Archive for April 2013

Parashat Emor

Parashat Emor

VaYikra 21:1 - 24:23

Parashat Summary

Laws Regulating the Lives and Sacrifices of the Kohanim
The Set Times of the Jewish Calendar are Named and Described: the Shabbat, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, and the Pilgrimage Festivals of Pesach, Shavu'ot, and Sukkot.
G-d Commands that Olive Oil be brought for Lighting the Menorah
Placement and Display of the Showbread are Explained
Laws Dealing with Profanity, Murder, and the Maiming of Others are Outlined

21:1 Vayomer HASHEM el-Moshe emor el-hakohanim benei Aharon ve'amarta alehem lenefesh lo-yitama be'amav
HASHEM said to Moshe, "Speak to the Kohanim, the sons of Aharon, and you shall say to them, let him not defile himself with the dead among the people.
The Torah here is speaking of the Kohanim.  The Kohanim had higher status then the other people because they were G-d's servants; they brought sacrifices to G-d.  That is why G-d gave them special commandments.

One of these commandments was that they should not defile themselves through any uncleanliness, especially through contact with the dead, which is the most severe uncleanliness.  A corpse is considered a "super-category" (Avi Avot) of defilement.

G-d told Moshe to tell the Kohanim that they may not come in contact with any corpse which is not among the close relatives because this would defile them.  The Kohanim, who were the religious leaders, could not become involved in burying the dead or similar concerns. (Abarbanel; Ir Miklat)

21:2 Ki im-lish'ero hakarov elav le'imo ule'aviv velivno ulevito ule'achiv
[The only] exception is his kin to whom he is closely related, for his mother and his father, for his son, his daughter and for his brother.
3 Vela'achoto habetulah hakrovah elav asher lo-hayetah le'ish lah yitama
For his virgin sister, to whom he is closely related, who has not yet been married, for her he may be defiled.
4 Lo yitama ba'al be'amav lehechalo
[However], a husband may not defile himself for his wife if she is legally unfit for him.
A Kohen may only defile himself for his sister as long as she is not married or betrothed.  However, if she is betrothed (me'ureset), or married, it is forbidden for him to defile himself to attend to her burial. (Yoreh Deah 373. See Rashi)


Laws of Priestly Defilement

A Kohen is forbidden to come into contact with anything unclean that is derived from a corpse, such as a limb, an olive-sized piece of flesh, or a bit of bone, even as small as barley.  A Kohen may not touch such articles or be in the same building with them.

It is likewise forbidden for a Kohen to touch a golel, which is a stone placed on a grave.  He may not touch the dofek, which is the structure of small stones placed around the large stone to support it. (Yoreh Deah 369; Sifra)  He is forbidden to touch these stones even if they are not directly attached to the grave. (Sheyarei Kenesset HaGedolah, Yoreh Deah 369)

It is also forbidden for a Kohen to touch a grave.

He may not touch an amputated limb of a live person.  As long as such a limb has enough flesh so that it could survive if it were attached to the body, it is forbidden.

Wherever there is a possibility that a grave may have existed, a Kohen may not enter that place. (Bet Yosef ibid.)

It is also forbidden for a Kohen to enter a house where there is a still-born child.  Therefore, if a woman miscarries, the fetus should be immediately taken out of the house and buried in a cemetery 

If a person is on his deathbed, or if he throat has been slit, severing both his esophagus and windpipe but he is still moving, a Kohen is permitted to be in the same room with him.  The same is true if someone has been stabbed many times.  As long as the person shows signs of life, the Kohen may remain in the same room until the person is obviously dead. (Yoreh Deah 370)

Nevertheless, it is forbiddden for a Kohen to enter a house where there is a person on his deathbed.  We are concerned that the person might die while the Kohen is still there. (Ibid. 371)

No matter how large the house is, if a corpse is inside, it is forbidden for a Kohen to enter it.


Permitted Relatives

There are some relatives with whom a Kohen may come into contact if they die.  It is even considered a virtuous deed for him to defile himself for them.

A Kohen may defile himself to care for his dead wife if they are completely married.  However, if he is merely betrothed he may not defile himself for his bride (arusah).

Furthermore, a Kohen may only defile himself for a wife who is permitted to him.  If he marries a woman who is not permitted to him, such as a harlot, a chalalah, or a divorcee, he is forbidden to defile himself for her sake.

It is also a virtuous deed for a Kohen to defile himself to care for the needs of his dead father, mother, son or daughter.  However, he may defile himself for his children only after they are thirty days old and it is known that they were able to survive.

The Kohen must also defile himself to care for his brother or sister.  In the case of a half brother or sister he may only do so if they have the same father.  If they only share a mother it is not permitted.

Furthermore, he may only defile himself for his sister if she is single.  If she is betrothed, and certainly if she is married, he may not.  If she was married and divorced he may again defile himself for her.

Even when a Kohen is defiling himself for the sake of his relatives, he is forbidden to defile himself for another corpse.

Therefore, if a Kohen is burying a close relative, he should make every effort to do it at the edge of the cenetery so as not to defile himself with other graves while he is involved with his relative.

If one of the above mentioned close relatives commits suicide, a Kohen may not defile himself to care for his burial.


The Mandated Corpse

If the corpse of a Jew is found in a place where there is no one else to bury it, it is considered a "mandated corpse" (met mitzvah)

Just as a Kohen must defile himself for his close relative so he must defile himself for a met mitzvah.  Even in the time of the Holy Temple, when there was a Kohen Gadol, if the Kohen Gadol came across a met mitzvah he would have an obligation to bury him.

Even if the Kohen Gadol had still other degrees of sanctity, such as if he was a Nazarite (who also may not come into contact with the dead, BaMidbar 6:6), or if he was going to slaughter his Paschal Lamb or circumcise his son, he must put aside all observances and defile himself so as to bury the met mitzvah.

A met mitzvah is a Jewish corpse that is found along the wayside or in a gentile city, where there is no other Jew to bury it. As long as there are no other Jews who could be called to bury it, a Kohen must do so.  He may not leave the corpse alone to go and call others to bury it; he himself must do so.

If the place is close enough to Jews that he can call out to them and they will come, then the corpse is not considered a met mitzvah.  In such a case, the Kohen must call them and let them come.  He is forbidden to defile himself.

21:5 Lo-yikrechu korchah berosham ufe'at zekanam lo yegalechu uvivsaram lo yisretu saratet
They shall not make baldness on their heads and the corners of their beards they shall not shave, and they shall not make gashes in their flesh.
All these practices are also forbidden to ordinary Jews.  A Jew may also not shave off patches of his hair for the dead (Devarim 14:1).  He may also not shave (19:27) or gouge his skin for the dead (19:28).  However, if a Kohen does any of these practices he is guilty of violating two commandments rather than one. (Yoreh Deah 373:7; Sifetei Kohen 373:12.  See Hagah Ibid.)

21:6 Kedoshim yihyu le-Elokeihem velo yechalelu shem Elokeihem ki et ishei HASHEM lechem Elokeihem hem makrivim vehayu kodesh
They shall be holy to their G-d and they shall not profane the Name of their G-d, for [it is] the fire-offerings of HASHEM, the bread of their G-d [that] they bring [offer], and they must [therefore] be holy.
Here the Torah is commanding the courts, telling them that G-d commanded the Kohen to be holy.  If the courts see a Kohen who wishes to defile himself for a corpse, the courts have an obligation to teach him and explain to him that he should not do so.

This is because the Kohanim are G-d's servants and bring His sacrifices.  They must therefore be holy.  This also implies that they cannot marry just any woman they may desire.

21:7 Ishah zonah vachalalah lo yikachu ve'ishah grushah me'ishah lo yikachu ki-kadosh hu le-Elokav
A harlot or a profaned woman they shall not marry.  A woman divorced from her husband they shall not marry, for he is holy to his G-d.
The Torah says that a Kohen may not marry an "immoral woman" or a "zonah," (harlot).

 A zonah is defined as any woman who is married to a man who is forbidden to her, where there is a penalty of death, karet (being spiritually cut off), or flogging (malkot) for such a union.  In general, if it is forbidden for a man to marry a woman, the woman has the status of a zonah if she is so married.

Furthermore, if a woman has intercourse with a gentile or a gentile slave (belonging to a Jew) she becomes a zonah.  She also becomes a zonah if she has intercourse with a natin. A natin is a descendant of the Gevoni who misled the Benei Yisrael in the time of Yohoshua (9:3-27)

If a woman has intercourse with a mamzer, the child of an incestuous or adulterous union, she is again a zonah.  The same is true if she has intercourse with an Ammoni or Moavi or their children, even if they have converted to Judaism. This is true whether it is a first generation proselyte form these nations or any of their descendants.  (Devarim 23:4).  The same is true if she has intercourse with an Egyptian or an Edomi who have converted to Judaism. (Devarim 23:9) or any of their descendants.

A woman also becomes a zonah if she has intercourse with someone with damaged genitals (Devarim 23:2). If a woman has intercourse with a chalal she also becomes a zonah.  A chalal is a son born to a Kohen by a woman forbidden to him.

If a woman marries any man who is forbidden to her she becomes a zonah.

It goes without saying that if a woman fornicates with a close relative or with anyone else in a case where the penalty would be karet or death she has the status of zonah.

A woman convert to Judaism also has the automatic status of a zonah and is forbidden to a Kohen.  This is true even if she became a convert to Judaism as a young child.

A Kohen may also not marry a chalalah.  A chalalah is defined as a widow who married a Kohen Gadol, who is forbidden to her (21:14).  Such a woman is forbidden to every Kohen.

Similarly, if a common Kohen marries a zonah or divorcee, and she gives birth to a daughter, both the daughter and her mother have the status of chalalah.

If a Kohen Gadol marries one of these women or a widow, and a daughter is born, both the mother and daughter have the status of a chalalah and no Kohen may marry them.

It is likewise forbidden for a Kohen to marry a divorcee.  It makes no difference whether she was actually married and divorced or merely betrothed as an arusah and divorced.

There are therefore three categories of women who are forbidden to every Kohen, whether a common kohen or a Kohen Gadol. If a Kohen marries any of these three women he incurs the penalty of flogging.  The three categories are:

  1. zonah
  2. chalalah
  3. divorcee
G-d commanded that the Kohen be very careful with regard to marriage.  They have a special status with regard to marriage because in the time of the Temple they had a special status in that only they were allowed to bring sacrifice.  Therefore G-d gave them extra commandments. (Rashi; Sifetei Chachamim)

21:8 Vekidashto ki-et-lechem Elokeicha hu makriv kadosh yihyeh-lach ki kadosh ani HASHEM mekadishchem
You shall make him holy for he offers the bread of your G-d; he shall be holy unto you for I, HASHEM, am holy, Who makes you holy.

Here the community is commanded to sanctify a Kohen even against his will.  Therefore the courts have the responsibility that if a Kohen marries a woman forbidden to him, they must coerce him to divorce her. (Sifra; Rashi)

21:9 Uvat ish kohen ki techel liznot et-aviha hi mechalelet ba'esh tisaref
The daughter of a Kohen, who profanes herself by fornication - she profanes her father - she shall be burned with fire.
The Torah here is speaking of a Kohen's daughter who is married or betrothed.  The law is if she commits adultery, the death penalty she is given is burning.  This is a very harsh death.  She is given such a harsh punishment for humiliating her father's position, since people will say, "Cursed is this man who gave birth to such a daughter." (Rashi; Sifra)

Since the girl comes from a family where her father serves G-d, the law is that she be killed in a different manner than other women who have committed adultry.  Normally, the penalty for adultery is death by strangulation which is a more humane form of death. (Abarbanel)

21:10 Vehakohen hagadol me'echav asher-yutzak al-rosho shemen hamishchah umile et-yado lilbosh et-habegadim et-rosho lo yifra uvgadav lo yifromThe Kohen who is greatest among his brethren upon whose head was poured the anointing oil; whose hands were consecrated to put on the special garments; shall not let his hair grow wild and he shall not tear his garments.
Here the Torah is speaking about the Kohen Gadol whose head is anointed with the special oil and who was inaugurated by wearing the eight vestments of the Kohen Gadol (Parashat Tetzaveh).  In some respects, different laws apply to him than to other Kohanim.

The law is that no Kohen may enter the sanctuary area of the Temple (farther in than the altar) if his hair is grown.  A Kohen's hair is considered "grown" if he has gone thirty days without a haircut.  He's also forbidden to go in if any of his vestments are torn as a garment is torn for the dead.

If a Kohen enters the Mishkan during the time of the service, and he is fit for service but has not had a proper haircut, or his vestments are torn, he incurs the penalty of flogging.  If he performs the Divine Service while in such a state he is deserving of death. (Yad, Biyat HaMikdash 1)

This, however, is only true of ordinary common Kohanim.  The Kohen Gadol may not let thirty days go without a haircut in any case.  He is also forbidden to rend his garments for the dead. (Ibid.; Yad, Klei HaMikdash 5)

This is because the Kohen Gadol had to be in the Holy Temple at all times.  He actually had a special chamber where he lived.  It is proper for the Kohen Gadol to be in the Temple at all times except at night when he would go home, or for one or two hourse during the day.  Moreover, the Kohen Gadol had to live in Yerushalayim.  Since he lived in Yerushalayim he could not go more than thirty days without a haircut.

Normally, the Kohen Gadol would have his hair cut every Friday afternoon.

The Kohen Gadol's haircut was made in a special, beautiful manner. (Nedarim, p. 51)  It was done so that the tip of one hair would touch the root of the hair next to it.  Each hair was cut to exactly the same length.

The Talmud tells that Elasha, the son-in-law of Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi, who was extremely wealthy, spent all his money trying to learn how to get a haircut like the Kohen Gadol's. (Rad ad loc.  Commentary of Rosh ad loc.)

21:11 Ve'al kol-nafshot met lo yavo le'aviv ule'imo lo yitama
And adjacent to any dead body he shall not enter.  For his father and mother he shall not become [ritually] impure.
12 Umin-hamikdash lo yetze velo yechalel et mikdash Elokav ki nezer shemen mishchat Elokav alav ani HASHEM
He shall not depart from the Sanctuary and he shall not profane his G-d's Sanctuary, for the crown of his G-d's anointing oil is upon him, I am HASHEM.
Among the additional prohibitions incumbent upon a Kohen Gadol is that he not defile himself for any dead person, even for his father and mother.  Although a common Kohen may defile himself for close relatives, the Kohen Gadol may not.  The only case in which a Kohen Gadol may defile himself is if he comes across a met mitzvah, as discussed earlier.

21:13 Vehu ishah vivetuleiha yikach
He shall marry [only] a virgin.
14 Almanah ugrushah vachalalah zonah et-eleh lo yikach ki im-betulah me'amav yikach ishah
A widow, divorcee, profaned woman or harlot; he may not marry [any] of these. But only a virgin from his own people may he marry.
15 Velo-yechalel zar'o be'amav ki ani HASHEM mekadesho
He shall not profane his offspring among his people, for I am HASHEM, who makes him holy."
Besides the three women mentioned earlier, the immoral woman, the divorcee and the chalalah, who are forbidden to the common Kohen, the Kohen Gadol is also forbidden to marry a widow.  If a Kohen Gadol has intercourse with a widow he incurs a double penalty of flogging.

A Kohen Gadol may only marry a virgin.

The Kohen Gadol must be greater and better than the other Kohanim in five respects:
  1. stature
  2. strength
  3. wealth
  4. intelligence
  5. appearance
All of these are qualities that a leader of Yisrael should have.  

The Kohen Gadol should be tall so that he can draw people to him.  They will listen to his advice and his admonishment.  We thus find that King Sha'ul is praised as it is written, "He was head and shoulders taller than all the people" (1Shmu'el 9:2)

It is also fitting that the Kohen Gadol be wealthy.  If he is wealthy, he does not have to depend on anyone else and has no fear of them.  People will then listen to his corrections.  However, if he depends on others for  his support, people will not listen to him just as we see today.  If a Torah scholar needs help from others, people who are not G-d-fearing do not listen to him and are disrespectful.

A leader must also have physical strength so he can lead and judge people.  The Kohen Gadol would also have to be physically strong to bring the sacrifices.  We thus find that Aharon physically lifted up all the Levi'im one by one with his two hands.  He lifted them up and waved them in all four directions just as we wave a lulav.  This was done at G-d's command (Parashat BeHa'alotecha - BaMidbar 8:11).  One can imagine how strong Aharon must have been to wave twenty-two thousand men in single day.

The Kohen Gadol also would have to be intelligent so that he could lead the people.

He would also have to have charisma so that people would want to listen to him.

Regarding all this the Torah speaks of the Kohen Gadol as "the great Kohen among his brothers."  He must be greater than his fellow Kohanim in every positive quality.

If the Kohen Gadol has four of the qualities but does not have wealth  the other Kohanim must make him wealthy, each one giving a certain amount according to his ability so that the Kohen Gadol will be wealthier than the others.  The Torah literally speaks of him as "the great Kohen from his brothers."  This means that if he does not have the fifth quality, wealth, his greatness, which his his wealth, must come from his brothers.

It is told that Pinchas, the stonecutter, was once chosen by lot to be Kohen Gadol.  He was very poor and people saw him cutting stones on the mountain to earn a living.  The Kohanim filled up a huge basket of golden coins and made him wealthy. (Tanchuma; Sifra; Yalkut Shimoni; Korban Aaron)

21:16 Vayedaber HASHEM el-Moshe lemor
HASHEM spoke to Moshe, saying,
17 Daber el-Aharon lemor ish mizar'acha ledorotam asher yihyeh vo mum lo yikrav lehakriv lechem Elokav
"Speak to Aharon saying, Anyone of your offspring, through [all] their generations who will have a blemish, shall not approach to offer the bread of his G-d.
The Torah here tells the Kohen that any one of them who has any the designated blemishes is not fit to the enter the Temple to bring a sacrifice or to perform any other service.  Since he is blemished, it is not proper that he should bring an offering to G-d.

21:18 Ki chol-ish asher-bo mum lo yikrav ish iver o fise'ach o charum o sarua
For any man who has a blemish shall not approach; a blind man or a lame man, or a man with a sunken nose, or a man who has disproportionate limbs,
 The Torha enumerates the blemishes that render a Kohen invalid to do service, including blindness or any lameness.

Another deformity is a "misshapen nose" (charum).  Specifically, this is a blemish where the bride of one's nose is very depressed.  In fact, if he were to stroke eye shadow on the lids, he would be able to pass the applicator across from one to the other, without the bride of the nose intervening.

The Torah also specifies a Kohen with a misshapen limb (saru'a).  This specifically refers to a person who has an enlarged limb.  This includes a person who has one ear larger than the other or one leg larger than the other.

21:19 O ish asher-yihyeh vo shever ragel o shever yad
or a man who has broken [crippled] foot, or a broken [crippled] hand,
20 O-giben o-dak o tevalul be'eino o garav o yalefet o mero'ach ashech
or one with overhanging eyebrows, or with a cataract, or a disarrangement [in the eye], or one with scurf or scabs, or one with crushed testicles.
The Torah specifies anyone who has a broken arm or leg, as well as a hunchback (gibben).  Some say this denotes someone who has very long eyelashes; they are so long that they fall on his face.

In Hebrew a "dwarf" is a "dak."  Some say this denotes one who has a membrane of film over the eye.

The Torah then speaks of one who has a blemish known as a tevalul in his eye. This specifically denotes a streak of white entering into the iris of the eye.

Eczema in Hebrew is "garav."  This is a dry skin infection, in general.

Also mentioned is a ringworm (yalefet).  This is a running skin infection.

Finally, the Torah designates one who has a hernia (meroach ashech).  This can also denote crushed testicles.

If a person has any of these blemishes or other blemishes that come under the above categories, he is unfit for Divine Service.  Nevertheless, as the Torah continues, he may eat of the sacrifices.

21:21 Kol-ish asher-bo mum mizera Aharon hakohen lo yigash lehakriv et-ishei HASHEM mum bo et lechem Elokav lo yigash lehakriv
Any man who has a blemish, who is a descendant of Aharon the Kohen, shall not approach to offer the fire-offerings of HASHEM.  He has a blemish; the bread of his G-d he may not approach to offer.
22 Lechem Elokav mikodeshei hakodashim umin-hakodashim yochel
The bread of his G-d which is the most holy, and from the holy [offerings] he may eat.
23 Ach el-haparochet lo yavo ve'el-hamizbe'ach lo yigash ki-mum bo velo yechalel et-mikdashai ki ani HASHEM mekadesham
However, he may not enter beyond the Curtain and he shall not approach the Altar for he has a blemish and he shall not profane My holy things, for I am HASHEM, Who sanctifies them."
24 Vayedaber Moshe el-Aharon ve'el-banav ve'el-kol-benei Yisra'el
Moshe spoke [these words] to Aharon, and to his sons and to all of the Children of Yisrael.
Even if a Kohen is blemished he may eat any sacrifices, including those considered "holy of holies" (kadshei ha-kadashim) or those of lesser sanctity (kadashim kalim).

Nevertheless, it is forbidden for a blemished priest to go farther into the sanctuary than the Altar.  If he even walks in that far he incurs the penalty of flogging. (Yad, Biyat HaMikdash 10)

22:1 Vayedaber HASHEM el-Moshe lemor
HASHEM spoke to Moshe, saying,
2 Daber el-Aharon ve'el-banav veyinazeru mikodeshei venei-Yisra'el velo yechalelu et-shem kodeshi asher hem makdishim li ani HASHEM
"Speak to Aharon and to his sons and let them keep away from the holy offerings of the Children of Yisrael and they shall not profane My holy name which they sanctify for Me, I am HASHEM.
3 Emor alehem ledoroteichem kol-ish asher-yikrav mikol-zar'achem el-hakodashim asher yakdishu venei-Yisra'el l'HASHEM vetum'ato alav venichretah hanefesh hahi milfanai ani HASHEM
Say to them, Throughout your generations, any person of your offspring who will draw near to the holy things which the Children of Yisrael will sanctify to HASHEM [while] his impurity is on him that soul shall be cut off from My Presence, I am HASHEM.
Here the Torah warns the Kohanim that they should be extremely careful regarding the sacred offerings brought by the Benei Yisrael.  They must be very careful not to eat any sacrifices while ritually unclean.  They must similarly be careful not to eat the agricultural terumah offering while unclean.  If they do so, they incur a penalty of death by the Hand of G-d.

22:4 Ish ish mizera Aharon vehu tzarua o zav bakodashim lo yochal ad asher yithar vehanogea bechol-tme-nefesh o ish asher tetze mimenu shichvat-zara
Any man of Aharon's offspring, who has tzara'at or an impure flow, may not eat of the sacred things until he has purified himself.  [The same is true] of anyone who touches anything defiled by the dead, or anyone who has had a seminal emission,
5 O-ish asher yiga bechol-sheretz asher yitma-lo o ve'adam asher yitma-lo lechol tum'ato
or anyone who touches any creeping creature that causes impurity to him, or any person which causes impurity to him, [with] whatever impurity he has.
Here the Torah specifies the types of ritual uncleanliness that render a Kohen unfit to eat the terumah offering.  If any Kohen has a leprous mark (13:1-44) or a male discharge (15:1-15) he may not eat the terumah offering until he has purified himself. (Yad, Terumot 7)

Similary, if  Kohen touches another person who is defiled by the dead, he may not eat the terumah offering.  If a Kohen has a seminal emission, whether through intercourse or otherwise, he is likewise unclean (15:16-18). The same is true if he touches an unclean small animal (sheretz) which renders him unclean (11:29, 30).  In all these cases he may not eat the terumah offering until he has purified himself in the manner discussed below. (Rashi)

22: 6 Nefesh asher tiga-bo vetam'ah ad-ha'arev velo yochal min-hakodashim ki im-rachatz besaro bamayim
Anyone touching [that person] will be impure until the evening.  He shall not eat of the holy things unless he has washed his body in water.
7 Uva hashemesh vetaher ve'achar yochal min-hakodashim ki lachmo hu
When the sun sets, he is pure, and afterwards, he may eat of the holy things, for it is his bread.
The Torah now tells us that if a Kohen has come in contact with anything unclean, he must purify himself by immersing in a mikvah.  Even then, however, he may not eat his terumah offering until sunset.  At sunset he becomes ritually pure insofar as he may then eat his terumah offering.

22:8 Nevelah utrefah lo yochal letome'ah-vah ani HASHEM
An animal which has died on its own, or an animal that was fatally maimed, he must not eat to defile himself with it, I am HASHEM.
Just like any other person, a Kohen may not eat a nevelah, which is a creature that died on its own or which has otherwise not been properly slaughtered ritually.  He may also not eat an animal which as a fatal lesion (terefah).

He must also avoid eating a kosher bird which has not been ritually slaughtered.  This renders one unclean (17:15). (Yad, Terumot 6; Sifra)

22:9 Veshameru et-mishmarti velo-yis'u alav chet umetu vo ki yechaleluhu ani HASHEM mekadesham
They shall keep My charge lest they bear [the burden] of sin and die because of it for having profaned [it].  I am HASHEM Who makes them holy.
The Torah now teaches that the penalty for eating terumah while unclean is death by the Hands of G-d.

22:10 Vechol-zar lo-yochal kodesh toshav kohen vesachir lo-yochal kodesh
No stranger [non-Kohen] may eat holy things.  One indentured to a Kohen and one hired [by a Kohen] may not eat sacred-offerings.
Here the Torah teaches us that no person who is not a Kohen may eat the terumah (Terumah is the special agricultural offering that is given to the Kohanim).

As far terumah is concerned, even a Levi is considered unauthorized and may not eat of it.

If a non-Kohen inadvertently eats terumah, he must pay its value plus an additional 20 percent (22:14).  If he does so purposely, he incurs the penalty of death by the Hand of G-d as well as the penalty of flogging by the courts (22:16).

22:12 Uvat-kohen ki tihyeh le'ish zar hi bitrumat hakodashim lo tochel
When a Kohen's daughter marries a non-Kohen, the sacred terumah portions may not be eaten by her.
13 Uvat-kohen ki tihyeh almanah ugrushah vezera ein lah veshavah el-beit aviha kine'ureiha milechem aviha tochel vechol-zar lo-yochal bo
If a Kohen's daughter is either widowed or divorced, and she has no children, and she returns to her father's home as in her youth, she may eat of her father's bread.  No non-Kohen may eat of it.
Here the Torah tells us that a Kohen's daughter who marries a non-Kohen, that is, a Levi or common Yisraeli, may not longer eat anything taken from the sacrifices.  Thus, she may not eat the chest or leg taken from peace offerings and given to the Kohanim (7:34).   The Torah specifically states that a Kohen's daughter who has married a Levi or common Yisraeli may not eat this.

Even if her husband dies or divorces her she may not eat these portions for the rest of her life.

Furthermore, a Kohen's daughter may not eat terumah as long as she is married to her husband.  If she has offspring she may not eat terumah as long as her offspring are alive.  However, if she has no offspring, or they died, she may then return to her father's house and eat terumah.

If a Kohen's daughter marries someone who is forbidden to her, she becomes a chalalah and she may not longer eat terumah as long as she lives.  If she eats terumah she incurs the penalty of death by the Hand of G-d and she is also flogged.

22:17 Vayedaber HASHEM el-Moshe lemor
HASHEM spoke to Moshe, saying,
18 Daber el-Aharon ve'el-banav ve'el kol-benei Yisra'el ve'amarta alehem ish ish mibeit Yisra'el umin-hager beYisra'el asher yakriv korbano lechol-nidreihem ulechol-nidvotam asher-yakrivu l'HASHEM le'olah
"Speak to Aharon and to his sons and to all of the Children of Yisrael and say to them, Any man of the House of Yisrael, and from the proselytes of Yisrael who will bring his offering for any of their vows or for any of their free-will offerings that they will bring to HASHEM, for a burnt-offering.
19 Liretzonchem tamim zachar babakar baksavim uva'izim
To gain acceptance [it must be] an unblemished male of cattle, sheep or goats.
20 Kol asher-bo mum lo takrivu ki-lo leratzon yihyeh lachem
Anything that has a blemish on it you shall not bring, for it will not be accepted favorably for you.
21 Ve'ish ki-yakriv zevach-shlamim l'HASHEM lefale-neder o lindavah babakar o vatzon tamim yihyeh leratzon kol-mum lo yihyeh-bo
If a man will bring a peace-offering to HASHEM, to fulfill an articulated vow or free-will offering of cattle or of sheep, it shall be unblemished, that it be favorably accepted.  No blemish shall be in it.
 Here the Torah is speaking of any of the sacrifices which have been discussed earlier in Parashat VaYikra, whether the sacrifices is taken from cattle or smaller animals.  In any case the animal must be perfect without any blemish on it.

22:22 Averet o shavur o-charutz o-yabelet o garav o yalefet lo-takrivu eleh l'HASHEM ve'isheh lo-titnu mehem al-hamizbe'ach l'HASHEM
A blind, broken-limbed, cracked or wart[ed animal]; or [an animal] with scurf or scabs you shall not bring these to HASHEM; and as a fire-offering you shall not place of them on the Altar of HASHEM.
The Torah forbids a blind animal.  Similarly, the Torah prohibits an animal that is "broken-limbed" (shavur).  This is an animal that has any limb that is broken. (Sifra; Rashi)

The Torah also forbids an animal that is gashed (charutz).  This specifically denotes an animal which has a split or damaged eyelid.  The Torah also forbids an animal that has a wart (yabelet).  Also forbidden are animals with such skin infections as mange (garav) or yalefet (see 21:20).

22:23 Veshor vaseh sarua vekalut nedavah ta'aseh oto uleneder lo yeratzeh
An ox or lamb with one limb larger [or smaller] than the other or with uncleft hooves, you shall make [offer] it as a free-will offering [but] for a vow it will not be favorably accepted.
The Torah here is speaking of an animal that has an extra limb (saru'a).  Some say that this refers to an animal which has one limb larger than another.

Also mentioned here is an animal that is missing a limb (kalut).  Some say this denotes an animal which has an un-split hoof like a horse or donkey.  Although kosher animals normally have split hooves, sometimes a freak will have an un-split hoof. (Korban Aharon; Sifetei Chachamim)

If an animal has any of these blemishes it is forbidden to consecrate it as a sacrifice.  It is also forbidden to slaughter it or sprinkle its blood on the Altar.  However, it is permissible to consecrate it as a gift for the sanctuary's upkeep (bedek ha-bayit).  This means that the value of the animal is consecrated to the sanctuary. The animal is then sold and an unblemished animals can be bought and sacrificed on the Altar.

The Torah therefore says, "It can be offered as a gift.  But it shall not be acceptable as a pledge."  This means that its value may be consecrated but it may not be offered as a sacrifice. (Sifra; Rashi)

22:24 Uma'uch vechatut venatuk vecharut lo takrivu l'HASHEM uve'artzechem lo ta'asu
[An animal that has its testicles] crushed, mangled, torn or cut off you shall not bring to HASHEM and in your land you shall not inflict these injuries.
The Torah speaks of two prohibitions here.  First, the Torah says that an animal whose testicles have been damaged may not be offered as a sacrifice.  This refers to an animal whose testicles have been crushed, whether by hand or with an instrument.  It also includes an animal whose testicles have been pulled loose while still in their sac or have been severed.

The Torah also teaches that it is forbidden to castrate any creature.  It is forbidden to castrate a human being, a mammal, or a bird.  The Torah therefore says, "This is something that you must never do no matter where you live."  This teaches that one may not castrate or sterilize any animal.

22:25 Umiyad ben-nechar lo takrivu et-lechem Elokeichem mikol-eleh ki moshchatam bahem mum bam lo yeratzu lachem
And from a stranger's [gentile's] hand you shall not bring [offer] the bread of your G-d from any of these for they have inflicted wounds in them; they will not be favorably accepted for you."
In general, if a gentile wishes to bring a sacrifice to the Altar it is accepted.  However, if the gentile brings an animal with any of the above mentioned blemishes on it, it may not be sacrificed.  If a gentile wishes to preset an offering to G-d or any Altar (bamah) that he builds, he may offer any animal even if it has blemish.  The only time he may not offer in animal as if it is missing a limb.

However, if a gentile wants to bring a sacrifice to the Holy Temple, the animal must be unblemished.  It must fulfill the same criteria of the physical perfection as an animal offered by an Yisraeli.

22:26 Vayedaber HASHEM el-Moshe lemor
HASHEM spoke to Moshe, saying,
27 Shor o-chesev o-ez ki yivaled vehayah shiv'at yamim tachat imo umiyom hashmini vahal'ah yeratzeh lekorban isheh l'HASHEM
"An ox, lamb or goat, when it is born, shall be with its mother for seven days.  From the eighth day and thereafter it may be favorably accepted as a sacrifice as a fire-offering to HASHEM.
This portion is read in the synagogue on the first day of Sukkot.  This is because it mentions the commandments of the sukkah and lulav (23:40, 42).

Another reason is that we learn an important lesson from this.  The Torah says, "If an ox, sheep, or goat is born..." this is somewhat difficult to understand.  When an ox is born, it is not called an ox (shor), but a calf (egel).  It is only called an ox (shor), when it grows up.  Why does the Torah say, "An ox, sheep, or goat, when they are born"? The Torah should have said, "When a calf... is born."

However, the Torah teaches us that all creatures essentially reach perfection when they are born.  Once they are born they cannot hope to reach any higher status.  An animal remains the same from the day it is born until it dies.

This is not true of a human being.  When he is born he is nothing.  Every day he can reach a higher status and greatness.  He can also grow spiritually through the observance of commandments and good deeds.

We therefore read this portion on the first day of Sukkot, which is the first day that we must think about our sins.  When Yom Kippur is over, all our sins are atoned for.  Now our hearts must be aroused to do good deeds and keep the commandments and gain further spiritual status.  We should not be like animals who are no different when they die than when they are born. (Chemdat Yamim, p. 265)

23:7 Bayom harishon mikra-kodesh yihyeh lachem kol-melechet avodah lo ta'asu
On the first day [there] shall be a day of holy assembly for you; you shall not do any work of labor.
8 Vehikravtem isheh l'HASHEM shiv'at yamim bayom hashvi'i mikra-kodesh kol-melechet avodah lo ta'asu
You shall bring a fire-offering to HASHEM [on each of] seven days.  On the seventh day it is [a day] of holy assembly; you shall not do any work of labor."
On the Shabbat the Torah forbids all types of work.  On festivals, however, the Torah only forbids "mundane work" or "servile work," (melechet avodah).

The Torah is saying that even if one will suffer great monetary loss he still may not work on the festivals.

However, earlier the Torah said, "You may not do any work on these days except what is to be eaten by every individual; that alone you may do" (Shemot 12:16).  The Torah speaks of "mundane work" excluding work that is necessary to prepare food for the festival.  This is not considered "mundane work." (Rashi)


Work on Festivals

All work forbidden on the Shabbat is also forbidden on Yom Tov with the exception of work necessary to prepare food.

However, these are the types of work that our sages forbade even through they are necessary to prepare food.  These include harvesting, grinding, harvesting grapes, pressing grapes, and trapping.

These categories are as follows:
  1. Harvesting (ketzirah).  This includes the cutting of any grain or other crops.
  2. Grinding (techinah).  This includes all grinding and milling of grain.
  3. Plucking (betzirah).  This includes plucking grapes or any grapes.
  4. Squeezing (sechitah).  This includes pressing bunches of grapes.
  5. Trapping (tzedah).  This includes capturing any fish or birds.
All these types of work are forbidden on Yom Tov. (Orach Chayim 495)

Any work that a Jew is forbidden to do, he may not request of a Karaite (who does not maintain that such categories of work are forbidden).  If one asks a Karaite (or any other non-religious Jew) to do such work, he is in violation of the commandment  "Do not place a stumbling block before the blind" (19:14). (Kenesset  HaGedolah, notes on Tur, ibid.)


The Permissible Area

On the Shabbat or a festival it is forbidden to walk more than two thousand cubits (about 3,000 - 4,000 feet) outside of a city or other populated area.  The area in which it is permitted to walk is known as the "permitted area," (techum).


Slaughtering

As mentioned earlier, anything which is not necessary for holiday food may not be done. Therefore, if one slaughters an animal to eat it on Yom Tov he should not examine it to see if it is kosher or teferah until he has skinned it  If he examines it before skinning it and finds it is terefah, he is forbidden to skin it since it is no longer fit for food. (Orach Chayim 497)

If a person wishes to slaughter on Yom Tov he may do so.  However, he must sharpen the knife before Yom Tov and examine it to make sure it has no nick.  On Yom Tov he is forbidden to examine the knife. (Orach Chayim 498 in Hagah)

Therefore it is good for every slaughterer (shochet) to prepare two or three knives before Yom Tov, to sharpen them and examine them. If one gets ruined he can then use others.  This is the custom today. (Sheyarei Kenesset HaGedolah ibid.)

It is forbidden to slaughter any animal on Yom Tov unless one must eat it that day.  Thus, it is forbidden to slaughter an animal on the first day of Yom Tov for that night or for the second day of Yom Tov.  it is obviously forbidden to slaughter on Yom Tov for weekday needs.


Fire

It is permissible to kindle one fire from another on Yom Kippur.  However, it is forbidden to make a new fire on Yom Tov. (Orach Chayim 502)   One may not make a new fire with flint, burning glass or anything else.

It is even forbidden to make a new fire if one needs it to prepare food for the festival, because it was possible to make the fire the day before Yom Tov in such a manner that it would not be extinguished.  Fire can be covered with a vessel or surrounded by earth so it will burn until the next day.


Pirkei Avot

It is an ancient custom to study Pirkei Avot, and the book of Mishlei (Proverbs) during the days of the Omer.  These books contain many teachings that move a person's heart repentance during these days.  One purifies himself of sin just as the Benei Yisrael were purified of idolatry during the fifty days between the Exodus from Egypt and the receiving of the Torah on Shavu'ot.

These days are also holy days, just like Elul, the month before the High Holy Days. It is a period of judgment, during which the students of famed Rabbi Akiva died.  A person must tremble with awe during these days, just as he does on Rosh HaShanah.  It is a time when a person should be contrite.  When he studies an ethical work such as Pirkei Avot during this period it will have a greater effect on him. 

There is also another reason why we study Pirkei Avot during the days of the omer.  These are the days of spring, when a person is tempted to neglect his studies and go strolling in the gardens and fields.  With the weather only too conducive to such pastimes, and with the trees beginning to blossom, it is very easy for a person to yield to this temptation.

It is for this reason we study Pirkei Avot.  Such study prevents a person from succumbing to his desires and motivates him to keep the commandments and do good deeds so that he will have a place in Olam HaBah (the World to Come).   He will not lose this eternal good by pursuing the vices of this world, which are only passing fancies of which nothing is left in the end.

We also study Pirkei Avot during these weeks in spring because it is a time when people begin to look after the health of their bodies.  Just as a person must be concerned with the health of his body, so must he be concerned with the health of his soul.  The medicine for the soul consists of good deeds and the observance of the commandments; this keeps it healthy for its function in Olam HaBah.  G-d created many remedies in the world and all of them are alluded to in the Torah.  G-d thus told Moshe, "If you obey the Voice of HaShem your G-d, behave uprightly in His Eyes, head His commandments and keep all His decrees, then all the diseases that I have placed in Egypt I will not place among you, for I am G-d your Healer" (Shemot 15:26).

G-d taught Moshe the curative powers of every herb and root and how each one can be used to heal specific diseases.  But then G-d said, "Although I have taught you the curative powers of all the herbs, do not consider this an important teaching.  The main thing is the Torah and everything outlined in it. If you obey the Torah and keep G-d's commandments, you will have no need for remedies and cures.  Since I, Myself, will then be your Physician, you will not suffer any of the diseases you had in Egypt.


Counting the Omer

One the second night of the Pesach, 16 Nissan, after the evening service, we begin to count the Omer. (Orach Chayim 489)

One must count the Omer after stars become visible (tzet ha-kochavim).  If one makes a mistake on a cloudy day and counts too early, he must repeat the count when it is actually dark.

If one forgets and does not count at the beginning of the night, he may count the Omer anytime during that night.

If one forgets and did not count that night at all, he may count during the day without reciting a blessing.  On ensuing nights, he may then count with a blessing since he counted that day.

However, if one forgets both by night and by day, he may no longer count with a blessing.  On subsequent nights, therefore, he must count without a blessing. (Orach Chayim 489:6)

It is a commandment for each individual to count.  

When one counts the Omer he must stand.  A mnemonic for this is the verse, "The counsel of G-d is what shall stand (Tehillim 33:11).  The Hebrew word for "counsel of" is atzat.  However, ATzaT can be seen as an abbreviation for Amer, Tzitzit, Tekiot.  This refers to the counting of the Omer, putting on one's tallit with tzitzit and sounding the shofar, indicating that these three precepts must be done while standing.

However, if one has already counted the Omer while sitting, he has fulfilled his obligation.

Before counting the Omer, one recites the blessing:
Blessed are You, O HaShem our G-d, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us regarding counting the Omer.
One must count both days and weeks.  

The Sefardic custom is to say la-omer.  However, the Ashkenazic custom is to say ba-omer.

After counting each night, one says:
The Compassionate One!  May He return for us the service of the Temple to its place, speedily in our days, Amein, Selah!
 After that one then recites the sixty-seventh Psalm:
For the Conductor, upon Neginot, a psalm, a song.  May G-d favor us and bless us, may He illuminate His countenance with us, Selah.  To make known Your way on earth, among all the nations Your salvation.  The peoples will acknowledge You, O G-d, the peoples will acknowledge You, all of them.  Nations will be glad and sing for joy, because You will judge the peoples fairly and gide the nations on earth, Selah.  Then peoples will acknowledge You, O G-d, the peoples will acknowledge You, all of them.  The earth has yielded its produce, may G-d, our own G-d, bless us.  May G-d bless us and may all the ends of the earth fear Him.
This Psalm is usually placed in the form of a Menorah and recited.

The sacred texts say that whoever recites this pslam in the form of a Menorah on all the days of the Omer, as well as after the priestly blessing, which the Kohen says in the morning, will not experience any harm during that year.  He will also have great success in all his deeds.

King David wrote this psalm on his shield and used it when he went out to war.  With it he would defeat his foes.

If a person does not understand Hebrew, he may count the omer in any language he understands.  If he does not understand Hebrew at all, he should not count the Omer in Hebrew.  If he does count it in Hebrwe, he has not fulfilled his obligation because he does not understand what he is saying. (Magen Avraham; Orach Chayim; Ibid.)

23:17 Mimoshvoteichem tavi'u lechem tnufah shtayim shnei esronim solet tihyeinah chametz te'afeinah bikurim l'HASHEM
From the land of\ your dwelling places you shall bring two bread wave-offerings, of two tenths of flour they shall be.  You shall bake them leavened, as first fruit-offering to HASHEM.
 The Torah say that these loaves should be made of fine meal, "solet" in Hebrew.  This indicates that they must be sifted with twelve sieves.

This meal is made into loaves of bread, each loaf consisting of one-tenth efah of wheat (two quarts), which is the amount of dough that requires a separation of challah (Disccused in Parashat BeShalach).  These are the "two loaves" which are offered on Shavuot.

23:18 Vehikravtem al-halechem shiv'at kvasim tmimim bnei shanah ufar ben-bakar echad ve'eilim shnayim yihyu olah l'HASHEM uminchatam veniskeihem isheh re'ach-nichoach l'HASHEM
You shall bring, along with the bread, seven unblemished yearling lambs, one young bullock and two rams; they shall be a burnt-offering to HASHEM with their meal-offerings and wine-offerings, a fire-offering of pleasing fragrance to HASHEM.
19 Va'asitem se'ir-izim echad lechatat ushnei chvasim benei shanah lezevach shlamim
You shall prepare one he-goat as a sin-offering and two yearling lambs as peace-offerings.
20 Vehenif hakohen otam al lechem habikurim tnufah lifnei HASHEM al-shnei kevasim kodesh yihyu l'HASHEM lakohen
The Kohen shall wave them along with the bread of the first fruit-offering as a wave-offering before HASHEM with the two lambs; they shall be holy for HASHEM, for the Kohen.
The sheep are waved while they are still alive.  Then they are slaughtered and skinned, and the Kohen takes the chest of each sheep and places it on the two breads.  He places two hands under it and waves it again.  In previous sections, this waving "tenufah" performed is discussed.

The Kohen would then burn the prescribed parts of the sheep.  The rest of the meat was eaten by the Kohanim.

24:5 Velakachta solet ve'afita otah shteim esreh chalot shnei esronim yihyeh hachalah ha'echat
You shall take fine flour and bake twelve loaves, each individual loaf shall be two tenths [of an efah].
6 Vesamta otam shtayim ma'arachot shesh hama'arachet al hashulchan hatahor lifnei HASHEM
You shall place them in two sacks, six in each stack on the pure Table, before Hashem.
7 Venatata al-hama'arechet levonah zakah vehayetah lalechem le'azkarah isheh l'HASHEM
You shall put pure frankincense on [each] stack and it shall be as a memorial portion for the bread, as a fire-offering to HASHEM.
8 Beyom haShabbat beyom haShabbat ya'archenu lifnei HASHEM tamid me'et benei-Yisra'el berit olam
On each and every Shabbat he shall arrange them before HASHEM, continually, from the Children of Yisrael as an eternal covenant.
9 Vehayetah le-Aharon ulevanav va'achaluhu bemakom kadosh ki kodesh kodashim hu lo me'ishei HASHEM chok-olam
It shall belong to Aharon and to his sons and they shall eat it in a sacred place, for it is most holy for him from among the fire-offerings of HASHEM, as an everlasting statute.
The Torah here is speaking about the showbread, lechem ha-panim in Hebrew.

The Showbread was made in the following manner:

The Kohen would take 24 seah (about 50 gallons) of wheat fit for minchah offerings.  Each seah was 6 okiot (around 2 quarts).  They would beat this wheat and rub it to remove the husks and then they would grind it and sieve it with eleven sieves.  This would produce 24 tenths of an efah of fine meal.  This is the amount of dough from which the challah offering must be separated.  It is around 520 drams.

Out of these 24 tenths of an efah of meal they would make 12 loaves, each one containing two-tenths of an efah.

Each loaf was 10 handbreadths (30-40 inches) long and 5 handbreadths (15-20 inches) wide.  It was 7 fingers (5 1/4 inches) high.

Each loaf was made like an open box, with two portions covering it, as on windows.  After they kneaded the dough, they would make the bread like a box, half covered on one side and half covered the other side.  They would take the two parts and join them together on top.  The challah would look as if it had a face on all sides.  Therefore, it was called lechem haPanim, which literally means bread of the face.  This is because it appeared to have two faces, one to the right and one to the left.

In order to make this bread, they needed two vessels, one made out of iron and one made out of gold.  These were molds having the same shape as the bread.  They would place the bread in the iron forms while it was still dough.  Then each of the twelve loaves would be placed in the oven in its own vessel.  When the loaves were removed from the oven they would place each one in a mold made out of pure gold, also having the shape of the bread.  The Torah refers to these vessels as ke'arot.  This indicates that they would support (kaar) the bread.  The loaves would be left in these molds until the Shabbat.  This was because the loaves were left on the table from Shabbat to Shabbat, as it is written "On the Shabbat day they shall be arranged before G-d." (24:8).

G-d commanded that these twelve loaves be arranged into stacks, with the six loaves in one stack to the north of the table, and other six to the south.  Upon each of these stacks, frankincense (levonah) was placed to be scooped up.

Each Shabbat the bread was removed and given to the Kohanim.  They would take the frankincense and burn it in the Temple.  This pleasing fragrance is a sign that G-d loves the Benei Yisrael when they behave properly and do His Will.  This presents a "pleasing fragrance" to G-d.

On the table there were two dishes, each one holding a handful of frankincense.

There were hollow, golden half tubes with were placed  between the loaves so that they would not become spoiled, since one loaf was placed on another.

There were 28 golden half tubes, 14 for one stack and 14 for the other stack.

A miracle occurred that when the breads were removed they were just as warm as when they were put in place.

It took eight Kohanim to remove the showbread and to arrange the new.  Four Kohanim would walk ahead and stand prepared by the table on the southern side facing the north.  Then another four Kohanim would come, two of them holding the 12 breads, each one carrying six.  The other Kohanim would carry the four trays  holding frankincense and each one would have two spoons.  These Kohanim would stand to the north of the table facing south.

While all eight Kohanim were standing by the table, they would all try to stretch out their hands on the table at once.  The first four Kohanim would stretch out their hands to remove the bread of the previous week, and before they lifted their hands the other four would put down the new bread.  Thus, before the old bread was removed, new bread was there.

This was because G-d commanded in the Torah, "You shall place on the table, bread before Me at all times" (24:8).  Since the Torah says at all times (tamid), it teaches that bread must be constantly on the table.

G-d created the world ex nihilo.  After G-d created the world He no longer wishes to do any miracles.  Since creation, the world exists "something from something."  Therefore, G-d's blessing cannot rest on something empty.

G-d gave us this commandment so that the Divine influx would rest on the showbread.

The showbread was eaten by the Kohanim.  Each one would get a piece as big as a bean, but with the smal amount that they ate they were as satisfied as if they had eaten a complete meal.  This was because the showbread was the source of the blessing and influx that descended from on high. (Recanti; Ramban; Bachya; Toledot Yitzchak, Terumah)

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MeAm Lo'ez; Bachya; Ramban; Rashi

Parashat Acharei Mot - Kedoshim

Parashat Acharei Mot - Kedoshim
VaYikra 16:1-20:27


Parashat Summary

The duties Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur are delineated
The ceremony of the scapegoat is outlined
Moshe instructs Aharon about the Yom Kippur laws for fasting and atonement
Warnings against the offering of sacrifices outside the Sanctuary and the consumption of blood
Certain forms of sexual relations are prohibited

HaShem instructs the Benei Yisrael on how to be a holy people
Various sex offenses are discussed and punishments for them are presented

16:1 Vayedaber HASHEM el-Moshe acharei mot shney benei Aharon bekorvatam lifnei-HASHEM vayamutu
And HASHEM spoke to Moshe after the death of the two sons of Aharon, who brought an [unauthorized] offering before HASHEM and they died.
2 Vayomer HASHEM el-Moshe daber el-Aharon achicha ve'al-yavo vechol-et el-hakodesh mibeit laparochet el-penei hakaporet asher al-ha'aron velo yamut ki be'anan era'eh al-hakaporet
HASHEM said to Moshe, "Speak to your brother Aharon, and let him not enter the [inner] sanctuary that is beyond the partition concealing the ark, so that he not die, since I appear over the ark-cover in a cloud.
This portion sets forth the entire service performed by the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur in the Holy Temple.  

Because, today we no longer have the Holy Temple or the sacrifices we do not have any of the means of atonement that existed in the Temple to atone for our sins.  Therefore, our sages decreed that we should recite the avodah on Yom Kippur.

The cantor is in the place of the Kohen Gadol and the synagogue is in the place of the Temple.  When the cantor recites the avodah it takes the place of the Divine service that the Kohen Gadol would perform in the Temple.  Just as the Benei Yisrael felt a great awe and reverence at that time when they saw the Divine service done by the Kohen Gadol with great concentration, so today we must listen carefully to understand every word that the cantor says, and ask G-d to count our words like the sacrificial service, so as to atone for all our sins.

16:3 Bezot yavo Aharon el-hakodesh befar ben-bakar lechatat ve'ayil le'olah
With this shall Aharon come into the Holy [Sanctuary]; with a young bullock, for a sin-offering and a ram, for a burnt-offering.
Now HaShem told Moshe when Aharon would have the authority to enter the Holy of Holies.  He could only enter on Yom Kippur after performing a particular service, including offering a young bullock as a chatat (sin offering) and a ram as olah (burnt offering).

Then, through the merit of these sacrifices that he offered on Yom Kippur, he had the authority to enter the Holy of Holies. (VaYikra Rabbah; Yeffeh Toar)  The Torah therefore says, "with this" (be-zot).  The Torah could simply have said, "Because I will be seen on the ark cover in smoke and with a young bullock..."  Why does it have to say, "With this shall Aharon come"?  This teaches that the Holy of Holies is such an awesome place that even an angel has no permission to go there.  Only through the merit of the sacrifices may the Kohen Gadol enter.

The word "zot" meaning "this" also refers to the Torah, as it is written, "And this (zot) is the Torah..." (Devarim 4:44).
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The word "zot" also alludes to circumcision, as it is written, "This (zot) is my covenant [every male among you must be circumcised]" (Bereishit 17:10).

It also alludes to the commandment of the Shabbat, as it is written, "Happy is the man who does this (zot), [keeping the Shabbat and not violating it]" (Yeshayahu 56:2)

It also alludes to Yerushalayim, as it is written, "This (zot) is Yerushalayim" (Yechezkel 5:5).

It alludes to the Twelve Tribes, as it is written, "This (zot) is what their father spoke to them" (Bereishit 49:28)

It also alludes to Yehudah, as it is written, "And this (zot) shall be for Yehudah" (Devarim 33:7)

It also alludes to Yisrael, as it is written, "This (zot) is your stature" (Shir HaShirim 7:8).

It also alludes to the priestly terumah offering, as it is written, "And this (zot) is the terumah" (Shemot 25:3), as well as the tithes, as it is written, "[Bring the whole tithe to the storehouse...] test Me with this (zot)" (Malachi 3:10).

The word zot teaches that through the merit of all the above mentioned things, the Kohen Gadol was allowed to enter a place as sacred as the Holy of Holies. (Mizrachi)

The Hebrew world for "with this" is be-zot.  This alludes to the fact that the first Temple was destined to last for 410 years.  The numerical value of be-zot is 410.

Similarly, the word kadosh meaning holy, has a numerical value of 410, equal to be-zot.

Also, the word shema' has a numerical value of 410.

This teaches that if a person concentrates when he says the Shema' and the Kedushah prayers, it is counted as if he were inside the Holy Holies.  This is how great one's holiness is at the time. (Minchah Belulah; Rashi; Baal HaTurim; VaYikra Rabbah; Bachya)

16:4 Ketonet-bad kodesh yilbash umichnesei-vad yiheyu al-besaro uve'avnet bad yachgor uvemitznefet bad yitznof bigdei-kodesh hem verachatz bamayim et-besaro ulevesham
He shall don a sanctified, linen tunic and linen pants shall be on his body.  He shall gird himself with a linen sash and place a linen turban on his head.  These are sacred garments; he shall bathe his body in water and clothe himself in them.
The Torah now describes the Yom Kippur service and what vestments had to be worn during this service.

The Kohen Gadol could not perform the special service on this day with the "golden vestments" (bigdei  ha-zahav) that he wore when he performed the service all year.  Instead, he had to wear the four "white vestments" (bigdei laven) made of linen.  He could not wear anything else.

The four vestments were:
  1. tunic
  2. pants
  3. belt
  4. turban
These vestments had to be bought with money consecrated for the Temple.  The Torah therefore says, "They are holy vestments."

Before the Kohen Gadol put on these vestments, he would immerse in a mikvah.  Only then could he don the four white vestments.

The Kohen Gadol would change his vestments five times that day.  He wore one set of vestments when he did the "outer service" in the Temple and a different set when he did the "inner service" in the Holy of Holies.

For the "outer service" he would wear his golden vestments, while for the "inner service" he would wear the white vestments.  Each time he changed, he had to immerse in a mikvah.  He also had to wash his hands and feet two times from the kiyor (washstand).

G-d commanded that the inner service be performed with the white vestments rather than the golden ones, because of the Golden Calf.  It would not have been suitable that the Kohen Gadol enter the Holy of Holies to atone for the Benei Yisrael while wearing vestments containing gold, since this would recall the sin of the Golden Calf.  Ha-satan would have the opportunity to denounce Yisrael and say, "They sinned with a Golden Calf and now he wants to atone for them with vestments containing gold." (VaYikra Rabbah; Yerushalmi; Rashi; Targum Yonatan. See Yeffeh Toar, ad. loc.)

There is another reason that the Torah requires that white vestments be worn.  The law is that when priestly vestments are worn for one day they must be put aside and cannot be used a second time.

Therefore, if these vestments were made out of gold, the Benei Yisrael would have sustained a great loss, because they would have had to make new golden vestments for the next year.  The Torah is concerned with Jewish money - therefore G-d commanded that the Kohen Gadol wear linen garments.

Another reason for the white garments is that all the service on Yom Kippur must be done with a contrite heart and great humility.  G-d commanded that the golden vestments not be worn, because a person wearing gold tends to be proud and haughty. (Ibid.)

16:5 Ume'et adat benei Yisra'el yikach shnei se'irei izim lechatat ve'ayil echad le'olah
He shall take, from the congregation of the Children of Yisrael two he-goats for sin-offerings and one ram for a burnt-offering.
6 Vehikriv Aharon et-par hachatat asher-lo vechiper ba'ado uve'ad beyto
Aharon shall bring the sin-offering bullock which is his and atone on his own behalf and on behalf of his household.
7 Velakach et-shenei hase'irim vehe'emid otam lifnei HASHEM petach Ohel Mo'ed
He shall take the two he-goats and stand them before HASHEM, at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.
The two goats had to be taken from the community. (Sifra)

They had to be exactly the same in appearance, in size and in value.

They also had to be purchased at the same time.

These two goats would then be placed at the Mishkan's entrance where the lots would be drawn. (Mizrachi)

16:8 Venatan Aharon al-shnei hase'irim goralot goral echad l'HASHEM vegoral echad la-Azazel
Aharon shall put lots on the two he-goats; one lot [marked] 'for HASHEM' and one lot [marked] 'for Azazel.'
The lottery was made in the following manner:

The Kohen Gadol would take two identical pieces of gold.  On one of them, G-d's Name, YKVK, would be written. On the other, the name Azazel would be written.

These two told tablets would be placed in a wooden box, which was large enough to place both hands inside.

The two goats would stand, one to the right of the Kohen Gadol and one to the left.  He would place his hands into the box and take the two gold tablets, each one in a different hand.  He would place the tablet that he drew in his right hand on the head of the goat to the right and the lottery tablet in his left hand on the head of the goat to his left.  When he placed the lottery tablet on the head of the goat which was designated L'YKVK, he would announce, "To YKVK a sin offering."


Before he would make this lottery, he would take the bullock that he bought from his own mney and recite the confession over it for himself and his family.

After the lottery, he would return to his bullock and recite a second confession.  This would be for himself, his family and for the rest of the Kohanim.  He would then slaughter this bullock.



16:9 Vehikriv Aharon et-hasa'ir asher alah alav hagoral l'HASHEM ve'asahu chatat
Aharon shall bring the goat upon which the lot [marked] 'for HASHEM' came up and do [offer] it as a sin-offering.
10 Vehasa'ir asher alah alav hagoral la-Azazel ya'omad-chai lifnei HASHEM lechaper alav leshalach oto la-Azazel hamidbarah
The goat upon which came up the lot [marked] 'for Azazel' shall be placed, alive, before HASHEM, to achieve atonement with it to send it to Azazel, in the desert.
11 Vehikriv Aharon et-par hachatat asher-lo vechiper ba'ado uve'ad beito veshachat et-par hachatat asher-lo
Aharon shall bring the sin-offering bullock which is his and atone on his behalf and on behalf of his household, and he shall slaughter his sin-offering bullock.
12 Velakach melo-hamachtah gachalei-esh me'al hamizbe'ach milifnei HASHEM umelo chofnav ktoret samim dakah vehevi mibeit laparochet
He shall take a full hand shovel of fiery coals from atop the altar, which is before HASHEM and full handfuls of finely-ground incense and he shall bring [them] inside of the curtain.
13 Venatan et-haketoret al-ha'esh lifnei HASHEM vechisah anan haktoret et-hakaporet asher al-ha'edut velo yamut
He shall put the incense on the fire before HASHEM and the cloud of incense will cover the Ark-cover that is on the [tablets of] Testimony, that he not die.
The Kohen Gadol would take a fire pan full of fire from the outer Altar, which was "before G-d."  This indicated that he would have to take it from the west side of the Altar.  He would also take a double handful of incense that was ground to a particularly fine powder.  These he would bring beyond the veil into the Holy of Holies.  There in the Holy of Holies he would place the incense on the burning coals in the fire pan so that the smoke of the incense would cover the cover of the Aron which contained the Tablets.  If he did that correctly, he would not die. (Rashi)

However, if any of the ingredients of the incense were omitted, or if the herb known as ma'aleh ashan was omitted, the Kohen Gadol would be worthy of death. (Rashi)

16:14 Velakach midam hapar vehizah ve'etzba'o al-penei hakaporet kedmah velifnei hakaporet yazeh sheva-pe'amim min-hadam be'etzba'o
He shall take some of the bullock's blood and he shall sprinkle with his finger, above the surface of the Ark-cover on its eastern part; and before the Ark-cover, he shall sprinkle, some blood, with his finger, seven times.
The Kohen Gadol would take some of the bull's blood and with his right forefinger he would sprinkle it once above the east side of the Kaporet (Aron cover).  He would then sprinkle it seven times directly toward the Kaporet.

In all, then, he would sprinkle it eight times. This is the mean of what we say in the Yom Kippur Mussaf.  "Once above and seven below..."

16:15 Veshachat et-se'ir hachatat asher la'am vehevi et-damo el-mibeit laparochet ve'asah et-damo ka'asher asah ledam hapar vehizah oto al-hakaporet velifnei hakaporet
He shall slaughter the he-goat sin-offering that belongs to the people, and he shall bring its blood inside of the Curtain.  He shall do [with] its blood just as he did with the bullock's blood and he shall sprinkle it on the Ark-cover and before the Ark-cover.
16 Vechiper al-hakodesh mitum'ot benei Yisra'el umipish'eihem lechol-chatotam vechen ya'aseh le'Ohel Mo'ed hashochen itam betoch tum'otam
He will atone for the Sanctuary, from the impurities of the Children of Yisrael and from their rebellious sins for all their transgressions   He shall do likewise for the Tent of Meeting, that dwells with them in the midst of their impurity.
The Torah says that the Kohen shall "atone for the sanctuary, for the defilement of the Benei Yisrael, for their purposeful deeds and for their inadvertent deeds."  The Torah is speaking about someone who entered the Mishkan or Temple grounds when ritually unclean.  This part of the service atones for whether it was done purposely or inadvertently.

The Torah says that the Kohen must do the same thing in the Ohel Mo'ed (Tent of Meeting).  Just as he sprinkled blood in the Holy of Holies inside the curtain, so he must sprinkle the blood outside the curtain in the outer sanctuary.

The sin of entering the sanctuary while unclean is a very serious sin.  The Torah specifically says that the Divine Presence rests there.  Even when an unclean person enters the sanctuary the Divine Presence does not leave.

This teaches us how great G-d's love is for Yisrael.  Even when they are unclean He does not take away His Divine Presence from among them. (Sifra; Korban Aharon)
A heretic (Min) once challenged Rabbi Chanina, "You have every right to praise yourself that the Divine Presence does not leave you.  However, this was only true as long as the Temple stood and you were pure.  Today, you are unclean and this is no longer the case."
Rabbi Chanina replied, "G-d says that He 'dwells among them in their uncleanliness.'  Although we are unclean, the Divine Presence has never left us." (Yoma, Chapter 5)

16:17 Vechol-adam lo-yihyeh be'Ohel Mo'ed bevo'o lechaper bakodesh ad-tzeto vechiper ba'ado uve'ad beito uve'ad kol-kehal Yisra'el
No man shall be present in the Tent of Meeting when he comes in to atone for the Holy [Sanctuary] until he leaves.  He shall atone on his behalf and on behalf of his household and on behalf of the entire assembly of Yisrael.
The Torah now tells us that it is forbidden for any person to be in the Mishkan when the Kohen Gadol enters the Holy of Holies to perform the avodah service.  The Kohen Gadol must be alone in the Mishkan.

Even angels cannot appear in the Mishkan at that time. (Yerushalmi, Yoma, Chapter 5; Bachya; Minchah Belulah)  The Torah could have simply said, "A man shall not be in the Tent of Meeting..." Instead, it says, "Every man (adam)," teaching that even angels are not allowed to be there.  the Torah speaks of angels as adam, where it says, "The form of the faces was the face of a man (adam)" (Yechezkel 1:5).  This implies that even the angels could not be there.

The Talmud tells the following store about Shimon HaTzaddik who served as Kohen Gadol for forty years.
The year that he died he told the people, "This year I shall die."

"How do you know?" asked the people

He replied, "Every Yom Kippur, I see an old man dressed in white and wrapped in a white tallit. He comes in with me and goes out with me.  This year, however, I saw a man wearing black clothing and wrapped with a black tallit.  He came in with me, but did not leave with me."

The Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud) comments on this story and says that the "old man" who appeared in the Holy of Holies could not have been a human being nor an angel.  The Torah says, "No man shall be in the Ohel Mo'ed," and as we have explained, this even includes angels.  Instead, it was the Divine Presence (Shechinah), which appeared, looking like an old man.  This was in the merit of Shimon HaTzaddik who was a very great person.

It happened as Shimon HaTzaddik had predicted.  That year, after the Sukkot festival was over, Shimon HaTzaddik became ill.  He was ill for seven days and then he died.


16:18 Veyatza el-hamizbe'ach asher lifnei-HASHEM vechiper alav velakach midam hapar umidam hasa'ir venatan al-karnot hamizbe'ach savivHe shall go out ot the Altar that is before HASHEM and atone on it.  He shall take some of the bullock's blood and some of the he-goat's blood and put it atop the corners of the Altar, all around.
After the Kohen Gadol sprinkles the blood inside the Holy of Holies, he then goes out to the outer sanctuary.  There he must mix the blood of the bull together with the blood of the goat, and he must sprinkle this mixed blood on the four corners of the Golden Incense Altar that is "before G-d."  He would begin at the northeast corner and end with the southeast corner. (Yad, commentary on the Mishnah, Menachot, Chapter 13)

16:19 Vehizah alav min-hadam be'etzba'o sheva pe'amim vetiharo vekidsho mitum'ot benei Yisra'el
He shall sprinkle on it from the blood that is on his finger seven times and purify it and sanctify it from the impurities of the Children Yisrael
By sprinkling blood on the center of the Altar, the Kohen Gadol purifies it from any previous sins and sanctifies it for the future.

16:20 Vechilah mikaper et-hakodesh ve'et-Ohel Mo'ed ve'et-hamizbe'ach vehikriv et-hasa'ir hechaiWhen he finishes atoning for the Holy [Sanctuary] and [for] the Tent of Meeting and [for] the Altar he shall bring the live he-goats.
After the Kohen Gadol completes the service in the Holy of Holies and the outer sanctuary and places the blood on the incense Altar, he is ready to present the goat which has been chose by lot for Azazel.

16:21 Vesamach Aharon et-shtei yadav al-rosh hasa'ir hachai vehitvadah alav et-kol-avonot benei Yisra'el ve'et-kol-pish'eihem lechol-chatotam venatan otam al-rosh hasa'ir veshilach beyad-ish iti hamidbarah
Aharon shall lay his two hands on the head of the live he-goat and confess on it all the iniquities of the Children of Yisrael and all their rebellious transgressions for all their sins, and put them on the head of the goat and send it away with the man [so] designated, to the desert.
22 Venasa hasa'ir alav et-kol-avonotam el-eretz gezerah veshilach et-hasa'ir bamidbar
The goat shall carry upon itself all of their iniquities to a desolate land, and [the man shall] send the goat into the desert.



Concept of Azazel - Where this Goat was sent in the Desert

The etymology of the word Azazel is as follows:

It is derived from the word עָז (az) or עָזוּז (azuz), which denotes strong.  The word Azazel refers to a powerful, strong rock or cliff.  The word אֵל (el) means strong, as it is written, "He took the mighty ones (el-ei) of the land" (Yechezkel 17:13). This means that he took the strongest, mightiest ones in the land. (Rashi; Yoma, Chapter 6)

Some say that the word Azazel refers to the cliff over which the goat was pushed.  The word Azazel could then be broken up into עָז עָזֵל (az azel), which means "the goat who goes."

The goat was sent away through a specially designated person.  The person had to be chosen for this purpose on the day before Yom Kippur. (Rashi).  When the Torah speaks of a specially designated man, it calls him an iti man.  Some say that the world iti denotes time.  This is a person for whom all times are the same, who is not concerned with the change of seasons.  He is not concerned with rain, snow, or anything else that might prevent him from fulfilling his mission.  Thus, the expression ish itti can be translated as "a timeless man." (Ralbag)

The world iti also teaches that the goat can be sent at any time.  Even if Yom Kippur comes out on the Shabbat and the goat is sick and cannot walk, the man can carry it on his shoulders to the desert.  This is not considered a violation of the Shabbat.

The word iti also teaches that if the person designated to bring it is unclean, he can still take it from the Kohen and bring it to the desert. (Sifra; Ralbag; Bachya)

The Kohen to whom the goat is given over brings it to the cliff that we have mentioned and leads it up to the top of the cliff.  The with his hands he pushes it down so that it tumbles down the cliff.  It would reach halfway down before it was broken into pieces.  The cliff over which the goat was thrown consisted of sharp, jagged rocks that would tear the goat into little pieces.

The Torah therefore says that the goat should be sent "to a gezerah land."  Although we translated this as a "desolate area" the word gezerah also has the connotation of cutting.  This indicates that the cliff would cut and tear the goat into small pieces (gezarim) because it had sharp, jutting rocks and was not smooth.  As the goat would fall from one jagged rock to another, it would be shredded to pieces. (Mizrachi)

Some say that the words "gezerah land" should be translated as "decree land." This teaches that, although the Torah says that the goat should be sent to the desert and thus atone for the sins of the Benei Yisrael, this is a Divine decree (gezerah) that we cannot understand with our intellect.  This is one of the commandments which cannot be understood with human intellect, very much like the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer - BaMidbar 19).  The reasons are known to G-d and we should not try to delve into them; rather, we must keep them because it is G-d's commandment.

The Torah therefore says, "the goat shall carry upon it all the sins to a gezerah land and send the goat to the desert."  G-d is saying that the commandment is a gezerah - a Divine decree - and one should not think about it but merely obey it as G-d's commandment.

Although we have said that we cannot fully understand the mystery of Azazel, we are permitted to give reasons that our minds can understand.  We can understand it to some degree, but we must realize that beyond this there are mysteries that the mind cannot penetrate. (Yoma, Chapter 6).

16:23 Uva Aharon el-Ohel Mo'ed ufashat et-bigdei habad asher lavash bevo'o el-hakodesh vehinicham sham
Aharon shall then go into the Tent of Meeting, and take off the white linen vestments that he wore when he entered the [inner] Sanctuary.  He shall leave [these vestments] there.
The Torah says that he should leave his vestments "there."  This means that after he finishes the service in the "white vestments," they are to be put aside.  They could not be used during the rest of the year nor on the following Yom Kippur.  The Torah therefore says, "He shall place them there," which indicates that htey must be put away and not used. (Yoma, Chapter 1; VaYikra Rabbah; Yeffeh Toar; Sifra; Ralbag; Bachya; Rashi)

16:24 Verachatz et-besaro vamayim bemakom kadosh velavash et-begadav veyatza ve'asah et-olato ve'et-olat ha'am vechiper ba'ado uve'ad ha'am
He shall wash his flesh in water in a sacred place and don his garments.  He shall go out and do [offer] his burnt-offering and the people's burnt-offering and atone on his behalf and on behalf of the people.
25 Ve'et chelev hachatat yaktir hamizbechah
The fat of the sin-offering, he shall burn on the altar.
After the Kohen Gadol took off his "white vestments," he would immerse in a mikvah in a sanctified area.  This immersion was carried out in the Sanctuary (Azarah).

After that he would put on his "golden vestments" and go out and offer his olah (burnt offering), which is the ram mentioned earlier.

16:26 Vehameshale'ach et-hasa'ir la-Azazel yechabes begadav verachatz et-besaro bamayim ve'acharei-chen yavo el-hamachaneh
He who sends the goat to Azazel shall wash his garments, and bathe his body in water, and afterwards he shall come into the encampment.
27 Ve'et par hachatat ve'et se'ir hachatat asher huva et-damam lechaper bakodesh yotzi el-michutz lamachaneh vesarfu va'esh et-orotam ve'et-besaram ve'et-pirsham
The sin-offering bullock and the sin-offering goat whose blood was brought to achieve atonement in the Holy [Sanctuary], he shall have removed beyond the encampment.  They shall burn in fire their skins, their flesh and their waste [that are in their intestines].
28 Vehashoref otam yechabes begadav verachatz et-besaro bamayim ve'acharei-chen yavo el-hamachaneh
He who burns them shall wash his garments and bathe his body in water and afterwards he shall come into the encampment.
29 Vehayetah lachem lechukat olam bachodesh hashvi'i be'asor lachodesh te'anu et-nafshoteichem vechol-melachah lo ta'asu ha'ezrach vehager hagar betochechem
It shall be for an everlasting statute for you; in the seventh month, on the tenth of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and not do any work, the native-born and the proselyte residing among you.
30 Ki-vayom hazeh yechaper aleichem letaher etchem mikol chatoteichem lifnei HASHEM titharu
For on this day He will make atonement for you, to purify you from all your sins, before HASHEM, you will be purified.
31 Shabbat Shabbaton hi lachem ve'initem et-nafshoteichem chukat olam
It is a Shabbat of Shabbatot to you and you must afflict yourselves; it is an everlasting statute.
32 Vechiper hakohen asher-yimshach oto va'asher yemale et-yado lechahen tachat aviv velavash et-bigdei habad bigdei hakodesh
The Kohen will atone - he who himself will be anointed nd who will be initiated - to serve in his fathers stead and dress in the linen garments, the sacred garments.
33 Vechiper et-mikdash hakodesh ve'et-Ohel Mo'ed ve'et-hamizbe'ach yechaper ve'al hakohanim ve'al-kol-am hakahal yechaper
He will atone for the Holy [Sanctuary]; and for the Tent of Meeting and for the Altar, he will atone; for the Kohanim and for the entire people of the congregation he will atone.
34 Vehayetah-zot lachem lechukat olam lechaper al-benei Yisra'el mikol-chatotam achat bashanah vaya'as ka'asher tzivah HASHEM et-Moshe
This shall be to you for an everlasting decree, to achieve atonement for the Children of Yisrael from all their sins, once a year."  He did as HASHEM commanded Moshe.
One may ask a question about this verse.  The Torah says, "This shall be to you for an everlasting decree" (16:34).   This cannot mean that the Yom Kippur service will constantly be done and never be annulled.  It is impossible to bring sacrifices except when the Holy Temple is standing. These cannot be brought now when there is no Temple.  However, the Yom Kippur fast will always exist whether the Temple stands or not.  However, the term "decree," chukah is not appropriate.  This word only denotes a commandment that does not have a readily understood, logical explanation, such as the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer), regarding which it is said, "This is the decree (chukah) of the Torah" (BaMidbar 19:2).  A fast, however, is something that is quite logical, since through it one's sins committed all year long can be atoned.  Therefore, it is not proper to refer to it as a chukah.

However, the Torah teaches us a lesson. G-d does not desire a fast.  G-d does not want His creatures to suffer; rather, He wants us to abandon our sins and repent and never again do evil deeds.

On Yom Kippur, we read the following words in the Haftorah: [Yisrael says,]

"Why is it that we have fasted and You [G-d] do not see?  Why is it that we have afflicted our soul and You act as if You do not know it?"

[G-d answers,] "Because on the day of your fast you pursue your business and go about your labor. You fast for strife and contention and to smite with the fist of wickedness.  You do not fast today so as to make your voice heard on high.  Is this the fast that I have chosen, the day for a man to afflict his soul?  Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush and spread sackcloth and ashes under him?  Will you call this a fast, an acceptable day to G-d?  Is not this fast that I have chosen?  Loosen the bonds of wickedness.  Undo the bands of the yoke and let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke.  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the poor that are cast out into your house?  When you see the naked, cover him and hide not yourself from your flesh.  Then your light shall break forth as the morning and your healing shall spring forth speedily and your righteousness shall go forth before you.  G-d's glory shall be behind you.  Then you shall call and G-d will answer.  You shall cry and He will say, 'Here I am'" (Yeshayahu 58:3-9)

This is the meaning of the verse.  Yisrael complains to G-d and says, "Why is it that we have fasted and you do not answer?  We go all day without eating and drinking, wearing sackcloth and ashes, but You, G-d, do not see.  You have not saved us from our troubles."

G-d replies, "How can I look upon your fast day?  You are not repenting.  Even on the day of your fast, you are going about your evil deeds of robbery and malicious speech.  Your fast is only an outward thing.  Are you really crying out to G-d that He should help you from your troubles?  You are not fasting today so that your voice should be heard on high.

"Somebody who sees you externally might think that you are angels.  But you cannot fool Me, for I know one's innermost thoughts, and I know that it would have been better had you not fasted, because this fast is nothing."

G-d says, "The fast that I want is that you open up your evil bonds, that each person abandon his evil deeds and repent, and never again do those bad deeds.  Let each person do good deeds, as he is able to do.  Share your bread with the hungry.  Bring the oppressed poor into your house.  If you see a person without clothing, cover him, and at the same time do not forget your own flesh and blood, your own close relatives.  Do whatever good deeds you can. Then you will call and G-d will answer.  You will cry out and He will say, 'Here I am.'"

The Torah therefore says, "This shall be to you an everlasing decree."  The Torah is speaking of the fasts and sacrifices that must be brought on Yom Kippur.  They must both be like a chukah, even the fast.  G-d does not need your fast.  All He wants from you is repentance, so that you abandon your evil deeds.  Then you can be sure that G-d will forgive you and cleanse you of your sins.

The Torah therefore says, "You will be purified before G-d" (16:30).  "Your purification must be in the heart where it is revealed only 'before G-d.'  Then your fast will be like a chukah.  You will not need it for your sins at all." (Alshekh)

When the Torah says, "You shall be cleansed before G-d," it teaches that Yom Kippur only atones for sins between man and G-d.  It cannot atone for sins between man and man.  If a man wrongs his fellow, strikes him, embarrasses him, steals his property, or swindles him, Yom Kippur is of no avail.  Sins such as these cannot be atoned through repentance, through even the greatest charity, through Yom Kippur, through studying Torah, or through fasting.  These sins do not involve G-d, but one's fellow man.  One cannot have atonement until he returns any money he has taken and gains forgiveness for any grief he might have caused.

If the victim will not forgive him, he must take three people and ask for forgiveness three times.  This is the repentance for such a sin.  Without this, one cannot gain atonement from on high.

More than three times, however, he is not required to go.  If the victim does not forgive him by then, the victim himself is considered the sinner.

The Torah therefore says, "You shall be cleansed before G-d."  It is only with regard to sins that are "before G-d" that Yom Kippur can atone. (Yad, Teshuvah 2; Orach Chayim 606; Magen Avraham ad. loc.)


The Yom Kippur Service Explained

Seven days before Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol would leave his house to be brought to the Palhedrin Chamber (Lishkat Palhedrin).  This was a chamber in the Temple.  The people would bring him there with great honor.

First they would bring to the Kohen Gadol's house chairs and couches for the Chief Justice (Av Beit Din), for the President (Nasi), for the Kohen Gadol, for the Associate High Priest (Segan Ha-kohanim), and for the king.  They would also prepare seventy silver chairs for the seventy members of the Sanhedrin who would all come to accompany him.

After all these leading figures had gathered in the Kohen Gadol's house, the elders of the Sanhedrin would stand on their feet and speak words of admonition (mussar) to the Kohen Gadol. The would say, "See before whom you are entering to perform the Yom Kippur service.  Be careful to perform the service in awe and reverence and with great concentration.  Be very careful that you not stumble and die, since this is not an ordinary place.  If you make mistake  you will not perform the atonement for all Yisrael.  The atonement for all Yisrael depends on you.  Be careful in your deeds that you not stumble through some sin that you might think to be trivial.  If you have committed a sin that is trivial in the eyes of people, it is still as weighty as many, many sins.  The scales are in G-d's Hands and only He knows the value of good deeds and sins as it is written, 'For G-d is a Master of knowledge' (1Shmuel 2:3)."

They would also say to him, "Look carefully at your fellow kohanim that they not sin.  Bring them to repent.  Be very aware before whom you are going to serve, before the King of Kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He who sits on the Throne of Judgment.  Therefore, watch out and be careful that the enemy not come with you.  This enemy is man's sin.  Your have no enemy greater than he.

After the Kohen Gadol heard all these words from the elders of the court he would tell them that he had already examined and scrutinized his deeds and had repented.

They would then go to the Sanctuary (Azarah) of the Holy Temple and he would summon all his fellow kohanim.  He would bind them by oath through G-d's holy Name that each one tell him any sins that he or any others might have committed.  He would then give a remedy so that each one could repent.

The king himself would also speak well to the Kohen Gadol and promise him that he would give him great honor when he came out in peace from the Holy of Holies.

After the elders spoke all these words to the Kohen Gadol while he was still in his house, they would make an announcement in the streets, "Come, give honor to the Kohen Gadol who is leaving his house to his chamber."

When the Benei Yisrael heard this announcement, they would all come and accompany him.

This was the order in which they went before him.

First, all the descendants of the kings of Yisrael would walk.  Then would come all those who were descendants of the kings of David's line, since they were more important.  The higher the status of people the closer they would be to the Kohen Gadol.  An announcer would walk before them and announce, "Give honor to the House of David."

After the House of David, the entire House of Levi would walk.  Again a crier would announce before them, "Give honor to the House of Levi."  The House of Levi consisted of 36,000 men.  All the leaders of the Levi'im would wear white and blue silk garments.

After the Levi'im, would march 24,000 Kohanim, all wearing white silk.

After them, marched those Levi'im who would sing in the Temple.  Following them would be the Temple musicians. Then would come the trumpet blowers.

Following them would be the ones who prepared the incense and then those who made the showbread (lechem ha-panim).  They would be followed by those who made the hangings and then the members of the Temple watch and then the treasurers.  They would then be followed by all those who performed other service in the Temple.

After all these the Sanhedrin would march.

They would be followed by 250 kohanim with staffs in their hands, clearing a path for the Kohen Gadol.

Only then would the Kohen Gadol march.

After the Kohen Gadol, all the priestly elders would mark two-by-two.

At the corners of the streets through which the Kohen Gadol would march, the heads of the Yeshivot would stand.  As the Kohen Gadol passed by they would say to him, "Sir High Priest, welcome.  When you go into the Holy of Holies, pray to G-d that He give us life and health so that we can immerse ourselves in His holy Torah."

When the Kohen Gadol would arrive at the gate of the Temple mount, which was the enclosure surrounding the Temple, he would recite a prayer.  He would pray for the peace for the kings of the Davidic line, the kohanim and the Temple.  When he prayed, the sound of the Amein responded by this great mass of people was so loud that any bird flying in the area would fall to the ground.

The Kohen Gadol would then prostrate himself before all the people and then he would go to his special chamber, trembling and with tears in his eyes. Two leaders of the Kohanim would go with him and then would separate all his fellow Kohanim from him.

All this honor was give the the Kohen when they entered the Temple.  However, when he left they would give him many times as much honor.  Everyone who lived in Yerushalayim would come to greet him with candles and burning torches in their hands.  They would all be wearing white garments. Every window would be decorated beautifully and lamps would be lit in the windows.  So many people would accompany the Kohen Gadol that he would not be able to reach his house before midnight.  All would try to kiss the Kohen Gadol's hand.

May G-d grant us that we quickly see the Holy Temple built and see the great glory that will exist there.  It is thus written, "Greater will be the glory of the last house than the first" (Chaggai 2:9). Amein.

All seven days that the Kohen Gadol was separated from his house in the chamber he also had to be separated from his wife.

During this week, they would sprinkle on him water mixed with ashes of the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer), on the third day of his separation and on the seventh day.  This was because there was concern that he might have come in contact with the dead without being aware of it.  The Torah says regarding defilement by the dead, "He must be purified on the third day and on the seventh day..." (BaMidbar 19:12).

During those seven days, the Kohen Gadol would be made accustomed to offer the tamid offering that was presented every day.  He would dash the blood of the tamid offering on the Altar, and he would also burn the incense, and clean out the lamps of the Menorah, and burn the parts of the tamid on the Altar.

He was given elders of the Sanhedrin during those seven days to teach him and to review all the service that he would perform on Yom Kippur.  Those sages would say to him, "Sir High Priest, recite the order of the service with your mouth, lest you have forgotten or lest you have not learned it properly."

On the seventh day, which was the day before Yom Kippur, they would stand the Kohen Gadol facing the eastern gate of the Temple.  They would bring bulls, rams, and sheep before him and make them pass by so that he would become accustomed to seeing and dealing with the animals that were used for the service.

All seven days, they would not withhold any food or drink from him.  The day before Yom Kippur, however, they would withhold from him any food that heats up the body that may bring him to have a nocturnal emission.  Thus, he had to avoid such foods as eggs and milk.  He also was not allowed to eat too many other foods, since overeating can cause one to sleep and this was not a proper time for that.  On Yom Kippur night he was suppose to be up all night and not sleep, lest he have a nocturnal emission.

On the day before Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol would be bound by oath.  They would say to him, "Lord High Priest, we are the agents of the court and you are an agent of the court and our agent.  We swear you by the ONe whos Name rests in this house that you not change anything from what we told you regarding the Yom Kippur service."

This oath was because of the incense, so that the Kohen Gadol would not offer it as the Saduccees did.

When the elders made that oath, he would go aside and weep, and they would also go aside and weep.  The Kohen Gadol would weep because they suspected him of being a Saduccee, while they would go aside and weep because it was very possible that they had suspected an innocent person, and one who suspects an innocent person is punished through his own body.

All through the night on Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol would lecture if he was a scholar.  If not, others would lecture on Torah subjects in his presence.  Whenever he became drowsy, the young kohanim would snap their fingers to wake him up.  They would say, "Lord High Priest, stand up on your feet so that you not fall asleep."  This would continue until the first light of dawn. (Yad, Avodat Yom HaKippurim 4)


How the Daily Service Would Begin

Each day the kohanim would draw lots to see who takes the ash offering (terumat ha-deshen) from the Altar, after the morning dawned.  (Yad, Temidim U'Mussafim 5)

On Yom Kippur, however, this lottery was made at midnight since by dawn the Sanctuary (Azarah) was completely filled with men.

They would place a linen sheet between the Kohen Gadol and the people and he would take off his weekday clothing.  He would then immerse in a mikvah and dry himself off and put on the golden vestments. He would then wash his hands and feet from a golden basin.  it is true that the Kohanim normally washed their hands from the special washstand known as the Kiyor.  However, on Yom Kippur, out of respect for the Kohen Gadol, a special gold basin would be used.

The Kohen Gadol would then begin the slaughter of the morning talmid.  He would slaughter the major portion of the two "signs" (simanim), the gullet and the windpipe then allow another Kohen to complete the slaughter.

The Kohen Gadol would accept the blood in a vessel and dash it on the Altar according to the law.

He would then go into the Sanctuary (Hechal) and he would prepare five lamps on the Menorah and he would also burn the incense that was burned together with the morning tamid.  Then he would prepare the last two lamps of the Menorah and burn the tamid offering on the Altar as it was done every day as discussed in Parashat Tzav.

After that he would bring the libation offering, which consisted of one tenth efah (two quarts) of wheat meal and the wafer offering (minchah chabitin), which was the minchah offering that the Kohen Gadol brought every day (6:13).  He would then pour the libation of wine with the tamid offering as was done every day.

After offering the daily tamid offering he would present a bull and seven lambs, which was the additional or Mussaf offering (BaMidbar 29:8).

If Yom Kippur fell on Shabbat, before the Yom Kippur mussaf the two lambs of the Shabbat mussaf would be presented.  On the Shabbat and festivals, offerings were presented in addition to the tamid.  These were referred to as the mussaf offerings (Parashat Pinchas)

After finishing the tamid and the bull and seven sheep which were the mussaf offering, the Kohen Gadol would go into the chamber where the hides of sacrifices were brought.  This was one of the eight chambers that were in the Hall of the Benei Yisrael (Ezrat Yisrael).  It was called the Parvah chamber (Lishkat Ha-Parvah).  The Kohanim would spread a linen sheet between the Kohen Gadol and the people.  Before he took off his gold vestments, he would wash his hands and feet in the same manner discussed earlier.  Then eh would take off his gold vestments, immerse himself in a mikvah, and put on his white vestments.  These were the linen vestments in which he would perform the Yom Kippur service.

He would then wash his hands and feet again and come to the bull which the Kohen Gadol had to bring out of his own property.  The bull was standing between the Main Hall (Ulam) and the Altar.  Its head was facing toward the south.  The Kohen Gadol would stand to the east, facing west, and he would then do the laying of hands (semichah).  That is, he would press his two hands on the head of the bull.

The Kohen Gadol would then confess.  He would say, "O G-d I have erred, I have sinned, I have rebelled before You..." as we have cited in the Avodah service.  Instead of saying "G-d," he would actually pronounce the Tetragrammaton (YKVK).

When the kohanim and the people heard the Kohen Gadol pronounce the Tetragrammaton, the would bow and prostrate themselves on the floor, and they would say,
Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom forever and ever.
The Kohen Gadol would draw out his pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton so that he would finish just as the people finished saying, "Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom forever and ever."   He would then complete the verse, saying "You will be cleansed."  [He was saying the verse "before G-d (YKVK) you will be cleansed" (16:30).] (Yad, Avodat HaKippurim 4)

When the Kohen Gado recited the Tetragrammaton on Yom Kippur it could be heard at a very great distance.  This was a great miracle, like when the Torah was given, as it was written, "Moshe spoke and G-d answered in a voice" (Shemot 19:19).  G-d made Moshe's voice so strong that all 600,000 Benei Yisrael could hear it.  Similarly, the same was true of the Kohen Gadol.  G-d would make his voice so loud so that all the people could hear it.

We thus say in the Avodah:
When the Kohanim and the people standing in the Sanctuary heard the Explicit Name emanating from the mouth of the Kohen Gadol...
The words, "emanating from the mouth of the Kohen Gadol" denotes that the Name came forth on its own accord. (Tzeror HaMor, Yitro; Shenei Luchot HaBrit; Lekach Tov)

The Kohen Gadol would then go to the Nikanor Gate, which was one of the seven gates in the large hall.  This gate was by the Benei Yisrael's Hall (Ezrat Yisrael) to the east, to the north of the Altar.  There, two goats were waiting.  These two goats had to be alike in appearance and size and in value.  They were also purchased together.

The Kohen would make a lottery with two golden tabs.  On one of them it was written, "L'YKVK" (to G-d) an the other "L'Azazel."  They were in a wooden box which was large enough for the Kohen Gadol's two hands to fit in at once.

The Assistant Kohen Gadol stood to the right of the Kohen Gadol, and the head of the paternal house, that is, the leader of the kohanim whose turn it was to serve that day, stood to his left.  The two goats stood facing the west, that is, toward the sanctuary.  One was to the right of the Kohen Gadol an done was to his left.


The Kohen Gadol would place both his hands into the box at once take out the two lots.  He would open his hands.  If the lot to G-d was in his right hand, the Assistant Kohen Gadol would say, "Oh Lord High Priest, lift up your right hand to honor G-d's Name."  If it was in his left hand, he would say, "Lift up your left hand."

The Kohen Gadol would place the two lots on the two goats.  The lot that came in his right hand he would place on the goat stand to his right and the one in his left would be placed on the goat standing to his left. When he placed the lot on the goat designated for G-d he would say, "A sin offering to G-d."  However, instead of saying "G-d" he would actually pronounce the Tetragrammaton (YKVK).

When the Kohanim and people would hear this Name, the would prostrate themselves in the manner discussed earlier.

The Kohen would then tie a hank of crimson wool between the horns of the goat designated for Azazel.  This was so that the two goats would not be confused. (Bertenoro on Mishnah, Yoma, Chapter 4)


The Kohen would then again go to his bull.  He would press his two hands on its head and confess.  He would say, "Oh G-d, I have erred, I have sinned, I have rebelled before you..." as discussed in the Avodah.  When he mentioned the Tetragrammaton again the Kohanim and people would bow and prostrate themselves and say, "Blessed is the Name of His glorious kingdom forever and ever."

After the second confession, he would slaughter his bull and receive its blood in a vessel.  He would then give it to another Kohen to mix the blood so that it would not become congealed.  The one who was mixing the blood would stay on the fourth row of tiles in the Hechal Sanctuary.

The Kohen Gadol would leave the blood with the one mixing it and take a gold fire pan.  He would go up to the top of the Altar and fill it with coals from the west side of the Altar.  He would then go down and place this also on the fourth row of tiles in the Azarah.


From the Chamber of Vessels (Lishkat HaKelim) where the sacred vessels were kept, they would bring out a spoon and a fire pan full of incense. It was brought to the Kohen Gadol and he would take a double handful.  It could not be piled too high nor could it be lacking less than a full handful.  He would empty it out from his hands into the spoon.  He would take the fire pan in his right hand and the incense in his left and enter the Holy of Holies.  This was the inner sanctuary where the Aron containing the two Tablets stood.  He would place the fire pan between the Aron's poles, which were made of acacia wood covered with gold and were used to carry the Aron when they traveled.


He would hold one end of the spoon with some of his fingers and his teeth, and he would empty out the incense from his palms with is thumbs.  He would fill the palms of his hands with the incense, as it was at first.  This was one of the most difficult services in the Temple.  Then he would place the incense on the coals, near the Holy Aron, far enough from it that it would not become soiled by the smoke.  For this reason, he would place the incense at some distance from the Aron.  He would then wait there until the entire place was filled with the smoke of the incense.


Then he would walk backwards in awe and reverence, little by little until he emerged from the veil.  He would then come into the Hechal sanctuary, which was just outside the Holy of Holies.  There he would recite a short prayer. He would not remain in the Hechal sanctuary too long, so as not to frighten the Benei Yisrael, since if he stayed there too long they might become concerned and fearful that he had died because of some sin that he committed.  As was written before, it is forbidden for any person to be in the Hechal sanctuary when the Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies to burn the incense and when he sprinkled the blood of the bull and the goat in the sanctuary.


The prayer that the Kohen Gadol would recite is, "May it be You Will O HaShem our G-d and G-d of our fathers that this coming year be to us and for the entire House of Yisrael wherever they are..." This entire prayer is found in the Avodah.

The Kohen Gadol would leave the Hechal sanctuary and take the blood of the bull that was being mixed.  He would enter the Holy of Holies a second time and sprinkle the blood in front of the Kaporet (ark cover). He would sprinkle it eight times.  First, he would sprinkle it upward.  Of course, the blood would not touch the Kaporet; rather, it would fall below.  the seven last times he would direct his hands downward and sprinkle directly toward the Kaporet.  Each time he would sprinkle, he would count one, one and one, one and two....


The Kohen Gadol would then leave the Holy of Holies and he would put the blood of the bull on the golden pedestal in the Hechal sanctuary.  There were to gold pedestals in the Hechal sanctuary.  On one of them he would place the blood of the bull.

He would then leave the Hechal sanctuary and slaughter the goat which had on it the lot for G-d.  He would receive the blood in another vessel.  He would then enter the Holy of Holies and sprinkle the blood in exactly  the same manner as he did the blood of the bull.

He would then leave the Holy of Holies and put the goat's blood on the second pedestal in the Hechal sanctuary.

He would take the blood that he put on the first pedestal and sprinkle it seven times toward the parochet (veil) in the direction of the Holy Aron.  Of course, he would be standing outside the Holy of Holies at this time.


He would then put down the bull's blood and take the goat's blood, and he would sprinkle another eight times toward the parochet in exactly the above manner.

He would then pour the bull's blood into the goat's blood and then pour all the blood back into the vessel that held the bull's blood, so as to mix the two bloods together very well.  He would then go to the Golden Incense Altar and stand between the Altar and the Menorah.  He would then sprinkle the mixed blood on the four corners of the Incense Altar, beginning with the northeast corner and ending with the southeast corner.  On the other three corners, he would sprinkle upward, but on the last one he would sprinkle downward so that the edge of his robe would not become stained by the blood.


The Kohen Gadol would then push aside the coals and ashes of the Altar to both sides so that its golden top was visible.  On this uncovered area he would then sprinkle seven times to the south.

He would sprinkle blood a total of 43 times during the service.  Each time, he would dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle it.

The Kohen Gadol would then leave the Hechal sanctuary and pour out the rest of the blood on the western foundation of  the outer sacrificial Altar.

The Kohen Gadol would then come to the goat upon which there was the lot "L'Azazel."  He would place both his hands on it and make confession for all Yisrael.  He would say, "O HaShem, Your people have erred, sinned and rebelled before You..."  He would actually pronounce the Tetragrammaton and the Kohanim and the people hearing it would prostrate themselves to the ground.


He would then call one of the Kohanim who had been designated from the day before Yom Kippur, and would give him the goat to bring to the desert.  On the day before Yom Kippur, people would go to huts that had been put up previously to accompany the person sending it.  Those in the last hut would stand at the edge of the area where one can go (t'chum) to see from a distance what the person sending it would do.

Half of a hank of scarlet wool he would tie to the rock and half he would tie between the goat's horns.  He would then push the goat from the cliff.  Before it reached halfway down the mountain it was totally dismembered.  He would then say, "This is the way the sins of the House of Yisrael should be destoryed."


The Kohen would then come to the bull and goat whose blood was sprinkled in the Holy of Holies and the Hechal sanctuary.  He would take out the designated portions and place them in a basin, which is one of the Temple vessels, to be burned on the Altar.  The body of the bull and the goat were carried by four people on two poles, two before and two after.  It was brought out of Yerushalayim to a place that was called "the Place of Ashes" (Beit Ha-deshen).


The Kohen Gadol would then go out to the Women's Chamber (Ezrat Nashim).  He would sit there, and all the people would stand opposite him.  The beadle would take a Torah scroll and give it to the head of the congregation.  The head of the congregation would give it to the Assistant Kohen Gadol and the Assistant Kohen Gadol would give it to the Kohen Gadol.  The Kohen Gadol would then stand up and read from Acharei Mot (VaYikra 16), "Only on the tenth..." (VaYikra 23:26-32), in the portion of Emor.  The Torah would then be rolled up and the Kohen Gadol would take it in his bosom and say, "More than I have read is written here." He would then recite the section regarding the Yom Kippur mussaf (BaMidbar 29:7-11) by heart.



After he finished reading, he would then recite the blessing of the Torah.  He would also say another seven blessings:

Retzeh, "accept" (from the Amidah)
Modim, "we give thanks."
S'lach Lanu, "forgive us...," (from the Amidah).

He would conclude this blessing by saying:
Blessed are You, HaShem, Who forgives the sins of Your people Yisrael in mercy.

These are the first three blessings.  The fourth blessing was that the Temple should stand and he would conclude it:
Blessed are You, HaShem, Who has chosen Tziyon.

The fifth blessing was for Yisrael that its kingdom remain and not be cut off.  he would end this blessing:
Blessed are You, HaShem, Who chose Yisrael.

The sixth  blessing was to bless the Kohanim that G-d should accept their service.  He would end this blessing by saying:
Blessed are You, HaShem, Who sanctifies the kohanim.

In the seventh blessing he would present supplication and prayers, as he could.  He would conclude:
O HaShem helpYour people Yisrael, since Your people need help. Blessed are You, HaShem, Who hears prayer. 

These were the seven blessings that the Kohen Gadol would recite.  Then he would wash his hands and feet and take off his white vestments.  He would immerse and put on his golden vestments.  He would wash his hands and feet again and present the mussaf goat offering as a sin offering.  At night, the Kohen would eat its meat.

He would then present his ram and the ram for the mussaf offering which was called "the people's ram."  Both of these rams were presented as burnt offerings.

He would then burn the designated parts of all these offerings, as well as the designated parts of the goat that was burned outside of Yerushalayim.

The Kohen Gadol would then offer the afternoon tamid along with its minchah offering and libations and the rest of his wafer offering.  These would be prepared according to the law.  After it was all completed, he would wash his hands and feet and take off the gold vestments.  He would immerse, dry himself off, and wash his hands and feet.  He would put on his white vestments and enter the Holy of Holies to take out the spoon and fire pan used for the incense, which he had left there.

He would then wash his hands and feet again, take off his gold vestments and immerse.  Each time before he immersed, he would wash his hands and feet and he would also do the same after immersing.  He would then put on his gold vestments and burn the evening incense and light the Menorah as on other days.

He would then wash his hands and feet, take off his gold vestments and put on his ordinary clothing and return home.  All the people would accompany him with great honor, as discussed earlier.

When Yom Kippur was over, he would make a great feast for friends and relatives.  It would be to him like a festival of great joy since he left the Holy of Holies in peace.


After Yom Kippur, he would go to the goldsmith.  He would have him make a gold tablet, upon which was engraved the words,
I _________ son of _________ served as Kohen Gadol in the great and holy Temple, serving the One whose holy Name dwells here, in the year __________ of creation.  May the One Who let me be worthy of performing this service also allow my son to perform this service.  May it be Your Will that You have mercy on us.

Therefore may it be G-d's Will that He have mercy on us and bring us out of this exile for the sake of His Name.  May He return us to His Divine service quickly in our days.  May this be His Will.

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MeAm Lo'ez; Bachya; Rashi; Baal HaTurim

Pictures are from the Temple Institute

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