Prayer Essentials

For the week ending 12 September 2015 / 28 Elul 5775

A Place in Time

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
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“You have chosen us from all the nations; You loved us and have found favor in us; You exalted us above all the tongues, and You sanctified us with Your commandments. You drew us close, our King, to Your service, and proclaim Your great and Holy Name upon us.”

These words are part of the special prayers that we say on the three Regalim (the special festivals when the entire Jewish People would travel to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem).

What is the value of a moment? It would seem that the answer would depend on how much was accomplished. In some situations a person is given five dollars for an hour of his time, while others make five hundred. Yet, there are times when a person, utilizing all of his resources, can make thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in that same hour. The same can be said for real estate. A square foot is always the same measurement, but its value is always changing.

Of all the nations of the world, G-d chose the nation of Israel, instilling within us an aspect of holiness which stems from His own holiness. This is mentioned in the verse, “The soul is a part of the Divine above.” And so it is also written, “For G-d’s portion is His people, Yaakov is the measure of His inheritance.”

The Vilna Gaon explains that “His people” is a reference to the Jewish nation, while the term “His inheritance” is a reference to the Land of Israel, as G-d also instilled it with holiness. When G-d apportioned the lands to the nations, He gave each of them a ministering angel to overlook them, while keeping both the Jewish People and the Land of Israel for Himself.

Of all the places within Israel, G-d chose the Beit Hamikdash for His Divine presence to rest. Thus, in the days when the Temple stood, all ascended to the holy city of Jerusalem during the festivals to celebrate “lifnei Hashem”, “before G-d”. Likewise, of all the different times, the Mo’adim, the Festivals, were infused with a special holiness, making them the most precious moments we have in life. As their name “Mo’ed” (which is the same name given to the “Tent of Meeting”) suggests, they are a special “place in time” to be with G-d.

In conclusion, within the Jewish holidays lies the potential for a threefold union, where man brings together time and space as he unites with G-d. A lesson we can all take from this is one of responsibility. We have been chosen from among all the peoples and given a unique mission. Each holiday serves as a source of unlimited power from which we draw the strength to maximize our time and resources in this world to become a “holy nation, in front of G-d.”

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