Latest update: January 2nd, 2014
The New And The Old
“The Kohen Gadol, Due To Fatigue…”
According to the Sages (Mishnah 53b), the order of the blood avodah performed by the kohen gadol on Yom Kippur was as follows: 1. The blood of the bull was sprinkled inside the Kodesh HaKodashim. 2. The vessel containing the remaining bull blood was placed on a golden stand in the Heichal. 3. The goat was slaughtered and its blood was sprinkled inside the Kodesh HaKodashim. 4. The goat blood was placed on a golden stand in the Heichal. 5. The blood of the bull was taken from its stand. 6. The bull blood was then sprinkled inside the Heichal toward the paroches. 7. The bull blood was returned to its stand. 8. The goat blood was taken. 9. The goat blood was sprinkled inside the Heichal. 10. The two bloods were mixed together and applied to the inner mizbeach.
R. Yehuda maintains that there was only one stand in the Heichal with place for only one vessel. Consequently, he reverses steps 4 and 5 and maintains that the vessel with the bull blood was first taken from its stand and then the goat blood was deposited in its place. Likewise, steps 7 and 8 were also reversed in the same manner for the same reason.
The Gemara, on our daf, explains that R. Yehuda maintains that the kohen gadol, due to fatigue on Yom Kippur from fasting, might confuse the two bloods, accidentally taking the goat blood instead of the bull blood or vice versa.
Shabbos/Rosh Chodesh Torah Reading
The Rema (Orach Chayim 147:8) rules that on a day when we read from two sifrei Torah (e.g., Rosh Chodesh or Yom Tov that falls on Shabbat), the first sefer should not be removed from the bimah (after we finish reading from it) until the second sefer is placed next to it. This is because of the rule that one should not be left devoid of mitzvos. Therefore, before removing the first mitzvah object (in our case, the first Sefer Torah) we should take hold of the second mitzvah object (the second Sefer Torah).
Preeminence Of The Right
The Magen Avraham (147:11) writes that the Sages in our mishnah, who rule that the old blood should be deposited on its stand before the new blood is taken, seem to take a view that runs counter to that of the Rema. In their view, one should first complete the first mitzvah in its entirety (and deposit it in its place) before taking hold of the second mitzvah object (the goat blood, a second Torah Scroll, etc.).
The Magen Avraham, seeking to reconcile the two views, suggests that the Sages only rule as they do because of the halacha that the kohen gadol’s avodah must be performed with his right hand (which is considered to be the preeminent one). Therefore, the kohen gadol has no choice but to first free up his right hand which is holding the old blood by depositing it on a stand so that he can then take the new blood with his right hand as well.
However, in general, where the law of using one’s right hand is not operative, one should act as the Rema states. One should take hold of the new mitzvah object before depositing the old one in order that one not be left (even momentarily) devoid of mitzvos.
About the Author: RABBI YAAKOV KLASS, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at email@example.com. RABBI GERSHON TANNENBAUM, rav of Congregation Bnai Israel of Linden Heights, Boro Park, Brooklyn, is the Director of Igud HaRabbanim – The Rabbinical Alliance of America.
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