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Erev Rosh Hashanah 5781: Reflections on creating a Mikdash Ma'at (mini sanctuary) in our Homes

09/18/2020 07:54:46 PM


Rabbi Jeffrey Brown

Shanah Tovah, friends. And welcome.
These holidays are all about...transformation.

We saw it a moment ago, with our candlelighting. By kindling flame, and reciting blessings, we brought change into the universe, transforming an otherwise mundane Friday into Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah.

This season isn’t just about the transformation of time. It’s about the transformation of souls.

These next ten days are our do teshuvah by turning and transforming: away from the desires and influences of our yetzer ha-ra, our inclination to do wrong, and to passionately embrace, instead, our yetzer ha-tov - the inner voice of God and Conscience, of Justice and Compassion, that will make us, and our world, less broken, and more whole.

This year: we are particularly reaching for the transformation that moves us from sickness to health. We pray for health and strength this season, for ourselves, and for the brave front line workers and caregivers who look after us - like we have never prayed before, yearning and hoping and demanding that COVID be transformed from that which is feared, to that which is vaccinated against.

How my heart wishes that we could gather safely in our Sanctuary to offer those prayers. Instead, each of us is alone, in the quiet of our respective homes.

Two thousand years ago, the first generations of rabbis distinguished between the Temple in Jerusalem, and the sacred spaces that are our homes. They coined the term mikdash m’at - A miniature sanctuary. And they ardently believed that we have the capacity to elevate and transform our individual home into a sacred mikdash m’at: by dressing a bit more formally or festively than usual; by paying attention just a little more closely than you might typically do on another Zoom call. And you can do it by mimicking the practices of our ancient Israelite priests. Before they entered into the sacred space of the Temple in Jerusalem, they made a point of washing their hands. For them, it was less about ridding themselves of germs or grime. It was about marking a moment of transition. This moment. And this space. Are about to be different. Tonight, and over these next ten days, Time and space will change and shift and transform. And the innermost parts of our selves will shift in the process.Just as in the days of old, we too are ready to begin, with the washing of our hands....

Fri, March 24 2023 2 Nisan 5783