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A Visit To A Jewish Synagogue

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Published: Fri, 28 Apr 2017

Judaism is the oldest and one of the most practiced religions in the world. It was originated when God called Abraham and ordered him to take his people to Canaan, the Promised Land. There, it was signed like an agreement between God and the Jews because they were the chosen people to extend the law of God. It is considered Abraham the father of the Jews and Christians, because he descended from the Jewish people. Another important descendant in the origin of the religion was Moses, who were handed the tables of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai.

The source of the Jewish doctrine is divine in revelation contained in the Torah. It is also a guide of living. Judaism also has very complex purity laws of food. It is allow to eat all plant products, terrestrial animals if they are all ruminants with cloven-hoofed with the exception of the pork, the hare, the camel, etc. Birds are also allowed, all are permitted except the birds of prey. Also sea animals are allowed but only those fish that have scales and fins. In addition the animals must be slaughtered by an expert killer. He must followed all the rabbinical laws for killing, which require, among other things, the disgorging, for which the animal loses all his blood, food prohibit for the Jewish, and the detailed inspection of certain viscera to verify that the animal has no default to be prohibited. After that he must eliminate certain nerves and the fat. Finally, before cooking the meat it has to be treated with water and salt to miss the last traces of blood. In addition it is important to separate at the time of cooking and eating, meat products and dairy products, also maintaining separate cooking tools for each group.

The rabbi is an expert of the study of Torah, which also has obtained the certification to exercise it. His mission is to ensure that believer follows correctly the cult, ensure the implementation of the procedures and teaching, interpreting, implementing and always studying the Torah. He can occupy the position of spiritual leader of a synagogue, a community or a set of them. But regardless of the position, his authority will be determined not for reasons of hierarchy, on the contrary by the prestige given by his knowledge and recognition of it in Jewish society.

The usual place of worship on the Jewish religion is the synagogue. Together with the Temple is the most important institution of Judaism. After the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem the synagogue became the center and central point of the religious Jewish life. It inherited many of the customs and rituals of the Temple but there were some of them that were prohibited because they were exclusive of the Temple, for example the prayer became the substitute for the sacrifices. Since many years ago to the functions of the synagogue as a center for prayer, study and teaching it also became as the center of community and place of meeting for treating all kinds of issues related to the community life. Also, in the synagogue or in its buildings there was everything necessary for the Jewish life, for example the headquarters of rabbinical court, the ritual bath, hospice for hosting travelers, among others.

The religious service, established in the Talmud, has remained without basic changes along their 2,500 years of history, and only with time has suffered some extensions that vary between communities to others. In the synagogue it is held three times a day, at sunset, at sunrise and at noon, the prayers community in the presence of a minimum of ten (10) men older than thirteen (13) years. Besides the followers there is present the rabbi, where he reads aloud the texts of prayer.

The worship prayers to God are all in Hebrew with some fragments are in Aramaic. They consist in passages of Psalms and other books of the Bible. In the service of Monday, Thursday, Saturdays and holidays it is read the Torah. In each week they read a section so the cycle of reading will be completed in the course of the year. The reading is follows by a passage of the biblical books of Prophets where they are related with the section of the Torah. During the prayer men must cover their head with any hat or skullcap. Also they cover themselves with a kind mantle of rectangular shape usually made of wool, white and blue stripes or black.

Within the festive calendar the most important institution of Judaism is the sabat (“Saturday’), which reminds each week the divine resting in the seventh day. The celebration homeschooling starts before sunset on friday, lighting the housewife in the second house candelas sabbaticals on which should read the corresponding blessing. The meals, such as the remaining festivities, starting with a prayer of sanctification (quidús) on a cup full of wine and another blessing on two loaves of bread. The evening of Saturday, another sentence parallel mark the separation (habdalá) between the holy day just and profane that begins; it aspires the smell of spices stored in a bowl, lights a candle and drink a glass of wine, all accompanied by the blessings.

Another of its festivals most famous in the Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement, which culminates the ten days of penitence of New Year (September). It is a day of reflection and repentance in which it must save fasting. The Yom Kippur (“Day of forgiveness or of atonement”) is the most solemn of the Jewish calendar and with it culminates the ten days of penitence initiated with the new Year. It is a day of fasting, devoted to repentance and to ask forgiveness of sins committed against God, against himself and against the neighbor; for forgiveness for the latter there to repair the damage caused, but without the repair and repentance are sufficient when the neighbor is a non-Jewish. The religious services in the synagogue last throughout the day; it starts with the sentence Kal nidré, in which it seeks the annulment of the votes are not met, and closes with a touch of sofar.

Of the ceremonies mandatory of the life cycle, the first is the circumcision (berit milá) of the man jewish eighth day of his birth and provided that the health of the newborn permits, in a sign of the alliance (berit) of the people with God, as ordered Abraham in Gen 17.11-12. In the circumcision is imposed on the child a Hebrew name and must be performed a professional (mohel) with the necessary religious knowledge and skills. A month and a day of birth a firstborn, according to the law should devote themselves to God, performed the ceremony of pidión haben (“rescue of the child’) the father it is deposited in the arms of a kohén (“priest”) and then what recalls delivering a sum of money symbolic.

The marriage ceremony consists of two consecutive stages: (a) the betrothal, with the consecration (quidusín), in which the boyfriend placed in the finger of the bride gold ring, and the reading ritual of marriage contract and its provisions (cohen), among which are the obligations that the man takes on himself as a husband and compensation to be paid to women in the event of divorce; and (b) the remarriage (nisuín), with the recitation of the seven blessings. During the ceremony the bride and groom remain under a palio (hupá), which symbolizes the thalamus bridal, and the groom must break a glass placed their feet, act designed to evoke the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem.

The 13 years the male jewish reaches the age of majority religious, that is, it becomes bar misvá (“subject to the precepts’), being from then responsible for their actions. In the holding the child sits for the first time the tallith and the tefilín, and is traditional to be invited to the synagogue to read in the Torah the fragment that corresponds to it.


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