These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Machzor on Your Mind

Posted on September 15, 2010 by Joel D.

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This Yom Kippur, with your spirit and your clothing pure as light itself, you may find yourself steeped in the words of prayer. You begin the repetition of the Musaf Amidah. Your Kavana, your intentions, are pure and your passion to return to Hashem…Then two hours later you’re not even half way through the repetition, you’re likely asleep, if you’re even still there. But if you’re lucky enough to make it through you’ll come to a lovely little Piyut, poem, that begins, “Amitz Koakh”, at the start of the “Seder Avodah”, or Order of Worship. It’s a bit too much to share all the details discussed within but we’ll share with you a little bit of friendly information to keep your interest at this pivotal moment.
These are the words of Rabbi Meir Scweiger, or at least a summation thereof.
In the days of yore men’s desire to return to Hashem, or make Teshuva, was once trumped by the Temple service done solely by the High Priest.
For one week the High Priest would be separated from his home and family to prepare himself with studying, no sleeping the night before and nearly 10 hours of running, slaughtering, sprinkling, washing, dressing and saving our souls on the day of Yom Kippur.
But unless I’ve missed something the Temple isn’t as active as it once was, or at all.
So what do we have today to remind us?
We focus our hearts and our actions so heavily on Teshuva, returning to our desired path towards Hashem, but what of the Cohen? All his hard work for nothing?
In the middle of the repetition of Musaf Amidah on Yom Kippur you find the section mentioned above, devoted to that sacred service. A compilation of history, poetry, praise, Mishna and everything else they could think of to glorify the greatest day in the Jewish calendar (Though Hannukah is still my favorite).
This section is the core of the core of the core, etc.
So this Yom Kippur, instead of dozing off and wandering out of your shul half way through the all important Musaf, better you should sleep in just to be there for this all important section to remind us of where we came from, and what one man can do to save an entire nation. Imagine what you can do in two hours with an Artscroll a comfy seat and some nice air-conditioning (Mazgan).
Gmar Khatima Tova