Holy of Holies: A Brief Overview

Most people would be at a loss to define the word "holy". Yet, the word "kodesh" in Hebrew, usually translated as "holy", literally means "separate". This can be on many levels, but is most often taken to mean separate from our mundane, physical existence. This separation can be seen in terms of the "Jewish coordinates": place, time or person.

Holiness of Place is discussed in the Oral Tradition (Mishnah Kelim 1:6 – 1: ) where 10 levels of holiness within the land of Israel are discussed:

    1 Walled Cities

    2 Inside the Walls of Jerusalem

    3 The Temple Mount

    4 through 8 – Various areas and Courtyards of the Temple

    9  Heichal – The room in the Temple which houses the Menorah, Table with Show           Breads, and Incense Altar

    10 The Holy of Holies – The innermost part of the Temple where the Holy Ark was             located.

The Core of the Holy of Holies is the Holy Ark, and inside the Ark were the tablets that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai. Essentially, the supreme holiness in this world, ultimate in separation from mundane physicality, lies in the Tablets, upon which were inscribed the 10 Commandments: those 10 broad categories that include all the commandments of the Bible. This is really the center of Judaism. Whenever a Jew prays, they face the Holy of Holies, for therein lies the key to our connection with the Infinite.