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June 25, 2016 / 19 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Kohen’

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?

Doctor:
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.

Therapist:
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

‘Plastic Bag’ Airplane Passenger a Kohen Staying Pure?

Friday, April 12th, 2013

An Orthodox Jewish man, wrapped in a plastic bag in his airline seat, apparently did so because he was probably a Kohen who went to extreme lengths to make sure he would not be ritually impure if the plane flew over a Jewish cemetery.

Kohenim are prohibited from coming into contact with dead bodies, and many rabbis have taken the strict opinion that a Kohen may not ride in a plane if he knows ahead of time that it will fly directly over a Jewish cemetery. Many have ruled that if does not know of the flight plan, he may ride in the airplane.

El Al once agreed to change a fight trajectory to avoid flying over a cemetery.

The man wrapped in plastic, whose photograph first appeared on the Redditor site and later on the Gothamist site, apparently did not want to take any chances. By covering himself in plastic, he established a separation between him and impurities.

However, since he arrived at his destination safe and sound, it can be assumed there was a hole in the plastic bag so he could breathe.

Some readers of Redditor suggested that “plastic man” was making sure he would not come into contact with the woman sitting behind him, but that is doubtful since it is unlikely he carried a plastic covering “just in case.”

Or maybe he simply wanted some attention.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/plastic-bag-airplane-passenger-a-kohen-staying-pure/2013/04/12/

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