It was dawn. We were watching the sun rise over the desert landscape.
“Kedem,” said the teacher. “It’s Hebrew for east, a most critical direction.”
“Why?” I asked.
“The Temple of Jerusalem was built according to the kedem. It had to face the east. The altar of the sacrifice was at its easternmost end. The holy of holies was at its westernmost end. Everything else was in between. So everything in the Temple existed on an east-west continuum.
Everything that took place in the Temple took place on an east-west continuum. Most importantly, on the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur, the sins of Israel were atoned for, removed from the people, on an east-west continuum. The high priest would offer up the sacrifice in the east, and then sprinkle the blood on the ark of the covenant in the west. He would journey back and forth on an east-west continuum. And the closing act of the day would see the sins of the people symbolically removed from the west to the east.”
“But why is that more significant than if it was a north-south continuum?”
“Because,” said the teacher, “the earth is a sphere … and it turns on its axis on an east-west continuum. Therefore, the earth has a north pole and a south pole, but no east or west pole.”
“I still don’t understand.”
“How far is the north from the south?” he asked. “Since there are two poles, the distance is limited. All north comes to an end at the North Pole. And all south ends at the South Pole. If the Temple had been built on a north-south continuum, then sin would have been removed a few thousand miles from the sinner.
But how far is the east from the west? East and west have no poles. Therefore, they never end. East and west are infinite. They go on forever. In fact, the Hebrew word for the east, kedem, also means everlasting.”
“But back then no one knew the earth was a sphere.”
“God did. And all this is a shadow of the atonement of Messiah, our salvation. So in Messiah, how far does God remove your sins from you? An infinity away … an eternity away. And if you had all eternity, you could never find them again. As it is written, ‘So far has He removed our sins away from us … as far as the east is from the west.'”
The Mission: Today, take time to ponder and take in the love of God that removed your sins as far as the east is from the west – and live accordingly.
(Book of Mysteries by Jonathan Cahn)