An interpretation of the traditional Avodah (Amitz Koakh) read by four people on The stage or platform on which the person leading prayers stands..
A: In the beginning, God spoke with human beings, and human beings spoke with God.
B: Whatever God thought, that was in the heart of the human beings, and whatever the people felt, God understood. The people and their God were close, as they lived in the Garden of Eden that God had provided. The people kept God’s garden, and God watched over the people. God would call the people by name – and the people would call to God by name.
D: The essential sounds.
A: The sound of the breath of life, breathed into the world each day by God.
B: “I was, am, will ever be.”
C: “I will be with you – do not be afraid.”
A: Then came the commandment, the fruit, and the trust was broken. Saddened, God no longer spoke to the people. And scared, the people no longer called God by name. The garden lay empty, and the people began their wanderings.
C: There was the flood, for the people multiplied violence all over the earth. Yearning for God’s presence, the people built a tower toward the heavens, but God sent it toppling down. And so it was, for generations and epochs. The people cut off from God, God cut off from humanity, and a deafening silence over an earth where no one spoke the true Name of God.
D: After centuries of stillness, God’s voice was again heard, first by Abraham is the first patriarch and the father of the Jewish people. He is the husband of Sarah and the father of Isaac and Ishmael. God's covenant - that we will be a great people and inherit the land of Israel - begins with Abraham and is marked by his circumcision, the first in Jewish history. His Hebrew name is Avraham. and The first matriarch, wife of Abraham, and mother of Isaac, whom she birthed at the age of 90. Sarah, in Rabbinic tradition, is considered holy, beautiful, and hospitable. Many prayers, particularly the Amidah (the central silent prayer), refer to God as Magen Avraham – protector of Abraham. Many Jews now add: pokehd or ezrat Sarah – guardian or helper of Sarah., then by Rivkah and Yitzchak, and then by Yaakov and Lavan's younger daughter and Jacob's beloved wife second wife (after he is initially tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah). Rachel grieves throughout her life that she is barren while Leah is so fertile. Ultimately, Rachel gives birth to Joseph and dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Rachel is remembered as compassionate (she is said to still weep for her children), and infertile women often invoke Rachel as a kind of intercessor and visit her tomb on the road to Bethlehem. and The third of the Jewish matriarchs, Lead is the eldest of Lavan's daughters and one of the wives of Jacob. She is the daughter whom Lavan tricks Jacob into marrying instead of his younger daughter Rachel, whom Jacob has requested to marry. Leah is mother to six of the the twelve tribes and to one daughter, Dinah.. They spread the voice, telling of it to their families, and they became a great nation. But the Name itself remained a secret, God’s secret.
A: When the Children of Yisrael were taken into slavery, God followed them, and when they cried out, God rescued them. God chose from among them a leader, someone to speak to, as God had done in the earliest days. God brought The quintessential Jewish leader who spoke face to face with God, unlike any other prophet, and who freed the people from Egypt, led them through the desert for forty years, and received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. His Hebrew name is Moshe. to the mountain, and revealed the Name: Yud—Hay—Vav—Hay. “I will be with you in your suffering. I will be with you, whatever happens; I will be with you, do not be afraid.”
C: God brought all the Children of Yisrael to God’s mountain, According to the Torah, God, in the presence of the Jewish people, gave Moses the Torah on Mount Sinai (Har Sinai)., the place where God had spoken to Moshe from the burning bush. How God had rejoiced when Moshe listened, understood, asked to hear the Name again! How many generations, centuries, millennia, had God waited to say, “I will be with you”! And so, on the same site, God’s voice and teaching, God’s word, were made known to an entire people for the first time.
D: It is said that every Israelite heard God’s voice in the manner appropriate to him or her. It was all-filling, and utterly inspiring. And it brought God and the Children of Yisrael together as close as God and the first people had been long before in the Garden of Eden.
B: But when it ended, there was a void where the voice had been. The people were indeed afraid, and built their golden calf – and God again stood away, brokenhearted.
A: They reached an accommodation, the Children of Yisrael and God. They would collaborate on a Holy Place where God could be heard, but not as before. And God’s name would not again be spoken, not until that great day of redemption in the distant future. When the wound would be healed, when trust would be reestablished. When whatever God thought, that would be in the heart of human beings, and whatever the people felt, God would understand.
D: Until that day, the name of God would not be spoken by humanity except once each year, in the Most Holy Place, the Kodesh Ha-kodashim in Lit. City of peace From the time of David to the Roman destruction, Jerusalem was the capital of Israel and the spiritual and governmental center of the Jewish people. During the long exile, Jews longed to return to Jerusalem and wrote poems, prayers, and songs about the beloved city. In 1967, with the capture of the Old City, Jerusalem was reunited, becoming "the eternal capital of Israel." Still, the longing for peace is unfulfilled.. On The holiest day of the Jewish year and the culmination of a season of self-reflection. Jews fast, abstain from other worldly pleasures, and gather in prayers that last throughout the day. Following Ne'ilah, the final prayers, during which Jews envision the Gates of Repentance closing, the shofar is sounded in one long blast to conclude the holy day. It is customary to begin building one's sukkah as soon as the day ends., the anniversary of the day God forgave the people for calling the Golden Calf their god.
C: Seven days before Yom Kippur each year, the Kohen Gadol would begin his preparations. He was accompanied by rabbis, who reminded him of the laws of the holy day and who told him stories about the days at the Mountain of God.
A: asked the Kohen,
B: Is it true that every Jew who ever lived was standing there at Mount Sinai?
C: My friend,
D: replied the rabbi,
C: The soul of every Jew from every generation was there at Mount Sinai. Why else do all Jews everywhere seem to be familiar to one another? We were all there – you and I, and our parents before us, and their parents too. We all heard together.
B: When Moshe went up the mountain to receive the tablets of the covenant, what did he see?
C: We have learned that Moshe spoke with God face to face, as a person might speak with a neighbor. When Moshe was up on the mountain, he was surrounded by a cloud, and all he could see was a great light.
A: The Kohen was silent for a moment.
B: Rabbi, I have never before walked into the Kodesh Ha-kodashim. My father – may his memory be for a blessing! – my father was fortunate to carry out the service for Yom Kippur eighteen times. But he never told me what he saw there, inside the Most Holy Place.
D: Now the rabbi was silent. Slowly he began.
C: I have spent my life studying the The Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general., looking into God’s words, straining to hear and to understand. But there is one thing I shall never be able to do, and that is what you will do on this holy day. You will stand there in the Holy Place, and you will be surrounded by the cloud just like Moshe, and see the dazzling light of the The feminine name of God, expounded upon in the rabbinic era and then by the Kabbalists in extensive literature on the feminine attributes of the divine..
D: On the morning of Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol put on his special garments, the adornments handed down by the sons of Brother of Moses, chosen as Moses' interlocutor. His Hebrew name is Aharon.. Near the altar, he stood over a bull, whose sacrifice would make him pure enough to enter the Most Holy Place.
A: And he made confession over the bull, for his own errors and for those of his family, and in his confession he spoke the divine Name for the first of three times. The people in the outer courts of the Temple fell on their faces in reverence. But the Kohen Gadol knew:
B: No, this is not it. I have made the sounds, but I have not spoken the Name.
C: The Kohen proceeded to two goats. By a miracle, they were absolutely identical: in age, in form, in stature. The Kohen drew a lot, and pronounced over one of the goats,
B: “A sin-offering for the Lord!”
C: There is a legend that once when the lot was cast, the other goat approached the Kohen Gadol.
D: Why does my twin brother merit that his blood should serve the Master of all Creation, why I must carry the sins of the Jews off into the wilderness and die for them? Take me instead, for I, too, am without blemish and wish to serve my Creator.
C: You too serve our Master, replied the Kohen. By taking these sins far away, you make it possible for the Shekhinah to dwell with us in this Holy Place for a single moment. Do not worry – you too are serving your Creator.
A: A scarlet thread was tied around the head of the scapegoat, and it was taken aside. The Kohen came to its brother, and made confession for the entire clan of Kohanim. For a second time, in his confession the Kohen spoke the divine Name. Again the people in the outer courts fell upon their faces in reverence. But again the Kohen Gadol knew:
B: No, this is not it. I have made the sounds, but I have not spoken the Name.
C: Now it was time to enter the Kodesh Ha-kodashim.
D: He took the firepan, full of hot coals. He put incense on it. In his other hand, the Kohen held the blood of the bull over which he had confessed his own sins. Quickly, the Kohen entered the Kodesh Ha-kodashim.
A: As he crossed from the Holy Place to the Most Holy Place, all of a sudden the incense lit up, and a cloud of smoke filled the Kodesh Ha-kodashim. The Kohen sprinkled the blood of the bull into the cloud.
C: He was enveloped in the cloud. He could see nothing, hear nothing.
A: He went out again and returned with the blood of the first goat, which he sprinkled again into the cloud. The cloud became thicker.
D: The Kohen Gadol was wrapped in the cloud as in a A four-cornered garment to which ritual fringes (tzitzit/tzitzi'ot) are affixed. The knots in the fringes represent the name of God and remind us of God's commandments. The tallit is worn during prayer and can also be drawn about oneself or around the bride and groom to symbolize divine protection.. He could see everything, and hear everything.
C: The cherubs that stood atop the Ark of the Covenant in Solomon’s first Temple, embracing.
D: The stone called Eh-ven Sh’tee-yah, the first place God created on earth, at spot where he was standing.
D: The voices and faces of every Jew who had ever lived or would ever live.
C: The letters of the Torah, dancing in the air.
C: The Garden of Eden, where God and human beings had spoken so intimately.
D: The ram, whose horns would herald God’s Torah and God’s redemption.
D: The Yerushalayim Shel Ma’alah, the Heavenly Jerusalem, where all the world would one day flow to learn justice and to declare, “The Lord is One! Adonai Ekhad!”
D: The two original tablets of the Covenant, miraculously repaired.
C: The shining light of the Shekhinah.
A: And in a whisper, the Kohen believed he heard something:
B: I am with you – do not be afraid.
D: When the Kohen emerged from the Most Holy Place, his face was glowing.
A: He came to the scapegoat, and made confession for the wrongs of all the people of Yisrael.
A: —he began, respectfully addressing God as only “The Name”—
B: We have made mistakes, we have done wrong deliberately, we have neglected our obligations before you, we the whole House of Yisrael! Cleanse us for all our wrongs, as it is written in the Torah of Moshe, who recorded the words You spoke in Your own voice: “For on this day there will be Kippur for you, to cleanse you from all your wrongs before—
A: The Kohen Gadol was speaking in his normal voice as he uttered the Name. Yet the sounds of the letters of the Name left his lips like thunder. It is said that even miles away, over the mountains, in Jericho, the voice of Kohen was heard.
D: At that moment, no bird sang, no lion roared, no other sound was heard from one end of the world to the other. Even the angels in heaven stopped singing “Kadosh kadosh kadosh,” their never-ceasing chant.
C: And the people, as they heard the Name pronounced so thunderously, heard something else, in a still small voice:
B: I was, am, ever will be. I am with You – do not be afraid.
D: They fell on their faces and proclaimed:
C and D: Barukh shem kvod malkhuto le’olam va’ed.
A: This time the Kohen knew he had made the sounds, and he had spoken the Name.
B: “You shall be cleansed!”
A: The Kohen finished the verse, and the ceremony was then completed. The scapegoat was led into the wilderness, and as it fell down the most distant cliff, the scarlet thread around its head turned white. Another identical thread had been tied to a post in the Temple, and at the exact moment it too turned white.
D: The Kohen Gadol read from the Torah, the same sections we have read today.
B: More than what we have read today is written here!
D: —he said when he had finished.
C: His eyes met the rabbi’s.
A: And the Kohen Gadol pronounced the ancient blessing of his family:
B: Yevarekhekha Adonai Ve’yishmerekha. Ya’ayr Adonai Panav Aylekha Vikhuneka. Yisa Adonai Panav Aylekha Ve’yasem Lekha Shalom. May God bless you and watch over you. May God’s face shine on you with grace. May God pay attention to you and bring you peace.
A: (brief pause) Such is the story of the service of the Kohen Gadol, which he would perform in the Temple every year on Yom Kippur before the assembled congregation of Yisrael. May it be Your will, O God, that one day soon You will be one with us as in the beginning, and that Your true Name will be known everywhere in the world.