More and more each day across the United States and other parts of the world the need for a community way of life has never been more apparent. What is community way of life? When we think of an orthodox Notzrim synagogue all kinds of thoughts come to mind. Most of the time it is the modest apparel that seems to be the dead giveaway. Or it could be how much liturgy is used within the service.
But community is far, far deeper than this. It is a consecration to our G-d and obedience to His commandments. This includes 613 commandments from the Torah and another 484 from the Halachic extensions of the Torah (New Covenant) documents. We believe that all the laws are relevant and in full view. Some laws are land dependent, Temple dependent, gender dependent, Levite or priest dependent. There are also laws that are global dependent. In other words laws that are obeyed wherever the Jewish people are; ethical and moral laws, laws that govern our civil behavior, our position as Abrahamic believers – Jew or non-Jew – keeping of all the feast days, keeping kosher, and so on. Also the term halakhah, determining how to live a righteous life, is a significant part of an orthodox Notzrim community. What I see lacking in a lot of Messianic circles and many, many Christian churches is a deepening commitment towards community. In our community we have rabbis and elders and shamishim, servants. These leaders help guide the congregation.
We believe strongly that community does all things together. When we have congregational meetings the vast majority attend without exception, barring sickness or emergencies. Our Wednesday night Yeshivot are also attended as a congregation. On Wednesday night we have been known to cancel if too many are unable to attend because of sickness or extended work hours. We try to have all of our community participate in most functions. It is a requirement in our constitution for members. Sometimes we don’t need the entire congregation for specific projects but we try to use our members to fulfill the task before we gravitate to those that are not members. From food to personal Yeshiva lessons, visitations in hospitals, help paying bills, help with home repairs all while giving a high emphasis on respect for our rabbis and elders. Our Jewish community-way-of-life congregation continues to grow and excel. Our congregation has a high sense of modesty and moral conduct, though it is in no way a perfect congregation, the fact that we emphasize these things forces us to struggle so we may be holy and righteous people.
We believe very strongly that a community needs to be dedicated to each other for the long haul. In most Jewish temples and Christian churches, going to the major service once a week and an occasional Bible study makes up a person’s spiritual involvement. This is sad and tragic. A community needs to be intimate with one another, to know one another, work with one another, play and eat with each other, study with each other, work out our differences with each other, praise-sing-worship with each other and while we are doing all of this we are creating deep relationships that last for years.
Yes, an orthodox liturgical service with yarmulkes and prayer shawls and prayer books is what seems to be what an orthodox congregation is to look like. And yes, at B’rit Avraham we have respect for our traditions. But far more important than just our traditions is a strong call from G-d’s word that we are to have a loving community, espousing the tenants of our faith, being obedient to the commandments and by doing so being an effective witness to the world. Having a religious, euphoric, emotional experience is not enough; neither is just going through the motions. When people come together, experiencing the supernatural of the one true G-d with a belief that Yeshua is the Messiah, working effectively, committing themselves to each other then that has a very settling affect on those seeking stability in this unstable world.
Think on these things,
Rebbe Yosef Hilbrant