On Chanukah we light the menorah and on Passover we eat matzah. But what is Yom Kippur all about? Well, though there are a lot of don'ts associated with the holiest day of the year — eating, drinking, leather footwear, bathing, etc. — Yom Kippur is most associated with praying, long prayer services that occupy most of the hours of the holiday.

Interestingly, prayer is barely mentioned in the Biblical instructions for Yom Kippur. Instead, the Torah devotes an entire chapter to the procedure of the Holy Temple service on Yom Kippur, a service that was unmatched on any other holiday in terms of length, arduousness and detail. The highlight of the Yom Kippur Temple service was the convergence of the holiest elements of time, space, and life form. On the holiest day of the year, the holiest person — the High Priest — entered the holiest place on earth, the Holy of Holy chamber in the Temple sanctuary, where he would pray on behalf of all his Jewish brethren and secure their atonement.

The goal of the Yom Kippur prayer service is to access the Holy of Holies of this templeToday we have no Temple service, so instead we pray. With our prayers we attempt to replicate, in spiritual terms, the Holy Temple service, and hopefully thus to elicit the same result, the same atonement, which was effected by the Temple service of yore.

Every Jewish person is a potential temple for G‑d, and every individual is the serving high priest in his or her personal temple. The goal of the Yom Kippur prayer service is to access the Holy of Holies of this temple.

The Holy of Holies housed the golden Ark which contained the holy Tablets. The Tablets were unique in that the Ten Commandments were etched into them, unlike a Torah Scroll whose words are penned on its surface. G‑d's word was part of its very fabric, not an added component which was appended to its being. To erase the words would be to destroy the Tablets themselves.

Throughout the year we serve G‑d with our "external," conscious, faculties. We connect with Him with our minds, by attempting to comprehend Him and His messages. We work on creating a warm and emotional relationship with Him through contemplating on His greatness and His kindness towards us. But the human mind and heart are fickle at best — they are add-on software, not the soul itself — and the relationship that results from their efforts is, therefore, akin to ink on parchment, subject to fading and even erasure.

The innermost "chamber" of the Jewish soul, however, its Holy of Holies essence, shares a Tablet-like connection with G‑d. At our core we are connected to G‑d not by virtue of any effort, nor does the relationship require cultivation — it is who we are, "a veritable part of G‑d Himself."

And on Yom Kippur we have the ability to access this normally sub-conscious chamber. In doing so, we refresh our relationship for the year to come, and we also have a reciprocal effect on G‑d. He is reminded that His relationship with us is also part and parcel of who He is. He can no more forsake us than we can forsake Him. And as such, no matter the transgressions of the past year, G‑d grants His children atonement and seals them in the Books of Life and Prosperity.

Throughout the year, the high priest was bedecked in resplendent attire while performing his duties. The high priest's vestments featured gold, an array of precious stones, and the finest materials. When entering the Holy of Holies, however, the high priest was clad in simple, pristine white linen garments. Not a touch of opulence or grandeur.

Let us not erroneously assume that we lack the qualifications, the magnificent deeds or impressive Torah knowledge, to enter the Holy of Holies this Yom Kippur. All that is needed is purity of heart and mind, a readiness to start anew.