Yoma, Chapter Three, Mishnah Four



This mishnah proceeds to outline the precise order of the day’s worship.  We need to remember that on this day the high priest must basically perform all of the work himself.  Hence we will feel throughout this description a sense of his being hurried; after all there is a lot to do.


Mishnah Four

1)      They spread out a linen sheet between him and the people.

2)      He stripped off [his clothes], went down and immersed himself, came up and dried himself.  

3)      They brought him the golden garments, he put them on and sanctified his hands and feet.

4)      They brought him the tamid.

5)      He made the required cut and some one else finished it for him.  

a)      He received the blood and sprinkled it.

6)      He went inside to smoke the morning incense and to trim the lamps;

7)      And to offer up the head and the limbs and the griddle cakes and the wine.



Section one:  For modesty’s sake, when he got undressed they would spread out a linen sheet between him and the rest of the people.  The Talmud explains that the reason for the sheet being of linen is to remind him that when performing services that are done only on Yom Kippur he will need to wear all white clothes from linen.  The rest of the year he wears eight garments, four of which are made of gold (as we shall explain below).

Section two:  Now that the sheet is up, he can remove his clothes and go and immerse himself for the first time during the day.  He then dries off and is ready to get dressed.

Section three:  The first clothes he wears are the same clothes that he wears all year long, the “golden garments”.  The garments are:  “a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a fringed tunic, a headdress and a sash (Exodus 28:4) and a “frontlet” (v. 36) and “breeches” (v. 42).  In three of them there was some gold, in the breastpiece, the ephod, and the robe (it had golden bells) and the frontlet was made totally of gold.  However, before he puts on his clothes he again washes his hands.  Note however that when he removed his previous clothing he did not wash his hands because at that time he was just wearing his own clothes. From this point until the day’s worship is completed, he will wash his hands both when putting on new clothes and taking off the old ones.

Section four:  After he has put on the clothes, they bring him the lamb to slaughter as the morning tamid offering. 

Section five:  The high priest begins the slaughtering process by slicing the animal’s neck in a means that renders it “kosher”—fit for consumption.  This means he cuts the windpipe and the gullet.  Since there is a lot of service to be done, the high priest immediately receives the blood and sprinkles it.  Someone else completes the slaughtering process so that the priest can be free to do other things.

Section six:  Having slaughtered the tamid, the high priest now turns his attention to the incense.  He enters into the Temple (the Ulam) where the golden altar is found and turns the incense into smoke (see Exodus 30:7). At the same time he removes the ashes from the menorah (ibid, and see above mishnah 2:3).

Section seven:  He now must bring the head and limbs of the tamid sacrifice up to the altar (above 2:3). He must also offer his own daily minhah offering, which consists of griddle cakes (Leviticus 6:13-14).  Finally, he must offer the wine that always accompanies the tamid offering (see above 2:3).  The mishnah does not mention offering the tamid minhah (grain offering).  Perhaps it is included in the “griddle cakes”, which also come from grain although they are prepared differently.