The Synagogue

The Talmud in מסכת ברכות speaks about the important role that the בית כנסת, the Synagogue, is meant to play in Jewish life. One who lives near a synagogue and does not enter it to pray, is called a שכן רע, a bad neighbor.

The Gemara says that it is better to pray in Shule alone, rather than pray in one’s home. One should have a מקום קבוע, a set place to sit, each time he enters a synagogue. It is improper to pray by the entrance as it looks like one is anxious to leave as soon as he can. One should not use the בית כנסת as a short cut to get to another destination.

Once Rav Yochanan saw a group of elderly men from Bavel. He wondered how they were worthy of living a long life when the Torah say למען ירבו ימיכם על האדמה, that a long life is granted to one living in the Land of Israel. He was told that these men were the first to come to Shule in the morning and the last to leave in the evening.

In the future all of the synagogues in the Diaspora will be transplanted to Israel in the time of Mashiach. We must never minimize the importance of the Synagogue.