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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Kohen’

Temple Institute Crowdfunding to Train Cadre of Qualfied Priests

Monday, August 1st, 2016

The Temple Institute will be opening the world’s first school for training Levitical Priests to serve in the Holy Temple this year in Jerusalem. The organization has run a number of pilot programs over the past few years and is now embarking on a mission to teach Kohanim all the practical skills required to serve in the coming Third Holy Temple.

To raise the seed money for the project the Temple Institute has embarked on an Indiegogo crowdfunding project with an initial goal of $75,000.

The curriculum at Nezer HaKodesh will include courses on the Temple service, theory and practice, and the role and application of modern technology in the Third Temple. Courses such as The Sacred Temple Vessels — Aspects of Engineering and Design; and The Mathematics of the Holy Temple will be taught as part of the program.

For the last thirty years, the Rabbis and scholars of the Temple Institute have studied in-depth the ancient text needed to prepare for the Third Temple, becoming the world authorities on the subject. They have published tens of volumes and recreated more than 70 sacred vessels for use in the Third Holy Temple.

Establishing a school to train Kohanim signifies a huge step towards the realization of the reestablishment of the Temple service which has been dormant for 2,000 years since the Romans destroyed the Second Holy Temple in 70 CE.

The initiative was announced during the traditional three-week period of mourning for the Holy Temple, culminating with the Fast of the 9th of Av, when both Holy Temples were destroyed. This timing comes as no coincidence, as the purpose of the Temple Institute has always been to reframe this Jewish period of mourning into one of hope and change, highlighting that all of the prophets and sages of Israel have predicted the eventual peaceful rebuilding of the Third Temple in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Chaim Richman, International Director of the Temple Institute, commented: “We are extremely excited to announce this new step towards the restoration of the Holy Temple service. We call first and foremost upon Kohanim worldwide to support this special project, which signifies a return of their birthright. We have chosen to use Indiegogo as a tool to enable as many people as possible to be a part of this historic initiative. The Temple service represents the purest connection between man and our Creator. One third of the Torah’s commandments pertain to the Holy Temple service and we have prayed for its return for thousands of years. In a time when the world is plagued with terror and uncertainty, we enter this project with full faith that one day the Holy Temple will finally be rebuilt and the priestly service reinstated, ushering in an unparalleled era of peace and harmony among all of mankind.”

David Israel

May A Kohen Visit A Tzaddik’s Grave?

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

In this week’s parshah, we learn that when a person dies he conveys tumah. There is a machlokes why that is the case.

The Ramban, in the beginning of this week’s parshah, explains that when a person dies by means of the malach hamaves (angel of death) he conveys tumah. However, if he dies by means of neshikah (a form of death performed by Hashem) he isn’t. This is why Chazal said that tzaddikim do not become tamei upon death, since presumably they die by means of neshikah.

The Avnei Neizer (Yoreh De’ah 466) adds that Rav Chayim Vital says that the malach hamaves sprinkles three bitter drops on a person when he comes to kill him – and those drops create the tumah.

The Ohr HaChayim has a different understanding of why a dead person becomes tamei. He explains that since we accepted the Torah, we possess a high level of kedushah, and the forces of tumah are constantly anticipating and eagerly awaiting a chance to cling to this kedushah. As soon as a Jew dies the forces of tumah are able to enter his body, and thus he becomes tamei. This explanation, he says, also accounts for why a non-Jew does not become tamei upon death; since in his life he didn’t possess this kedushah, the forces of tumah are not interested in entering his body.

The Ohr HaChayim explains that with this understanding we can answer the following question pertaining to the words at the beginning of Parshas Chukas, “Zos chukas haTorah”: Why does the Torah refer to the mitzvah of tumah as “the chok of the Torah”? It does so, explains the Ohr HaChayim, because tumah only rests on deceased Jews due to them having accepted the Torah.

The Zohar says that only someone who dies of natural causes was killed by the malach hamaves. People who are killed by others were not killed by the malach hamaves. Based on this, the Avnei Neizer says there is a halachic ramification to the dispute between the Ramban and the Ohr HaChayim. According to the Ramban who said tumah sets in only when the malach hamaves kills, one killed by another does not become tamei. However, according to the Ohr HaChayim even one who is killed by another does become tamei.

It is unclear if graves of tzaddikim convey tumah and consequently whether a kohen can visit them. Even according to the Ramban’s opinion – that a dead person only conveys tumah when the malach hamaves kills him – tzaddikim still may convey tumah when they die since many tzaddikim die by means of the malach hamaves and not via neshikah. And even according to the Or HaChayim’s view – that tumah sets in due to the sudden absence of kedushah – a tzaddik perhaps doesn’t convey tumah since his body actually became kadosh during his lifetime, and it remains kadosh after his death.

Tosafos (on Baba Metzia 114b) cites a Medrash Yalkut in Mishlei that relates that when Eliyahu HaNavi and Rabbi Yehoshua (a talmid of Rabbi Akiva) were burying Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Yehoshua asked Eliyahu HaNavi how he, as a kohen, could bury a dead person. Eliyahu HaNavi answered that talmidei chachamim and their talmidim do not convey tumah. Tosafos says that Eliyahu HaNavi gave this answer out of respect for Rabbi Akiva. The actual reason he was allowed to bury Rabbi Akiva was because Rabbi Akiva was murdered by the government and no one was willing to bury him; thus, he had the status of a meis mitzvah for whom a kohen is allowed to become tamei. Apparently Tosafos maintains that tzaddikim convey tumah.

Rabbi Raphael Fuchs

Young Kohanim Reenact Shavuot Offering with Eyes on Temple Mount

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

On Monday afternoon, the new group of “Pirkhei Cohanim” (young priests) participated in the Temple Institute’s annual Shavuot reenactment at a festive event on Jerusalem’s Hass Promenade overlooking the Temple Mount. The children, dressed in specially made priestly garments, enthusiastically practiced the First Fruits ritual, which is central to the Shavuot service. Afterwards, adult Cohanim from the Temple Institute’s Nezer Hakodesh School for Kohanim, demonstrated the full Shavuot service including the First Fruits and Twin Loaves offering.

It is a positive commandment to bring an offering of the first fruits of one’s field, specifically, from the seven species of the Land of Israel, and to present them to a priest in the Holy Temple, as the Torah states: “You shall bring your first fruits to the House of the Lord your God… ” (Ex. 23:19)

Photo Credit: The Temple Institute

Photo Credit: The Temple Institute

The first fruit offerings are brought in large woven baskets and the offerings are waved before the altar, extending the basket in four directions: outwards, drawing it back towards oneself, raising it and lowering it. This is done while both the pilgrim and the Kohen (Temple priest) hold the basket.

Like all offerings made in the Holy Temple, the first fruit offering is accompanied by the blasting of silver trumpets by the Levites. The pilgrim’s declaration of gratitude to God and the presenting to God of the first fruits of their labor is naturally accompanied by festive song and dance.

In addition to the first fruit offering of the seven species, another offering was brought to the Holy Temple on Shavuot from the first of the harvest: The “twin loaves,” two loaves of wheat bread baked from newly harvested wheat. This special offering, the only leaven ever brought to the Temple, was also “waved” before the presence of God and thus elevated… and these breads represented the blessing of God’s influence and blessing on man’s earthly, physical needs throughout the year. These two breads were waved on the eastern side of the altar by a Cohen, together with an offering of two sheep for the festival.

Intensive research and experimentation into the proper preparation of the twin loaves culminated in the baking of the twin loaves used for the day’s reenactment.

The event was part of the Temple Institute’s ongoing efforts to prepare for the Third Holy Temple. Having already researched all relevant halakhic information and recreated more than 60 sacred vessels for use in the Temple, the Institute is now focusing on training kohanim in rituals that have not be practiced for over 2,000 years.

Rabbi Chaim Richman, International Director of the Temple Institute commented: “The world has never been so ready for the rebuilding of the Third Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Today’s event was yet another sign of the spiritual awakening that is growing stronger every day in the Land of Israel and around the world, as more and more people, young and old, are joining the effort to rekindle the flame of the Holy Temple and make concrete steps toward the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in our day. Having recreated over 60 sacred vessels and published dozens of books on the topic, the Temple Institute is now proud to be training a new generation of kohanim in the ways of their ancestors.”

David Israel

A Job For The Kohen

Friday, May 20th, 2016

“Vayomer Hashem El Moshe, ‘Emor el haKohanim’” Vayikra 21:1


Is There a Kohen in the House?

The Torah is taken out of the Ark to be read and the Gabbai looks up and asks if there are any kohanim present. Many of us look down or shrug our shoulders; we are but “simple” Israelites. We look at the kohanim as an exclusive club to which we cannot and shall not belong. Science has studied their lineage and, though fascinating, it has served to further impress upon us how distant we are from the pure kohanic genome.

The job of today’s kohen is greatly reduced from that of his predecessors. In addition to conducting ritual, the kohanim in the times of the Temple provided social services and addressed the people’s specific needs. Tithes and gifts were granted to them as remuneration for the services they provided to the populace.

What were some of the services the kohanim provided in the times of the Temple?

Today’s doctor gives you a “Physical.” In Temple times the kohen gave you a “spiritual” checkup.
In ancient times, disease was seen as originating from an internal, spiritual imbalance. As described in Tazria and Metzora, the kohen examined and cured the person or possession exhibiting an outer symptom. A bump or lesion on the skin was seen as an outer symptom of an inner imbalance. In contrast, today’s allopathic approach is to put ointment on a rash thereby focusing on the symptom, not the cause.

If a person had an addiction to alcohol he could become a nazir, swearing off any hint of grapes, wine or alcohol. The abstemious behavior enabled the addict to detoxify his body and break his dependence. The kohen assisted the recovering addict with ritual procedures and acted as the recovering addict’s therapist by asking penetrating questions, offering suggestions, presenting a path to recovery and ensuring it was taken.

Marriage Counselor:
If a man suspected his wife of being unfaithful, his legal relief would be to take his wife to the Temple where the kohen would perform a well-known ceremony filled with powerful symbolism. During this time the kohen would discuss relationships and realistic expectations and have the couple speak to one another and air out their repressed feelings.

Life Coach:
When one committed a sin and wished to repent, he or she would come to the Temple and offer a sacrifice. In addition to performing the sacrificial act, the kohen was there to speak with, counsel and direct the repentant. The kohen offered support and encouragement from which the repentant would get energy and strength to live a holier and more wholesome life.

From where do we know that the kohanim functioned as life coaches, acted as therapists marriage counselors and doctors? Chazal in Pirkei Avot stress Aharon HaKohen’s nature as an ohev shalom v’rodef shalom, a lover of peace and seeker of peace. When we expound upon the laws and ideas behind the laws, the notion that the kohen was simply a technician who stoically stood by assuring procedure was followed seems to be one of folly. The kohanic institution had the stamp and signature of Aharon HaKohen and his sons emulated their father; as Aharon was about peace and blessing, so were his sons. The priestly institution’s modus operandi was to be ohev shalom v’rodef shalom; its raison d’être was to provide blessing for the Children of Israel. Not only did the kohanim channel G-d’s peace through blessing, they brought it about through their actions and interactions with the people.

The modern kohen does not provide the life giving services that his forbearers did. However, Aharon’s sons still retain the power to bless us with life, health and goodness. We therefore have sufficient reason to treasure and honor our modern-day kohanim.

Despite not being called up to the Torah as a kohen, there is something immensely kohanic about every Jew. We are called by G-d, “Mamlechet Kohanim, a Kingdom of Priests.” Like our kohanim, we non-priests have similar but lesser restrictions on whom we marry, where we go and what we eat.

Imagine concentric circles; the innermost circle is the kohanim and the outer, the Israelites. Emanations of blessing come from G-d and radiate out through the kohanim to the Jewish people. Where does this blessing go after it is received by the Jews? After the kohanim, leviim and yisraelim lies the outermost circle, representing the nations of the world. We Jews take our blessing and radiate it out to the world, for we Jews, a “priestly nation,” function as the world’s kohanim.

We know that only the Kohen Gadol was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies.

In the Shabbat Shachrit Amida we state that a non-Jew may not keep the Shabbat. Shabbat is in time what the Kodesh HaKodashim is in space. Only we Jews, the kohanim of the world, are allowed to enter the sacred Shabbat.

So, next time the Gabbai asks: “Are there any kohanim in the house?” we may want to raise our heads a little higher and smile. But, we also need to consider what our responsibilities are in the world since we are a “nation of priests.

Rabbi Donn Gross

Thousands of Kohanim Gather at Western Wall to Bless the People of Israel

Monday, April 25th, 2016

On the second morning on the intermediate days of Passover, tens of thousands of descendants of the Biblical Aharon, the High Priest, gathered at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem to bless the Nation of Israel.

Thousands more came to be blessed, and millions around the world viewed the events via the “Kotel Kam” that was set up to allow yearning Jewish worshipers at least virtual access to the site.

As in the days of old, so too in present times, the descendants of the Tribe of Levi gather during each of the Biblical holy days and festivals at the material remnant of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to bless the Jewish People.

The event is called ‘Birkat HaKohanim’ – the Blessing of the Priests – and it takes place several times a year.

A live feed of the events taking place throughout the day at the Western Wall may be viewed by clicking here.

This year more than 3,000 police and other security officers have been deployed in and around the area to ensure the safety of those who came to be blessed, and later on, to pray.

“Security forces and the Police and Border Guard officers around the city, including the Temple Mount (ed. note.: adjacent to the Western Wall) are there to manage with professionalism and sensitivity [the protection] that characterizes the uniqueness of the place and the need to serve the public in a fair and equal basis,” explained the police.

“We will continue to guard the status quo on the Temple Mount to benefit all and to act decisively against anyone who tries to disturb the public peace and safety.”

On the second day of Passover — in Israel, the first intermediate day — 12 Jews were ejected from visitation to the Temple Mount grounds after being accused of violating the rules at the site.

One Jewish boy was questioned by police on suspicion of having prayed within the Temple Mount compound, which is forbidden for Jews under the rules of the status quo guidelines agreed upon by Israel with the Jordanian Islamic Waqf after Israel won the 1967 Six Day War and restored the site to the rest of Jerusalem.

The Temple Mount — upon which both ancient Jewish Holy Temples were built — is the holiest site in Judaism. It is also the third holiest site in Islam. Several hundred years ago, Muslims build two mosques there to mark the sacred events in their tradition that took place on the site.

Hana Levi Julian

PA Charges Jews with Wearing ‘Priestly Garments’ on Temple Mount [video]

Friday, September 25th, 2015

The official Palestinian Authority website WAFA has accused “extremist Jewish settlers” with “wearing priestly garments” on the Temple Mount on Yom Kippur.

WAFA as well as all Arab media inside and outside Israel routinely incite Muslims into a frenzy over Jews “storming” the Temple Mount.

WAFA added that the “settlers,” a term referring to any Jew who ascends the Temple Mount, “attempted to perform Talmudic (Jewish) prayers, however their attempts were foiled by the Mosque guards.”

That statement is probably not true because Jerusalem police stay within inches of all Jews on the Temple Mount and haul them away if they even dare to whisper a prayer.

WAFA also told its faithful that Israeli police were deployed in such large numbers that it made Jerusalem a “military barrack.”

The Palestinian Authority’s official website’s reference to the “priestly garments” could have been part of its strategy of incitement against Jews or could have been plain ignorance and paranoia.

The spokesman for the Jerusalem police did not respond to The JewishPress.com’s request for a response to the accusations by WAFA, but Temple Mount activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick explained that the “priestly garments” were nothing more than the white “kittel.”

The “Kittel” is not a priestly garment. The High Priest indeed were a white robe and trousers during part of the Yom Kippur rituals on the Temple Mount.

However, the “kittel,” which symbolizes purity and is used as a burial shroud for men, is commonly worn in synagogues on Yom Kippur, the Day of Judgment, to symbolize the penalty of death by God for committing sins.

The Orthodox Union explains the ritual on Yom Kippur:

Twice during this exalted day, the Kohen Gadol [High Priest] would remove the eight priestly garments he wore during his service in the Beit HaMikdash [Holy Temple] all year long, immerse in a mikvah and don the four special white linen garments that were used only on Yom Kippur to enter the Kodesh Hakodashim [Holy of Holies].

The only connection between the Kittel and the High Priest’s white robes is that both are white.

The second verse in Chapter of Isaiah states:

Our sins shall be made as white as snow.

Below is video posted on Arab media of Jews, one of them with a ‘Kittel,” on the Temple Mount on Yom Kippur.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

WoW Miss their Chance for Equality at Kotel Priestly Blessing

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Tens of thousands of Jews prayed at the Western Wall Sunday, the fourth day of Sukkot, and received the traditional priestly blessing of dozens of Kohenim, but no Women of the Wall tried to join.

Kohenim are of the priestly tribe traced to the Biblical High Priest Aaron.

The Women of the Wall have campaigned vigorously the past year to pressure for the same religious standing of men to read from a Torah scroll and wear tefillin at the Western Wall. They have succeeded in winning the right to pray as they wish at the southern section of the Western Wall, known as Robinson’s Arch and not adjacent to the more widely-known section of the Wall.

So why didn’t they try to prove again that “equal” mean the “same” and presume they are Kohenim. Don’t Reform Jews deserve their blessing?

The Reform movement generally maintains a policy of “equality” and rejects the distinctions between Kohenim and other Israeli tribes, but some Reform and Conservative prayer groups allow the daughter of a Kohen to perform the Priestly Blessing.

The same prayer groups also call a daughter of a Kohen to the reading of the Torah, in place of the traditional recognition of a Kohen for the Torah portion that is chanted in Israel on the Sabbath, holidays, Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of the month and on Mondays and Thursdays.

The Kohenim were active in sacrifices in the Holy Temples, and Reform and Conservative thought concludes that since the Temples have been destroyed and there are no sacrifices today, the designation of a Kohen is either out of date or is not restricted to men. The Conservative movement is split with two opposing opinions on whether a daughter of a Kohen can perform the Priestly Blessing.

Most Reform and Conservative congregations omit the Priestly Blessing, which in Orthodox congregations in the Diaspora are performed only on the three festivals of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot. The blessing is recited toward the end of the additional Musaf prayers. Reform Jews usually don’t bother themselves with praying too much, and they delete Musaf.

Reform Rabbi Jeffrey W. Goldwasser posted on a website “More liberal communities, those that insist on thorough gender equality, do not observe the distinction of Kohanim and Levi’im at all.”

Reform Jews, with their 11th Commandment of equality, declare that all Jews are equal in their functions as Jews. All of us are the same. Everyone is a priest, everyone can wear tefillin, everyone can read from the Torah, and everyone can do pretty much as he or she pleases.

That begs one question: If all are equal, if Jewish law rejects the Torah as the living law of today, and if every Jew can understand the Torah as he wants, why is there such a thing as a Reform “rabbi”?

So much for equality.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/wow-miss-their-chance-for-equality-at-kotel-priestly-blessing/2013/09/22/

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