The Holy Place…is where you are

Preparing for the Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur

 In 2011, in advance of Rosh Hashanah, the Ten Days of Repentance and Yom Kippur 5772, the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks recorded a series of ten short videos, each reflecting on a particular theme or prayer pertinent to this special and spiritual period in the Jewish calendar.

These timeless messages are equally applicable as we enter any new year.

In ancient times there were holy places. The land of Israel was holy. Holier still was Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, the holiest site was the Temple. And within the Temple was a place supremely sacred: the Holy of Holies.Then there’s holy time. There are festivals. Holier still is Shabbat. And holier than that is Shabbat Shabbaton, the Sabbath of Sabbaths, Yom Kippur. The Day of Atonement.

And there are holy people. Israel is called goy kadosh, a holy nation. Within it the holiest of tribes were the Leviim, the Levites. Among the Leviim were people holier still, the Kohanim, Priests. And among Priests was one holier than all others, the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest. And once a year the holiest man entered holiest place on the holiest day and sought atonement for all Israel. But then the Temple was destroyed. Jerusalem reduced to ruins. There were no more sacrifices, no more High Priest. What remained? Just the day itself. And us, the Jewish people.

So wherever we pray becomes a mikdash me’at, a fragment of the Temple. Every prayer said from the heart is like a sacrifice. And God listens to each of us as if we were the High Priest. All we have is the service of the heart. And the knowledge that God listens to every word that comes from the heart. Shema Koleinu. Dear God, listen our voice, for we have nothing to give You but our prayers.

Shanah Tovah.