Yoma, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Four

 

Introduction

This is the final mishnah that discusses the Yom Kippur ritual.  As we have already noted many times, every time he takes off his clothes he must wash his hands and and immerse in the mikveh.  When he puts on new clothes he has to wash his hands and feet again.

 

Mishnah Four

1)      He then sanctified his hands and feet, stripped off his clothes, went down and immersed himself, came up and dried himself. They brought him the white clothes, he put them on and sanctified his hands and his feet. Then he went in to bring out the ladle and the fire-pan.

2)      He then sanctified his hands and feet, stripped off his clothes, went down and immersed himself, came up and dry himself. They brought him the golden clothes, he put them on, sanctified his hands and feet, and went in to burn up the dusk incense, and takes care of the lamp.

3)      He sanctified his hands and feet and stripped, went down, immersed himself, came up and dried himself. They brought him his own clothes and he put them on.

4)      And they would accompany him to his house.

a)      And he would make a day of festivity for his friends whenever he came out of the Holy [of Holies] in peace.

 

Explanation

Section one:  He now changes his clothes in order to put on the white clothes, which are the special clothes special for Yom Kippur, because he needs to go back into the Holy of Holies to get the ladle with the incense that he left there in 5:1.  It was left there until all of the incense had been burned up. 

Section two:  He now puts back on the golden clothes so that he can offer the daily dusk incense offering.  This incense offering was mentioned above in 3:5.  He also takes care of the lamp, a daily chore which we learned about in 1:2.  We should note that some commentators debate whether he offers the dusk tamid sacrifice before or after the dusk incense offering.

Section three:  Finally, the high priest’s exhausting day is over and he may put on his own clothes and go home.

Section four:   The day doesn’t end with the high priest just walking home alone.  The other priests accompany him to his house and there he makes a big party to celebrate his having successfully entered the Holy of Holies, the closest one can get to God’s presence, and having come out alive. As we have mentioned on many occasions, this was an event that was perceived to be very dangerous and hence the high priest must have been relieved to have survived.  [Perhaps this was the first break-fast! Did they have lox and bagels back then?]    

 

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