It’s amazing how history repeats itself – or almost does. Second Kings Chapter 22 tells us that in 622 B.C.E. King Josiah of Judah ordered builders, carpenters, and masons to make repairs to and expand the Temple in Jerusalem. The Priest Hilkiah just happened to be wandering through the construction site one day when something amazing happened. He spotted a book in the debris. It turns out that the book was a long lost book of laws (possibly the Book of Deuteronomy) which nobody knew existed. King Josiah heard it read and found to his amazement that the laws described in the book were the very ones God had wanted the Judeans to follow all along. Then, to make this discovery even more remarkable, it turns out that the laws were exactly the same as the laws King Josiah wanted to institute in order to begin a political and religious revolution.
What a coincidence! And how convenient! King Josiah managed to enlarge the Temple and gain Divine justification for his revolutionary changes all at the same time, assuming that is what happened. Most commentators are skeptical about this “lucky find” and wonder who the operative was that planted the book at Josiah’s urging.
How then does history almost repeat itself? We too have been doing construction at our Temple. And while we have not discovered any lost books, we have discovered a new set of High Holy Day prayer books just released by the Reform Movement. The two books in the set are called Mishkan Hanefesh. One is for Rosh Hashanah and the other is for Yom Kippur. I am excited about praying from them during the upcoming High Holy Days. The services sound both familiar and refreshingly new.
If you would like to memorialize and/or honor family and friends or to note special events, consider purchasing bookplates for the Temple copies. The cost is $40 per set (the same name or event goes into both books in the set.) Just submit your requested inscription and include it with your $40 donation to the Temple’s Prayer Book Fund. These bookplates will preserve your sentiments for decades to come.