Yom Kippur: The Avodah Service

September 2, 2013
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  1. How does Judaism support the notion of “calling” — that is, how do we draw on our own talents and strengths to be of “service” to our selves, our families, our communities, and the world?
  2. Avodah” means “work,” “prayer,” and “service.” How does the building of the mishkan, the tabernacle, become emblematic of “work” and “service” to God? And how does that service to God inform and challenge our contemporary understanding of freedom?
  3. What does it mean to pray, as we do in the Yom Kippur Musaf, for the restoration of sacrifices and Temple worship, when most of us don’t really want them re-instituted?
  4. The Avodah service is recited by the High Priest in the Holy of Holies. How does this historical hierarchy serve in the dramatic moment of our liturgy? How do you wrestle with hierarchies of holiness (such as aliyot for Kohen, Levi, and Yisrael) in your community?
  5. 5. When we historicize our difficult liturgy, do we diminish its power? How might we get closer to the texture, drama, and power of some of our more difficult prayers?
  6.  Sometimes a New Year provides opportunities to “try on” a new behavior. What might you experiment with this year?
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