Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.
Certain times in our lives we gather in the church or synagogue, not because we have all of a sudden received an epiphany, but rather because we have been groomed to understand the awesomeness of the connection that is offered by the experience.
The prayers we say are designed to segue us into a feeling of contrition and forgiveness. We mouth words and then expect some miracle to occur that will absolve us of all that is considered wrong in our dealings with one another and our understanding of our connection with God whose demands seem to indicate indescribable tales of sacrifice.
I remember reading an essay that dealt with houses of worship and their significance in our lives. It mentioned the fact that we pray together with our co-religionists and, in doing so, become the collective conscience of all. There is a connection to the past, because generations that have preceded us did the very same thing. There is a feeling of future because we know that the generations that will follow will also do the very same thing.
Yet there is still a magical feeling being here. There is something enchanting about mouthing words or singing hymns we don’t even know the meaning of but remember hearing our parents or grandparents repeating.
Every time we encounter something of significance in our lives, we make our way to the one place that reminds us that we are all God’s children. Where else can we acknowledge the gifts given to us? Where else can we achieve this feeling of wholeness and completion?
So the question remains, why do we still navigate to these places? The answer is not so remote. We go because that is where we commemorate birth and death, where we express our sorrow and delight as we continue our journey through life. God may not be so distant after all. We say, or sing the prayers because we know that only through this exercise can we truly understand everything there is to fulfillment.
The blessings of life are our beginnings. We witness new life, and new people enter our lives. All this indicates a strong feeling of faith. Perhaps some are not considered as religious as others, but religious fervor is not measured by adherence, but rather by the measure of our hearts.
As all faiths teach us – “the blessing I give to each of you, the newest among us and the ones just beginning their lives – is that you should go from strength to strength, so that your God will continue to bless you with all the gifts life has to offer.”
Try it! Visit a House of Worship! Remember, as God has taught: “MY House is a House of prayer for all people.” Not just for some. In these trying times, perhaps turning to God will not only give us answers, but also teach us the value of life.