residence for God otherwise he cannot keep away evil spirits.
However I disagree with this statement for the following reasons. It
isn't crucial for an Orthodox Jew to attend the synagogue for communal
prayer. If a Jew doesn't go to the synagogue it will not make that
person any less a Jew than someone who does go to the synagogue. A Jew
who doesn't participate in communal worship will not be labelled as
different to those that do. After all a person is born a Jew, so
whether they take part in communal worship doesn't matter. A reason
why private prayer is important is that secrecy is important, because
we are praying in front of God and not before men. Jesus set us an
example for prayer. Many times Jesus isolated himself to pray and
spent complete nights in prayer. A Jew should begin and end his day by
prayer as it will enable him to enjoy a powerful spiritual life.
Prayer to a believer is as important as food to the body. Some may
feel that the home is more important than the home is more important
than the synagogue. This can be for a number of reasons. They may feel
this because you don't need a synagogue to be able to get together and
pray. It can be done at home as long as there is a minyan. From the
point of prayer the synagogue is not necessary and if you want to pray
in private then the home could be more important than the synagogue.
People believe that the home is more important than the synagogue
because the home is where you learn a lot about Judaism, about keeping
kosher, lighting candles on Friday night and other such mitzvot. In
many synagogues, members who attend the faith have to pay an annual
rent for a seat in the synagogue. When a Jew pays this annual rent
they are given an allocated seat in the synagogue. The closer the seat
is to the bimah the more expensive it is, this relates to traditions
in the past. This is a reason why some Jews who are not as wealthy
don't believe that collective worship is essential as they are unable
to afford a seat. The synagogue is very important top an orthodox Jew,
it is important for them to study in it. Also it is important to keep
things like mitzvot going to keep the sense of tradition and
strengthen the faith. To conclude I feel that both collective and
private prayer are essential for the orthodox Jew. An example which
includes both collective prayer and private prayer is the, Amidah. The
Amidah is a person's opportunity to approach God in private prayer,
and should therefore be said quietly. The words must be audible to
oneself, but one should be careful to pray softly enough not to
disturb others. If one is alone, it is permissible to raise one's
voice slightly if it helps concentration. It is forbidden to interrupt
the Amidah even to greet an important person. One should not even
acknowledge a greeting. Only a grave emergency justifies interrupting
the Amidah, since it is considered a conversation with God. Perhaps
another reason Jews have a misconception about individual
relationships with God is the traditional emphasis on praying in a
Minyon. Judaism as a religion is not unique in placing an emphasis on
praying as a community. There are numerous reasons for and advantages
to gathering with others for communal prayer. What is important to
realize is that finding God by yourself is "kosher" so to speak. Even
though Jews do not usually use the term "personal relationship" to
describe God, we could since Judaism includes the concept. You need
look no further than the silent meditation that is found in every
Jewish service called the Amidah--the central part of the Jewish
service. During the Amidah each of us has the opportunity for our own
private thoughts, prayers, contemplations and meditations. For this
reason, the Amidah is probably my favourite part of a Jewish service.
One may pray alone, but that cannot function as the mainstay in the
life of a Jew. Jews need to come together to accomplish the
many-faceted aspects of worship: prayer, study, celebration. All these
things require the presence of other people; all are enhanced by the
presence of other people. Hence collective worship is very important
indeed essential for Jews. In both issues, the communal prayer is
superlative over praying alone. Of course, other factors come into
play. Someone broken-heartedly praying outside their child's hospital
room, speaking to God from the core of their being is still the
superior prayer over one who might feel confined from fully expressing
themselves in public. Certainly people can pray by themselves, but
collective worship is also essential at regular intervals because it
brings the community together and that is important. Judaism is not a
religion of the individual. It is more than a faith. It is a
family-centred and community-based culture and civilization. It
fosters interdependence and relationships with others.
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