“Facing East”


Keriat Torah While

Keriat Torah While “Facing East”

Many aspects of the liturgy are simply about applying basic biblical principles of Torah obedience and worship. “Facing East”[1] as it is called — and which is often regarded by Messianics as just an orthodox Jewish tradition — is one of these basic liturgical principles of Scripture. In the times of the Tabernacle and the Temple the people naturally turned their faces toward the Holy Place while worshipping. The whole architecture of the Sanctuary is so deviced that the attention of all present is drawn to the same direction. In the Dedication Prayer of King Salomon the recurring refrain is “if they pray toward this place”, or: “pray toward their land, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the House which I have built for thy Name” (II Chr. 6:26, 38). If the prophet Daniel obeyed this principle when praying alone (Dan. 6:10), how much more should it be obeyed in common liturgical prayer and worship. It is thus merely a matter of Torah-based logic that the interior of a Synagogue and the manner of performing the service should mirror this model.

This is in harmony with the function of congregational leaders in the Apostolic Scriptures to reflect the position of Messiah. The Chazzan or any worship leader in a messianic context represents and symbolizes the Lord Yeshua as leading his Assembly in the worship of the Father, in the heavenly Temple. These basic theological facts should be mirrored in the liturgy.


[1] “Facing East” is the terminus technicus for facing the Aron HaKodesh, which normally is oriented towards Jerusalem. From the perspective of the diaspora communities in Western Europe this is East- or South-East-ward. The Temple itself was facing the West, not the East. So worshippers standing in the Temple court were facing the West, directed toward the inner Sanctuary. Worshippers in Jerusalem and elsewhere were facing the Temple (whatever direction this was).


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