Condolences to Julian Gillis & family on the passing of Mrs Valerie Gillis.

JBD – Jews of the Melbourne CBD is now on LinkedIn. Follow us here.

Times: Shabbat starts on Friday at 5:18 pm and ends on Saturday night at 6:15 pm. The weekly Torah portion is Acharei Mot and Shabbat Mevarchim Iyar. Rosh Chodesh is on Sunday and Monday.

Mincha in the CBD: Mincha continues at Warlow’s Legal – 2/430 Lt Collins St. Join the WhatsApp group to stay across the latest details.

Study: The Weekly Shiur continues on Wednesday at about 1.15pm (after mincha) at Warlow’s Legal – 2/430 Lt Collins St. – and via Zoom. Current topic: worker eating rights. Details here and on the WhatsApp group.

Thought of the Week with thanks to Mandi Katz.  The reading this week begins with the vivid and detailed description of the Temple service conducted on Yom Kippur originally by Aharon and later by the Kohen Gadol – the High Priest – to cleanse the community of all sin as the Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies and then finally sent a scapegoat into the wilderness. A plain reading of the text captures the intensity, drama, and holiness of the service, as well as the sense of release and a new beginning that it provided.

Following the destruction of the Temple, the rabbis responded to the new reality by establishing liturgy and practices to replace Temple rituals and their purpose in people’s lives – in this instance, the work of collective and individual atonement.

This passage from Vayikrah, together with the text on the same subject in Mishna Yoma, became the basis of the Seder Ha’avodah in the machzor – a dramatic retelling of the service which forms a large part of the Yom Kippur musaf service.  Like the Pesach Seder, the service provides an experiential link to the past – a way of re-living memory through a liturgical substitution for the original experience.

Jewish creativity did not end with the original liturgy; in the middle ages, piyyutim were added to the service which add to its drama and beauty and bring dimensions of joy and song – culminating in the uplifting prayer Mar’eh Kohen, which in many places is sung to a melody that powerfully captures the sense of release and relief offered by the service.

That creativity has continued and is beautifully evident in a song released in 2019 by Israeli musician Ishay Ribo re-telling the service in a song, which became a major success, and gave renewed meaning to an ancient practice. Ribo’s stirring poetry and music in his piece Seder Ha’avodah have given the ritual new life, and made it accessible for a new generation, so that a song about a Temple service and priests who are no longer, about animal sacrifice in an era of the virtue of veganism, has been played literally many millions of times all over the Jewish world. Ribo’s song also helps us see in the Seder Ha’avodah its collective focus and its joy as enumerated in the piyyutim and reminds us of the hope it offers as we sing of the splendour of the Kohen Gadol as he left the holy of Holies unharmed, having fulfilled his responsibilities to atone for the community.

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