We have learned: "from all your sins before G‑d" [on Yom Kippur, all of one's sins are purified]. If he already wrote, "...from all your sins," why [are the words] "before G‑d" [added]? But Rabbi Yitzhak said, truly "...before G‑d", [for Israel receives purity from bina which is before and above Zeir Anpin, signified here by 'G‑d'].

We have learned that from the new moon [of Tishrei, i.e. from Rosh Hashanah] the books are open and the judges judge. On each day the courts are granted [the power] to open trials [and judge the world] until that day known as the ninth of the month [of Tishrei, the day before Yom Kippur]. On that day, all judicial decisions go up to the Master of Judgment [bina, as all judgments originate from it but in itself it is full of mercy]. They prepare a supernal throne of mercy for the Holy King. On this day, Israel need to rejoice in joy [to eat and drink, assured in their repentance and coming absolution] before their Master that the following day He will be prepared to sit on His holy throne of mercy for them, His throne of absolution.

And all these books which are are open before Him and wherein all these sins are recorded before Him, He credits them and purifes them from them all. This is what it means:, "From all your sins before G‑d, you shall be purified." "Before G‑d" literally [through bina]. Those [standing in the courtyard of the Holy Temple] that recite this verse [together with the High Priest on Yom Kippur] are permitted to do so only to this point, but no more, as no one else is permitted to announce "that you may be clean" but the High Priest who performs the Temple service and connects and unifies the Holy Name with his mouth. When the Holy Name is unified and blessed by his mouth, then that [spiritual] voice [of Zeir Anpin] comes down, strikes him and illuminates the word in the mouth of the priest, and he says, "That you may be clean" [and all Israel receive an abundance of purity from the divine unification]. He performs his service and thus the rest of the supernal beings are blessed.

Afterwards, he immerses his body [in a mikva] and sanctifies his hands [by washing them in the Kiyor, in preparation for] another holy service, until he intends to enter another most holy, lofty place [the Holy of Holies]. Three rows surround him: his colleague priests [standing for chesed], Levites [standing for gevura], and the rest of the people [standing for tiferet]. All bless him and raise their hands towards him in prayer [that he may enter the Holy of Holies in peace and leave in peace]. A knot of gold hangs from his leg [so if he died in the Holy of Holies, they could pull him out by this chain of gold].

lights the incense and

He takes three steps, and [the other priests accompany him to the Temple building, and then] all remain where they are and do not follow. He takes another three steps and [the Shechinah which is] inscribed on G‑d's heart [precedes him] to Her place [above the Cherubs]. He walks three paces, closes his eyes [to not see the radiance of the Shechinah] and connects to that which is Above [in the world of Atzilut] He enters that certain place [the Holy of Holies]. He hears the sound of wings of the Cherubs, singing [to G‑d] and beating their wings that are stretched upward. When he would offer the incense, the sound of their wings quieted and they silently were unified.

If the priest merits, then joy prevails Above. Here [below] as well, at that time the supernal goodwill, scented with the fragrance of mountains of the pure supernal balsam, shines and fills that entire place. It [the fragrance] enters the two nostrils of the priest and his heart is satisfied [that his service was accepted]. Then there is silence and the Accuser has naught to say. The priest opens his mouth in prayer willingly and with joy, and he utters his prayer.

After he finishes, the Cherubs raise their wings as before and sing. Then the priest realizes that goodwill prevails, a time of joy for all and the people know that his prayer was accepted [by seeing the hanging scarlet thread turn to white], as the verse reads, "Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." (Isaiah 1:18) He steps back and utters his prayer. How fortunate is the share of the priest. As a result of him, there is joy upon joy that day on high and low. Concerning that hour, it is written, "Fortunate is that people, that is in such is for them, fortunate is that people, that G‑d is their G‑d." (Psalms 144:15)

BeRahamim LeHayyim: What does the above mean to you, and why is it revealed to you now?

All of the motions done by the High Priest had tremendous supernal effect. Here is a secret: so too is the Stand-Up, Sit-Down, hold your tzitzit, kiss your tzitzit, drop your tzitzit, touch your tefillin, kiss your fingers, touch your mezuzah, kiss your mezuzah, walk back 3 steps, and walk forward 3 steps, etc. of the daily observant prayer ritual. These actions were designed to mimic the above recount of the Priestly Service. To miss any of this sacred dance or to not have concentration to do so must therefore affect the service performed below. While some may scoff at these ritual acts, it must be that they too resound above. To be mindful is the key. Whatever one does with this intention, such is beloved by G‑d.

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
Copyright 2003 by KabbalaOnline.org, a project of Ascent of Safed (//ascentofsafed.com). All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.