And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
Before starting the construction of the Tabernacle, the Children of Israel were commanded to cease from all sort of creative activity and observe the Shabbat שבת. “Oh but, how can we observe the Sabbath? There is no synagogue, no Tabernacle, no Temple …!"
Faith based on worship at a certain place on a certain day is common to most religious systems. Whereas for community sake it is good and even needed to have regular meetings and fellowships, I wonder if that was Hashem’s core original idea. After all, the synagogue service was only a post-exilic organizational attempt to expose people to the Torah, in order to avoid another exile. The problem is that with such systems, religion gets removed from home’s daily life and revolves around what we do in the place of worship. Our teenagers then see the difference between who we are at home and who we are at the place of worship and feel that we are hypocrites, and maybe we are. What was then Hashem’s core idea?
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deut. 6:6-9).
Regardless of our other fellowship activities, our religious lifestyle should be a home-based worship system, where Hashem is involved in every aspect of our lives from the time we wake till the time we sleep. The Jewish Friday night custom of sanctifying (separating/distinguishing) the Sabbath day is a microcosm of the Tabernacle which represents God’s presence with his people. The two candles on the table remind us of the Menorah; the challah bread on the table speaks of the bread of presence; the wine of the daily libation; the festive meal of the Sabbath double-offering portion; and the prayers of the altar of incense. It is home-base service officiated by the father as the priest for his congregation composed of direct and extended family, as well as friends. The Saturday fellowship at the synagogue is good but it is an extra. I would paraphrase Yeshua and say that, ‘it is Friday night which sanctifies the synagogue service, not the synagogue service which sanctifies Friday night." To go to Saturday service and not sanctify the Sabbath at home on Friday night with our families misses the whole purpose. It’s a family thing. On Friday night it is customary for the husband to give an ode to his wife using Proverbs 31; the wife does the same to her husband and they both bless the children.
Hashem doesn’t just want to fellowship with us in a building somewhere when we are on our best behavior, He wants to be invited to live at the very core of our lives, to hear how we talk to each other at the table, witness how we interact and treat each other during the commonest of household functions. How else can we get his correction input if we just play ‘games’ in front of him (which He is actually not fooled by anyways)?
As we live our lives, may we allow him to be present in all our thoughts. May his bord be in our mouth when we sit in our house, and when we walk by the way, and when we lie down, and when we rise. May we bind them as a sign on our hand, and may they be as frontlets between our eyes. May they be written on the doorposts of our house and on our gates, … and on our hearts.