Friday, 18 June 2010

Some Thoughts on Synagogues

Mekorot for my sermon on Shabbat, pre a big shul lecture on the Talmud.
Interesting to see how the Rabbis 'placed' the Synagogue, as a meeting place for people, for people and God and in the context of it's place compared to the Temple and a person's home. Shabbat shalom.

Talmud and the Synagogue


Brachot 5b-6b

Abba Benjamin says, When two people enter [a Bet HaCeneset] to pray, and one of them finishes their prayer first and does not wait for the other but leaves, their prayer is torn up before their face. As it is says, You who tear their soul in anger, won’t the aretz be forsaken because of you? (Job 18[JG1] ) And more than that, they cause the Divine Presence to remove itself from Israel. As it says And won’t the rock be removed from its place (ibid) And ‘rock’ is the Holy Blessed One.

And if they wait, what is their reward? — Rav Yosi bar Rav Hanina says: They get the blessings of the verse When you heed my commands your prosperity will be like a river, your triumph like the waves of the sea, your offspring as many as the sand, their offspring as the grain. (Isaiah 48)


Abba Binyamin says ‘A person’s prayer is heard only in the Bet HaCeneset. For it is said: [May Your eyes be open] to hear the song and to the prayer. (I Kings 8) The prayer is to be recited where there is song.


Rabin bar Rav Adda says in the name of Rav Yitzhak ‘How do you know that the Holy Blessed One is to be found in the Bet HaCeneset? As it is says God stands in the congregation of God. (Ps 82)

He also said, ‘If a person regularly goes to the Bet HaCeneset and one day does not go, the Holy Blessed One asks after them. As is says Who among you who fears God and obeys the voice of God’s servant and now walks in darkness and has no light? (Is 50)

Rabbi Yochanan says: Whenever the Holy Blessed One comes into a Bet HaCeneset and does not find ten persons there,  God becomes angry at once. As it said Why when I came was there no-one. I called and there was no answer (Is 50[JG2] )


Brachot Mishnah 9:5 and 62b

A person should not enter the Temple Mount with their shoes on nor should they make it a Kappandaria

What is a kappandaria? Raba said: A short cut, as its name implies. Rav Hanah bar Adda ‘It is as if a man said, instead of going round the blocks [makkifna adari], I will go in here.’


Maybe the rule for the Temple mount where the shoe is forbidden should be applied to the Bet HaCeneset since it is forbidden both to make a short-cut through the Temple and through a Bet HaCeneset. No, said Raba, ‘[The Bet HaCeneset is] the same as a person’s house. Just as a person objects to their house being made a short cut but does not object to the wearing of shoes there, so in the case of the Bet HaCeneset, the using it as a short cut is forbidden, but wearing shoes is not forbidden. (loose translation)


Megillah 28a

Our Rabbis taught: ‘Btai HaCeneset must not be treated disrespectfully. It is not right to eat or to drink in them. Nor to dress up in them, nor to stroll about in them, nor to go into them in summer to escape the heat and in the rainy season to escape the rain[JG3] .


R. Aha the son of Raba asked R. Ashi: If a man has occasion to call another out of Bet HaCeneset, what is he to do? He replied: If he is a rabbinical student, let him say some halachah; if he is a tanna,7 let him repeat a Mishnah; if he is a Kara,8 let him say a verse of Scripture; if none of these, let him say to a child, ‘Repeat me the last verse you have learnt’; or else let him stay a little while and then get up.

 [JG1]‘Your prayer will be thrown into your face, if on your account the earth or synagogue is forsaken’.

 [JG2]Response to Kedushah

 [JG3]‘Nor to dress up in it’. Raba said: The Sages and their disciples are permitted — since R. Joshua b. Levi has said: What is the meaning of ‘Be Rabbanan’? The Rabbis’ house.

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