A Yom Yerushalayim Dvar Torah for Jerusalem Day
When the Jew prays, wherever he may be in the world, he faces the Holy Land Of Israel. When in Israel, he faces Jerusalem. When in Jerusalem, he faces the Temple Mount, the holiest place in the world. When praying on the Temple Mount, he faces the innermost chamber of the temple, The Holy of Holies. There is something about that spot that is the essential for every human being to know.
The Holy of Holies was the sanctified inner room of the Temple where the Holy Ark sat. Entry was forbidden to all except the High Priest, and he could only go in on the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur. It is interesting to note what the high priest would wear when he went into that awesome chamber.
Normally, the priest wore eight garments. Four of these were of white linen, and four were of gold. In the Holy of Holies, however, he was forbidden to where the golden garments and only could enter in the four white garments. The reason given for this relates to the episode of the Golden Calf. Since gold is a reminder of that tragic sin, it is inappropriate to be worn in a place and at a time when forgiveness is sought. But there is one other instance where the high priest would only wear the white garments.
On Rosh Hashanah, the central ceremony is the blowing of the shofar. When this was celebrated in the Temple, the priest would also don his white garments exclusively. Our sages ask that the shofar was blown outside of the Holy of Holies! Why not wear the golden garments? They answer that since the shofar is coming for a " remembrance," it is as if he were standing in the Holy of Holies. What does this mean?
My teacher, Rabbi David Lifshitz, of blessed memory, gave a most inspiring explanation. The Holy of Holies was, according to tradition, the spot from which God created the world. It was from there that the earth was taken to create the first man, Adam. And it is there that Adam, Noah, and Abraham built altars and worshiped God. In other words, the spot from which man was created became the spot from which he would achieve forgiveness and closeness to God.
That is the " remembrance" referred to by the sages in connection with the shofar. It causes us to remember our creation, which was pure and without sin. When we connect with the true essence of our souls, we take a spiritual journey into that most revered place, The Holy of Holies. When that happens, we renew our values, become true to the purity of spirit that is within each and every one of us. Only by forgetting the spiritual powers within us do we fall prey to sin, to sadness, to misdirection.
Jerusalem and the site of the holy Temple are meant to spread peace and fulfillment to all humanity. Let us not forget the true significance of the most beautiful city in the world. Happy Jerusalem Day.