The Temple Service on Yom
-- "And the Kohanim and the
people standing in the Courtyard - when they would hear the glorious, awesome
Name, the Ineffable one, emanating from the Kohen Gadol's mouth, in holiness and
purity, they would kneel and prostrate themselves, give thanks and say, 'Blessed
is the Name of His glorious kingdom for all eternity.'"
In the middle of
the Mussaf service, we recite the Kohen Gadol's Seder Avodah, order of service.
This recalls in a somewhat detailed fashion, the service as performed by the Kohen
Gadol in the Holy Temple during the day of Yom Kippur. The Kohen Gadol's service
was both physically and mentally exhausting as it required both physical dexterity
(while fasting and having no sleep) and total mental concentration.
eyes of all Israel were raised towards the Kohen Gadol's order of service, which
began toward the break of dawn. On his success, the atonement of all Israel was
dependent. When the Kohen Gadol's service was performed properly, Israel's total
forgiveness was made manifest for all eyes to see. The Kohen Gadol tied a cord
of red painted wool between the horns of the scapegoat. Another such cord had
been tied by him around the neck of the goat reserved for the sin-offering, so
that it might not be commingled with the other goats held for the remaining offering
of the day. The cord used for the scapegoat was later divided in two. One remaining
between the scapegoat's horns, and the other half hung upon the opening of the
hallway leading to the Sanctuary, so that all might see it.
In years when
the avodah was accepted by G-d and atonement was granted Israel, both parts of
the cord turned white like snow, in accord with the verse, "If your sins should
be like red thread, they will turn like snow. (Isaiah Chapter 1) Thereupon all
eyes saw G-d's forgiveness and the hearts of the people rejoiced.
3 times during the Seder Avodah we prostrate ourselves on the ground as they did
in the days of the temple. (By the way, the paper towels given out are not to
keep your knees from getting dirty, but rather involve a halachic issue of keeping
a separation between you and the ground.) We try to relive and experience, as
much as possible, the feelings of inspiration and closeness to G-d that existed
On the holiest day of the year, in the holiest place on earth,
the holiest man on the planet, uttered the holiest word in the Universe.. Such
was the task of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur.
May we all see the rebuilding
of Jerusalem today, here in our times.
Torah Readings for Yom Kippur
On the morning of Yom Kippur, two Torah Scrolls are removed from the
Aron HaKodesh (Holy Ark).
The Torah Reading is from Vayikrah (Leviticus)
Chapter 16, verse 1-34. This portion discusses the instructions to Moshe and Aharon
concerning the procedure for the priestly service on Yom Kippur, which would enable
them to achieve atonement for Israel. The portion then details the laws of Yom
Kippur. There are six aliyahs (a number used only on Yom Kippur) and a Maftir.
When Yom Kippur falls out on Shabbos, there are 7. The Maftir is read from a second
Torah Scroll and is from BaMidbar (Numbers) Chapter 29, verse 7-11. The maftir
relates the Sacrificial Service for Yom Kippur.
Following the Maftir, the
Haftorah is read. The Haftorah is from Yeshayahu (Isaiah) Chapter 57: verse 14
until Chapter 58, verse 14. Isaiah urges the Jewish People to return to Hashem
through good deeds, kindness and sincere Teshuvah.
In the afternoon, during
Mincha, one Torah Scroll is removed from the Aron HaKodesh. The Torah reading
is from Vayikrah (Leviticus) Chapter 18, verse 1-30. The portion deals with forbidden
sexual relationships. Though the exact reason for reading this section now is
not entirely clear, here are some possible reasons. 1) They are read now because
everyone is in shul. 2) It is as if to say, "Though right now you are on a lofty
spiritual level on Yom Kippur, don't think you cannot drop down in a second to
the worst abominations. 3) The cornerstone of morality is self-control over animal
Following the three aliyahs, the Haftorah is read.
The Haftorah is the book of Yona (Jonah). Though everyone knows that a large fish
swallowed Yona, the message of Yona is actually a timeless lesson in the power
of Teshuva and G-d's desire to help man rather than punish him.
Chag Sameach and Shabbat
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, dean of the Ohr Torah Institutions
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*This article was originally
published in 1978. Jews for Jesus. Used with permission.
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