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)
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