The Sealed Room by ראובן פפר


This week’s Sedra discusses the Yom Kippur service and says, דבר אל אהרן אחיך ואל יבא בכל עת אל הקדש מבית לפרכת אל פני הכפרת אשר על הארון ולא ימות כי בענן אראה על הכפרת., “Speak to your brother Aharon, he should not come at any time into the Kodesh, behind the curtain, before the cover that is on the Aron, and he will not die, for I [Hashem] will appear on the cover” (16:2).  We see that Aharon cannot come into the Kodesh Hakodashim anytime he wants to do so lest he die.  Even the Kohen Gadol cannot take advantage of Yom Kippur and enter the Kodesh Hakodashim whenever he wants.

First we must understand what happens when the Kohen Gadol enters the Kodesh Hakodashim.  The Rav, zt”l, says that Kedusha thrives in העלם, hiddenness, and not on ,גלוי openness.  On Yom Kippur something special happens.  There is a convergence of the three dimensions of Kedusha.  The holiness of time - Yom Kippur, the holiness of the place - Kodesh Hakodashim, and the holiness of the personality - the Kohen Gadol.  These three facets converge into one exalted Kedusha.  If the masses came into the Kodesh Hakodashim it would lose its character of Kedusha, because Kedusha does not prosper in the presence of the masses. 

There has to be a measure of Tzniut, modesty, as the natural environment of Kedusha is in the hidden.

By the Pasuk saying ואל יבא בכל עת, we see that the situation is more extreme.  The Kohen Gadol can only enter at a specific time on Yom Kippur.  The Rambam says only when the Kohen Gadol deals with the incense service can he enter the Kodesh Hakodashim, otherwise he will die.  So this does not even refer to the masses but the Kohen Gadol himself.  Just as the Rav said Kedusha thrives in “העלם,” hiddenness, so too entering the Kodesh Hakodashim at the improper time violates Hashem’s hiddeness, His Tzniut.

We can now derive that if one enters the Kodesh Hakodashim at the wrong time he will be overwhelmed with Kedusha.  It will be too much of a spiritual experience that any person’s, even the Kohen Gadol’s, soul will jump out of its body and return to its source, Hashem.  This is the same overwhelming experience that took place on Har Sinai.  The Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l, explained that Bnai Yisrael were so overwhelmed by the Kedusha that they lost all connection to their physical reality, and their souls left their bodies and returned to Hashem.  This is also what happened to Nadav and Avihu.  They got so carried away with their service in the Mishkan that their high level of spirituality caused their soul to disconnect from their bodies and they died.

Rav Kook, zt”l, saw this problem and explains that in this world we need to create a unity of body and soul.  Therefore, a person’s will must be in accordance with his inner direction to the profound depths of Hashem.  The unified personality is one that binds the internal and external but centers on the inner worlds in order to control and direct the random forces of everyday activity in the way we can overcome death by Tikkun

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