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Yoma 19: Sadducee Drama and Keeping the Kohen Gadol Awake

More on preparing the kohen gadol before Yom Kippur. For example, assessing the fitness if the given kohen gadol in the lishkat ha-gazit – done by the Sanhedrin. Note how much attention was paid to determining whether the kohen was fit. What if he wasn’t at risk of being a Sadducee, etc.? Why did they put him through such a rigorous preparation time, walking from end to end of the Temple, to get to the right chambers? Perhaps to make sure he’s fit, or why would he bother? Maybe to keep a fit kohen humble. Plus: The story of a Sadducee who messed with the service of the incense, and what happened to him. A theological argument against those who defied the rabbinic approach. Note that the calf imagery is consistently connected to seeing and worshiping of God. Also, the efforts the regular kohanim would take to keep the kohen gadol awake: they would sing! “If Hashem won’t build the house…” And the rest of the city would stay up with him! “Behold, the Guardian of Israel doesn’t slumber or sleep.” (With thanks to YouTube and the Shira Choir).


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Anne and Yardaena

Anne Gordon is the deputy editor of Ops & Blogs at The Times of Israel. She is a veteran educator, having taught in high school and post-high school institutions in Israel and America for several decades. Yardaena Osband is a pediatrician and teaches in her community and online. They both hail from Boston, proud alumna of Maimonides School, where they first learned Gemara. Talking Talmud is their conversation (via podcast) on the daf yomi. They say: "Learning the daf? We have something for you to think about. Not learning the daf? We have something for you to think about! (Along with a taste of the daf...) Join the conversation with us!"
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