24.07.2011 22.Tammus, 5771
Following rabbinic precedent, another avenue for recreating the Temple was to identify acts that could be considered parallel to Temple service.
The Temple is part of Jewish collective memory; alas, it is a distant memory. For many of us, it is challenging to connect to the hazy narrative of the Temple. To be sure, we continue to learn its laws, mourn its destruction and regularly pray for it to be rebuilt, but it is not part of daily reality. Following rabbinic tradition, hassidic masters sought to recreate the Temple experience in a variety of forms.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel of Opatow (the Ohev Yisrael, 1748- 1825) was keenly aware of his previous incarnations, one of which was as kohen gadol (high priest) in the Temple. Part of the Yom Kippur service recounts the kohen gadol’s service in the Temple on this holiest of days. When the Ohev Yisrael was leading this service on Yom Kippur, he was heard saying: “And thus I used to say” – instead of the standard text, “And thus he used to say” – because he still remembered the time he served as high priest. Thus, for the Ohev Yisrael, the Temple was not merely collective memory; it was a personal memory, and he was prepared to publicly share that vignette….