Messianic Judaism

The Privilege of Ma’ariv

Perhaps you are like me. I love to learn. I find myself often reading several books at the same time.

One that I am currently reading is a young-adult non-fiction novel called Survivors Club by Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat. Survivors Club tells the story of Michael who, along with a group of other Jewish children, survived internment in the Auschwitz death camp. This book would be a great book for Messianic young people to learn about the horrible experiences of Jews in Europe during the Holocaust. Along the way, the book explains various Jewish traditions and prayers. In the first chapter it mentions that the men of his family, who lived in Poland prior to their internment, went to the synagogue twice daily to pray and study Torah.

Initially I thought this was a mistake. Every day Jewish men meet in their local synagogues three times to pray: evening, morning, and afternoon. So why would the Jewish men in Poland have met only twice daily? Then I understood. The Nazis enforced curfews at sundown with threat of death. Those weren’t empty threats. Rather than meet together with a group of men, they were forced to pray the evening prayers known as Ma’ariv in their homes.

As a Messianic Jew, I attend a Messianic synagogue that values Judaism and the prayers. The members of our community strive to be disciplined in three daily habits: giving of charity, study and prayer, and synagogue attendance. I have been blessed to have the luxury to pray three times daily in the sanctuary and to study Torah with others in the synagogue’s library. Just because I have the opportunity doesn’t mean I always take it. Little by little I try to do better, and not beat myself up over my shortcomings. But admittedly, as a Jewish man living in twenty-first-century America, my excuses for not getting to the synagogue for prayers pale in comparison to the experiences of those Jews who had to race the sun home with the muzzle of a German Luger trained on their backs.

Yes, my people are in exile. Obstacles remain that often try to impede our ability to fulfill God’s commands. But most Jewish people still enjoy the ability to practice our faith openly without fear. We should seize this opportunity and no more take it for granted. We don’t know how long we will have the freedom to openly worship God, or even to do that small mitzvah to help our fellow man. We should live like the sun is going down and this is the last chance to do that good deed. After all, God gave us the opportunity to do his work in order to fulfill his will. We don’t know how long that window of time will be open. Tomorrow is not promised to us. If not now, then when? If not us, then who? [1]

This should be an encouragement to appreciate the time we have and to not waste it:

Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Footnotes:
  1. cf. Pirkei Avot 1:14

Source: First Fruits of Zion

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