The complexity of the religious aspect of Judaism in Israel is expressed even by the fact that only 8% Jews practice their faith. Though walking around the Old City one may think that each single Jew worships each single day. Anyway coming back to my synagogue experience. I have been moved by their understanding of Sabbath, even if only few Jews are moved by it, what is seen in the low attendance. The purpose of Sabbath is to renew the covenant God mad with his people. It was explained to us that Sabbath is like renewing wedding vows on the marriage anniversary. It is not just the moment of the renewal of the vows but the whole day is set aside for celebrating. The same is with Sabbath. When the Sun sets a faithful Jew stops whatever he or she is doing to focus on God. It is not about socializing with your friends and family but it is about renewing your relationship with the Almighty. If Sabbath is like a date no one should be surprised that the first words of the Synagogue service after Sunset on Friday are from the Book of Song of Songs: “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine, my beloved browses among lilies. Who is that coming out of the wilderness, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense? You have captured my heart, my sister-bride. Wake up North wind, come South wind.”
What I enjoyed most they sang all the Psalms and hymns. One of the first prayers is called The Shabbat Queen:
“The sun has disappeared beyond the treetops-
Come let us welcome the Shabbat Queen.
She is descending among us, holy and blessed.
Ad with her are the angels, a host of peace and rest.
Come, O Queen!
Come, O Queen!
Peace be unto you, Angels of Peace!”
The song reminds the faithful Jews that Saturday Sabbath is more like a person they welcome among themselves rather than a brake after a week of work. That’s why immediately they sing a song called Lekha Dodi. As they get to the last verse of the song they all stand up, turn to the main entrance and bow as they keep on singing:
“Enter in peace, crown of God:
Enter in gladness, enter in joy.
Through the faithfulness of a treasured people.
Enter, O Bride!
Enter, O Bride!”
As I listened to the long song I couldn’t help thinking that somebody was coming as there was so much joy, longing and excitement in the way they sang the song. It has given me a better understanding how I should observe Sunday.
If you aren’t afraid that God may teach you something through some Jewish tradition I recommend to you listening to this: