Yoma, Chapter Three, Mishnah Seven



This mishnah discusses just how expensive were the special linen garments which the high priest wore on Yom Kippur.  Thinking of the high priest wearing very expensive white clothing on Yom Kippur brings to mind the white dress worn by a bride on her wedding day. 


Mishnah Seven

1)      In the morning he would wear Pelusian linen worth twelve minas (1200 dinar/zuz); at dusk Indian linen worth eight hundred zuz, the words of Rabbi Meir.

2)      The sages say: in the morning he would wear [garments] worth eighteen minas and at dusk [garments] worth twelve minas, altogether thirty minas.   

3)      These [costs] were at the charge of the community and if he wanted to add, he adds more out of his own pocket. 



Section one:  According to Rabbi Meir the linen clothes that the high priest wore in the morning came from the city Pelusium in Egypt.  This city was in the northern end of the Nile, where the Nile ends and one turns east on route to ancient Palestine or Syria (plug “Pelusium” into Google and you’ll find this info as well!).  The Targum (the Aramaic translation of the Tanakh) translates Ramses into Pelusium. 

The linen that the high priest wore at dusk was from India and it was slightly less expensive.

Section two:  The sages say that the high priest’s garments were even more expensive than that, the morning garments being worth 1800 dinars/zuz and the dusk garments worth 1200.  We should note that both agree that the morning clothes were worth more than those worn at dusk.

Section three:  The mishnah now teaches that if the high priest should wish to buy even more expensive clothing, he may do so but it must come out of his own pocket.  His “expense account” which comes from the Temple funds is either 20 mina (2000 zuz), according to Rabbi Meir, or 30 mina (3000 zuz) according to the sages. Should he wish to spend more he must use his own funds.