Talmud Navigator

For the week ending 16 November 2013 / 13 Kislev 5774

Yoma 9 - 15

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

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  • The pressure exerted by new government officials and its impact on the bakers
  • The short-lived careers of kohanim gedolim in Second Beit Hamikdash
  • Why the Shiloh Sanctuary and the First and Second Beit Hamikdash were destroyed
  • Comparing the First Beit Hamikdash period with that of the Second
  • The past and future of nations, particularly Persia and Rome
  • A mezuza for the quarters of the kohen gadol and for a succa
  • Which buildings and which entrances require a mezuza
  • To which houses do the laws of nigei batim (house leprosy) apply
  • Was Yerushalayim the property of one tribe or of all
  • Initiating the substitute kohen gadol when he takes over on Yom Kippur
  • The avneit (belt of material) of the kohen gadol and the regular kohen
  • The fate of the sacred garments worn by the kohen gadol on Yom Kippur
  • The status of the substitute kohen gadol after the first is reinstated
  • Comparative probability of death and ritual contamination of kohen gadol
  • The problem of assuring that the kohen gadol has a wife on Yom Kippur and only one
  • The ability of a kohen gadol to perform service on the day a close relative dies
  • The activity of the kohen gadol during seven-day separation and throughout the year
  • The impact of the Red Heifer purification waters on the one who touches or carries them, and upon the one who applies them and the one upon whom they are applied
  • Which came first – the incense offering or the fixing of the Menorah lamps
  • The application to the altar of the blood of the daily communal olah sacrifice

Honor, Beauty and Age

  • Yoma 12b

The sacred garments worn by the kohanim for the performance of their priestly duties in the Beit Hamikdash had to reflect the “honor and beauty” (Shmot 28:2) for which they were intended. Garments that were tattered or stained were therefore disqualified.

What about garments that were whole and clean but worn from usage? In line with the general rule of “no room for practicing poverty in a place of wealth,” which is applied to many aspects of the House of G-d, there would be room to consider that new garments should be made every year to replace the old ones. The Sage Rebbie, however, saw in a seemingly superfluous word in the Torah a message that worn garments retain their sacred status.

In the chapter dealing with the daily ritual of tithing the ashes on the altar, the Torah commands the kohen performing this rite “that he shall put on his linen garments, and his linen breeches shall he put on his flesh” (Vayikra 6:3). The repetition of the word yilbash (shall put on) after already writing velovash (that he shall put on) led several Sages to reach different conclusions as to what message was being relayed by this apparent redundancy.

Rabbi Yehuda understood it to signal that even though the Torah explicitly mentions only two of the four priestly garments worn for performance of the ashes rite, all four were actually needed.

Rabbi Dossa interpreted it as a sanction for using the garments worn by the kohen gadol on Yom Kippur for the use of a regular kohen throughout the year.

Rebbie rejects this latter approach, and one of his reasons is that it seems improper for garments that were used for the more elevated service of Yom Kippur to be subsequently used for a lesser purpose. His conclusion is that the Torah wished to communicate that there is no need to make new garments each year and that worn ones are fine as long as they are neither tattered nor stained.

What the Sages Say

“Fear of G-d lengthens life, while the years of the wicked are cut short (Mishlei 10:27). The First Beit Hamikdash, which lasted for 410 years, was spanned by only 18 kohanim gedolim while the Second one (in which there were many undeserving kohanim gedolim who bought the position from corrupt rulers), more than 300 kohanim gedolim served in a 280-year span of its 420-year history. The conclusion is that because of their wickedness they died within the year of their appointment.”

  • Rabbi Yochanan (Yoma 9a)

“If a kohen gadol was replaced because of some temporary disqualification and eventually reinstated, his replacement can no longer serve in a kohen gadol capacity, because this would create hard feelings, nor can he serve as a regular kohen because this would be a demotion, and the rule is that in matter of holiness one only goes up and never down.”

  • Rabbi Yossi (Yoma 12b)

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