Elul Reflections: 15 Elul 5777

Opening the Ark

Opening the ark on Rosh HaShana may feel like a very ordinary honour. You don’t have to prepare for it. It’s just walking up and opening the curtain. It’s easy. You don’t have to speak Hebrew. You don’t have to sing. You don’t have to say anything! You just walk up and pull the string. After you pull the string you are thanked by the service leaders and the congregation pats you on the back as you return to your seat. All you did was open a curtain. What’s the big deal?

It is a big deal. Opening the ark on Rosh HaShana is something wonderful and amazing.

The curtain of the ark is pulled open and the pageantry and ritual of the High Holidays begins. The rich liturgy, the sounding of the shofar, the Torah readings, the readings from the Prophets, Kol Nidre, Jonah…We have no access to the wisdom and knowledge of the Torah until the ark is opened.

Opening the ark is the beginning of the awesome days. When the ark is opened the holiness of our tradition shines out. Opening the ark on Rosh HaShana opens us up to the work of Teshuvah that will occupy us for the next ten days and through Yom Kippur.

This is one of the holiest moments in the service.

When the ark is opened, something opens inside of us. We rise as a congregation. It is an awesome moment. And a great honour.

--Mashpia JoEllen Duckor


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