There is a verse in the Gospel that says:

“And when Jesus [during the Crucifixion] had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…” [1]

A 20th-century Christian writer, A.W. Tozer, wrote of this:

“[In the Temple, a veil separated the outer room] from the Holy of Holies where above the mercy seat dwelt the very God Himself in awful and glorious manifestation. While the tabernacle [or temples] stood, only the high priest could enter there, and that but once a year…It was this last veil that was rent when [Jesus] gave up the ghost on Calvary…this rending of the veil opened the way for every worshiper in the world to come…straight into the divine Presence.” [2]   

So, when the veil in the temple was torn, or “rent,” the entire world (or universe, or creation) became the Holy of Holies.

You might ask why I’m quoting this here.

I liked Pastor Tozer’s interpretation of his scripture. I like the image of the entire creation as “The Holy of Holies,” if we would only recognize it and respond to the truth of it. I have written before, myself, about the creation as “The Garden of Eden,” of which “The Holy of Holies” is our best reminder. It means that God’s Presence is a direct, personal experience, just as it was for the high priest in the Holy of Holies, or for Adam and Eve in Gan Eiden before they made their terrible error in judgement, or for Mosheh at Mt. Sinai (which the high priest’s entrance into the Holy of Holies re-enacts). 

Pastor Tozer wrote of the “tearing of the curtain” as the rending of the separation between the holy and the mundane. If so, isn’t the destruction of the entire building even more so?

What before had been necessarily secreted within the Temple’s walls is now open to all of creation. We can look on the destruction of the Temple as a release of the experience of the Divine from limitation of time or place, without in any way denying or ignoring the sadness and tragedy of the Temple’s loss to us. 

It is also poignant in this regard to see the same imagery re-stated in a Muslim context:

“…the Quran is our Holy of Holies.” [3]

The writer is saying: Just as Mosheh experienced God’s Presence as manifest in the world on Mt. Sinai, just as the high priest experienced God’s Presence as manifest in the Holy of Holies, just as Christianity teaches that the crucifixion of Jesus brings the experience of God’s manifest Presence to believers, so the Quran, when read heartfully by a Muslim, is the experience of God’s manifest Presence.

This is no less true for anyone, of any tradition or no tradition at all, who genuinely experiences God’s manifest Presence: They rediscover that they are living, as it were, in the Holy of Holies.

Tisha b’Av, which commemorates the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Temples, occurs this year (2018) on Saturday night, July 21st, and extends through Sunday, July 22nd at sundown. It occurred to me, teaching about Tisha b’Av a few days ago, that we, as Jews, might look on the destruction of the Temple in much the same light as Pastor Tozer does. History testifies that the destruction of the Temple was not the end of Jewish worship. Rather, it has allowed for Jewish worship to be done anywhere, at any time. 

And, as the Baal Shem Tov emphasized:
In everything we do, not only in the formal service in the synagogue. 


[1] Matthew 27:50-51
[2] Tozer, A.W.; The Pursuit of God; p. 36
[3] from:
see also: