Saturday, September 15, 2012

Why pray in a synagogue on the High Holidays?

Many people ask themselves, why do we need Rosh Hashana? Why do we need to go to synagogue? Why the ritual? Doesn't God already know what's in my heart? Wouldn't it be simpler to stay home and talk to God? Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald, Director of NJOP, explains that what we want to accomplish on Rosh Hashana is the whole picture. While its true that we can pray at home, its more efficacious for us to pray at the synagogue. For example, if you're on a TV game show and they are focusing on you, if you make an error you may look foolish. But if you're in a group, there is a chance you can blend in. If you're confessing your sins with others they might not seem as bad, a little safer for us perhaps. That is one way to look at it. On the other hand, there is the issue of offering a more perfect prayer. You can only say the things that are in your heart. But if you come together with a group and everyone offers their own little piece of the prayer, it may not be perfect, but each has his own strength. Put all those pieces together and offer your prayers up to God. That is way we all pray together. If we know Hebrew we pray in Hebrew. Jews around the world all pray facing Jerusalem. So we are all offering prayers to God together, as one. How can God not accept the perfect prayers of Israel? It is important for us to come together on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Its true that God know what is in our hearts. But we have to articulate it. Prayer is vital.

Rabbi Buchwald prays that all of our prayers will be accepted for good for the year 5773. Shana Tova u'Metuka, wishing you all a Happy and Sweet New Year!

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