The Christian Broadcasting Network

Christianity's Jewish Roots

Watch CBN's Rosh Hashanah Celebration

More Christianity's Jewish Roots

Tour Israel with

Inside Israel from CBN News

Spiritual Life

More Bible Study and Theology

More from Spiritual Life

Jewish roots

The Temple Service on Yom Kippur

By Intercessors Network -- "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.

The 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.

Today, 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 in Temple.

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 sensuality (Hirsch)

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 Shalom

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, dean of the Ohr Torah Institutions

Learn more about Christianity's Jewish Roots

More Bible Study and Theology

More from Spiritual Life

Used by permission, The Intercessors Network. Sign up for their e-mail updates.

*This article was originally published in 1978. Jews for Jesus. Used with permission.

  • Translate
  • Print Page

Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?

A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.

Do You Know Jesus
Grow In Your Faith

Need Prayer?

Call 1-800-700-7000
Email your prayer request

Email iconSign up for E-mail Updates Full List