Bless this house

Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.

In 1927, a song was introduced to the music world, “Bless this House.” Its lyrics emphasize to me the value and importance of both God and the houses built for God’s honor to dwell. Sometimes we forget that these structures exist, because we visit them so infrequently. How sad that each generation seems to drift further and further away from connection to God and the message of sanctity and sacrifice.

Read the words: “Bless this house, O Lord we pray. Make it safe by night and day.” In today’s world of hate and violence, even our houses of worship are not safe anymore. The walls are crumbling from indifference and ignorance. Holiness does not seem to be part of our vocabulary.

“Bless the door that it may prove, ever open, to joy and love.” How many times have we passed a house of worship and find its doors closed tight and only open when the knock is so loud because of fear and doubt? Perhaps the doors are locked because the support has dwindled and there are no resources to keep them open. We would rather squander our wealth on frivolous things and self-indulgence to the neglect of our need for spiritual guidance and enlightenment.

“Bless the people here within, keep them pure and free from sin.” In today’s world, we find that blessings are few because we do not feel the need for them. It is the sin of self-indulgence in place of the virtue of others. If we do not care to open the door to faith, then for sure the blessings of life will not find their way to our hearts.

“Bless us all that one day we may dwell, O Lord! With Thee!” Only in times of turmoil do we even think of salvation and redemption. Only when tragedy turns its ugly head toward us do we then consider the value of prayer and the place to which we enter to utter these prayers. It is together that we find the comfort so badly needed. It is together that we find the ability to offer support to those suffering.

How sad that when we find ourselves in despair, we then remember where our solace can be found. How sad that the one time we search for a place to sit and meditate, that we find the doors chained because of the lack of interest. Supporting our houses of worship is vital for a people to remain connected to a God who sits and waits for us to visit and open our hearts and minds to the values taught during our lifetime. Some will say some words and expect a miracle to occur, setting all things right, not truly understanding that wishing is not enough. Action is needed for completion.

Perhaps we should realize that “Letting in God’s heavenly light” requires us to open our eyes to witness the glory of faith teaching us endurance and fortitude. Perhaps this will afford us the opportunity to learn to live our lives in concert with the idea of God as a partner in our quest for meaning and fulfillment.

Bless this house should be a clarion call for us to respond to our obligations to support our houses of worship, just as we ensure that our personal houses are kept in the shape we find satisfactory for our living needs. The latter is for our personal comfort, the former for our spiritual satisfaction.

May God always give us the courage to accomplish both.