In ancient times there were holy places.
The land of Israel was holy.
Holier still was Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem the holiest site was the Temple.
And within the temple was a place supremely sacred: the holy of holies.
Then there's holy time.
There are festivals.
Holier still is Shabbat.
And holier than that is Shabbat Shabbaton, the Sabbath of Sabbaths, Yom Kippur. The day of atonement.
And there are holy people.
Israel is called goi kadosh, a holy nation.
Within it the holiest of tribes were the leviim, the levites.
Among the leviim were people holier still, the cohanim, priests.
And among priests was one holier than all others, the cohen gadol, the high priest.
And once a year the holiest man entered holiest place on the holiest day and sought atonement for all Israel.
But then the temple was destroyed. Jerusalem reduced to ruins. There were no more sacrifices, no more high priest.
What remained? Just the day itself. And us, the Jewish people.
Wherever we pray becomes a mikdash me'at, a fragment of the temple.
Every prayer said from the heart is like a sacrifice.
And God listens to each of us as if we were the high priest.
All we have is the service of the heart.
And the knowledge that God listens to every word that comes from the heart.
Shema koleinu. Dear God, Hear our voice,
For we have nothing to give You but our prayers.
"Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a kind of clarion call, a summons to the Ten Days of Penitence which culminate in the Day of Atonement... Yom Kippur is the supreme moment of Jewish time, a day of fasting and prayer, introspection and self-judgement. At no other time are we so sharply conscious of standing before God, of being known."
To help prepare for the New Year, the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has recorded a series of ten thought-provoking videos, each reflecting on a particular idea associated with this time in the Jewish calendar or on an individual prayer said on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur.