• Eddie Rogers, Minister

Yom Kippur - Day of Atonement

The following comes from the Temple Institute in Israel. They have developed this Yom Kippur Ceremony based on their own writings. In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), it provides some things that are to be done for Yom Kippur but all the fine details are not there. This is where Rabbinic Judaism has come in to fill in the gaps based on their own writings outside the Written Scriptures.

What is being presented below is meant to help educate all who have an interest in learning some things about one of YHWH's Appointed Times. This is not a Jewish Feast as some claim and it never was nor will it ever be a Jewish Feast. What is presented below is strictly for educational purposes only. All illustrations below belong to the Temple Institute except for those so noted as not belonging to the Temple Institute.

Yom Kippur

In The Holy Temple


Part 1

All the holy activities that took place in the Holy Temple all year round were but a lead-in to the ultimate climax: the Yom Kippur service.

The service of this holy day was the only one in the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) that was fully and sequentially carried out by one specific individual: the Kohen Gadol (High Priest).

On this day, and only on this day, the Kohen Gadol wore both his golden garments and his white garments, and performed the entire Yom Kippur service, on behalf of the entire nation. The service was intensely detailed and had to be performed with precision.

The Gemara (Berakhot 7a) vividly describes the climactic and solemn Yom Kippur entry of the Kohen Gadol into the Holy of Holies – the one time each year that anyone may do so. Reading the account, one gets the sense that the Kohen Gadol is actually entering the Sanctuary on High, and is standing before the very Divine Throne of Glory. The Gemara states, in the name of the High Priest and great Torah giant, Rabbi Yishmael ben Elisha: “I once entered the Holy of Holies to bring the incense, and I saw there Akatriel Ya, the Lord of Hosts, seated upon a high and exalted throne, and He said to me, ‘Yishmael, My son, bless Me!’ I replied, ‘May it be Your will that Your mercy overcomes Your anger and Your mercy may prevail over Your attributes, so that You may deal with Your children according to the attribute of mercy and stop short of the limit of strict justice!’ And He nodded to me.”

Another dramatic description of the entry into the Holy of Holies is provided in Tractate Yoma (39b): “During the year in which Shimon the Righteous died, he predicted his death. They asked how he knew, and he said: ‘On every Day of Atonement, an old man, dressed in white and wrapped in white, would join me as I entered and left [the Holy of Holies]. But today, I was joined by an old man who was dressed in black and wrapped in black; he entered with me, but did not leave with me.’ After Sukkot, he was sick for seven days, and then he died.” It appears that the man who accompanied the High Priest was none other than the Patriarch Avraham (Bava Kamma 50a). Escorting and helping the Kohen Gadol in his mission to arouse Divine compassion and atonement for Israel was a special mission assigned to none other than the Father of the Nation, Avraham.

As he performs the uniquely sacred Yom Kippur service, the Kohen Gadol is simply an emissary for the entire nation. The Talmud (Yoma 18b) states: “The elders of the Beit Din [who accompanied the High Priest on Yom Kippur] gave him over to the Elders of the Priests, who brought him to the Chamber of Beit Avtinas, and told him: ‘Sir, Kohen Gadol, we are agents of the Beit Din and you are our agent and the agent of the Court. We adjure you by He that had His name dwell in this house not to change anything of what we have told you.’” Perhaps this is why the image/soul of the Patriarch Avraham escorts the Kohen Gadol into the Holy of Holies – to support him that he not fail in this tremendous mission that has been placed upon him on this very holy day.

Although the precise actions of the Kohen Gadol in the Holy of Holies are performed far from any human eye, they are not at all secret. Not only the other priests, but all of Israel who gather in the Azara (courtyard) at dawn of Yom Kippur follow every move the Kohen Gadol makes. In addition, the passages describing his actions are studied in detail in all Yeshivot, and have been recited aloud by generations of Jews throughout our centuries of Exile. Even little children learn the Seder HaAvoda, the order of the Yom Kippur service, and know its details, just as did the Kohen Gadol.

Throughout the service, the Kohen Gadol would purify himself and immerse in a ritual bath no fewer than five times, and would wash his hands and feet ten times from a golden basin. He would walk back and forth in the Azara and Sanctuary forty-two times in order to fulfill all the mitzvot of the day, which were performed in various locations: The mikveh, the Azara, atop the altar, in the Sanctuary, and in the Holy of Holies – up until the point that he would “safely leave the Holy.”

Preparations for the Day of Atonement

The High Priest Bears Full Responsibility for the Service

As opposed to other ceremonies throughout the year, all of the sacred tasks performed on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement - tasks which bring about atonement for Israel - must be done exclusively by the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) himself. As the Torah states a number of times in the book of Leviticus, chapter 16: "and he shall make atonement for himself and for his household;" "until he comes out, and have made atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel," etc. He alone is responsible for every aspect of the Divine service on this most holy and awesome day: a total of fifteen separate offerings which are made, as well as the menorah, incense, and other services.

Intense Practice, Review and Study

Throughout that week, the Kohen Gadol diligently studies the laws relating to the tasks which he must undertake on the upcoming sacred day, and he also conducts certain aspects of the daily service himself (even though it is not his exclusive duty) in order to familiarize himself with these actions. For example, during these days he himself tosses the blood of the daily sacrifice onto the altar in the morning and evenings; he offers up the incense on the golden incense altar; he attends to the service of the menorah (cleaning the used oil and wicks, adjusting new wicks and adding the proper measure of oil to each flame).

This is a period of intense preparation and review. Each day, the elders of the Sanhedrin (the supreme rabbinical court) read aloud before him from the biblical portion that relates to the service (Lev. 16).

Separation Seven Days in Advance

There is much to be done in order to prepare the Kohen Gadol for this momentous and fateful day. Just as the first Kohen Gadol, Aharon, separated himself away from others during the seven days of inauguration ("And do not leave the entrance of the Tent of Meeting for seven days, until your period of inauguration is complete" - Lev. 8:33), so too the High Priest leaves his own home and family a full week before the advent of Yom Kippur, and withdraws to his chamber in the Holy Temple.

Meanwhile, at the same time another priest is designated as the Kohen Gadol's replacement, in the event that he inadvertently becomes defiled and cannot purify himself in time to conduct the service. An extra Kohen Gadol's uniform (the "golden garments") was prepared according for this substitute as well, according to his size and measurements.

"Read Aloud Yourself"

The elders would declare: "Master! Kohen Gadol! Please read aloud likewise yourself; perhaps there is something you have forgotten, or some detail you have not learned." This is because one who reads aloud himself is less prone to forget than someone who has merely heard the words from another's lips, and the purpose of this entire process was for the Kohen Gadol to be absolutely familiar with these details.

Additionally, the exhortation to "read aloud yourself" was necessary during part of the Second Temple era. For whereas the Kohen Gadols of the First Temple were chosen for their wisdom and good standing, this was not always the case during the days of the Second Temple. Many Kohen Gadols of that period were corrupt individuals who bought their positions through wealth and influence with the foreign government; some of these men were far from being proper scholars. Thus the elders had grounds to suspect that they were less than adequately familiar with the holy texts and principles of worship.

The Climax Draws Near

Yom Kippur is approaching, and tension mounts as all of Israel anticipates the arrival of the great day when atonement is granted for sin and the true nature of man's relationship with his Creator is revealed.

All eyes are turned to the Kohen Gadol, who, on that holiest day of the year, will enter into the holiest place on earth - the Holy of Holies - to make atonement for Israel and seek to rectify the imbalances in her spiritual connection to her Father in heaven.

On the morning preceding the Day of Atonement, the Kohen Gadol stands in the Eastern Gate. There, cows, rams and sheep are marched before him, and he watches them intently while reviewing in his mind all of the precepts he has learned regarding the order of their offering, and other facets of the service he will be conducting tomorrow.

The Elders of the Priesthood

Until today, the Kohen Gadol had been under the supervision of the court elders, who daily read aloud in his presence. Now, on the eve of the holy day, these sages present him to the elders of the priesthood, in order for him to receive instruction in the incense service - a most difficult task. He will need to learn from the benefit of their experience, in order to execute this important duty properly. He is escorted by the elders of the Sanhedrin to the Chamber of Avtinas, where the incense is prepared by the priestly Avtinas family (according to their secret tradition). It is here that he will receive his instruction in the incense service from the senior kohanim.

An Oath Before Parting

Before the members of the Sanhedrin relinquish the Kohen Gadol from their custody, a most poignant exchange takes place between them and their charge: they require that he swear he is not a member of the sect of Sadducees, and does not subscribe to Sadducean belief.

Part 2

The Immersion of the Kohen Gadol

On the morning of Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol ascends the stairway above the Water Gate, in order to perform his first of five required immersions into the ritual bath on Yom Kippur.

The Immersion of the Kohen Gadol (Continued)

The remaining four immersions that take place during the day are done in a ritual bath atop the Parva Chamber. A white lined sheet is held up separating the Kohen Gadol from the onlookers. This is done as a reminder to all onlookers that the Kohen Gadol will administer the Atonement service wearing white garments only.

The Kohen Gadol Sanctifies His Hands and Feet

Before entering the ritual bath, the Kohen Gadol first sanctifies his hands and feet, pouring water on them from a golden vessel. Upon emerging from the ritual bath, he would again sanctify his hands and feet in the same manner.

Sanctifying the Hands and Feet

On all other days of the year, the Kohen Gadol would sanctify his hands and feet using a copper vessel. Only on Yom Kippur would he use a gold vessel for this purpose.

The Daily Incense Offering

On Yom Kippur The Kohen Gadol would make three separate offerings of incense. The first two offerings were done upon the golden incense altar located in the Kodesh, (the Sanctuary). Facing north, the High Priest pours the incense onto the altar, as the column of smoke rises.

The Courtyard Fills with People

At dawn the gates are opened, and the people begin to pour in.

The Yom Kippur Offerings

"You shall present a burnt offering for an appeasing fragrance to G-d: one young bull, one ram, and seven yearling sheep, making sure that all are devoid of blemish... There shall also be one goat for a sin offering..." (Numbers 29:11)

Part 3

The Yom Kippur Service

"And G-d spoke to Moshe after the death of Aharon's two sons, who brought an (unauthorized) offering before HaShem and died. And G-d said to Moshe: Speak to your brother Aharon, and let him not enter the holy place that is beyond the partition concealing the ark at any time, so that he may not die, since I appear over the ark cover in a cloud."

"Only thusly shall Aharon enter into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the sanctified white linen tunic, and have linen pants on his flesh. He shall gird himself with a linen sash, and bind his head with a linen turban. These are sacred vestments; before putting them on, he must immerse himself. And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering. And Aharon shall offer the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself, and he shall make atonement for himself and for his family... " (Leviticus 16)

The Kohen Gadols' Oral Confession

The Kohen Gadol drew near to the animal. Facing the sanctuary, he placed his two hands on the bullock's head, between its horns, and confessed. This was in keeping the directives of the verse (ibid.): "And Aharon shall offer the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself, and he shall make atonement for himself and for his family... " The sages of Israel received a tradition that these words refer to oral confession.

And this was the wording of the Kohen Gadol's confession:

"I beseech You, HaShem; I have sinned, rebelled, and transgressed against You, I, and my household; I beseech You, HaShem, Grant atonement for the sins, and for the iniquities and transgressions which I have committed against You, I, and my household. As it is written in the Torah of Your servant, Moshe: 'For on this day atonement shall be made for you, to purify you from all your sins - before HaShem you shall be purified'."

The Ineffable Name of G-d

During these prayers on this awesome day, the Kohen Gadol would utter the Ineffable Name of G-d known as the Tetragrammaton. In Hebrew, this is known as G-d's "proper name" (Shem HaMeforash) and denotes the Holy One as the ultimate source of all existence. This most holy name is ordinarily not pronounced as it is written, and is not used at all outside of the Holy Temple. Even in the Temple it is used infrequently. During the course of the services on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest will have occasion to utter it 10 times.

The People's Response

In this confession, the Kohen Gadol pronounces this name 3 times. When the congregation who are assembled in the court hear the holy name of G-d from the lips of the Kohen Gadol, they collectively respond "Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom, for ever and ever," and prostrate themselves on the ground.

This response is based on the verse in Moshe' song, (Deut. 32:3), "When I call upon the name of HaShem, give greatness to our G-d." The sages explain this to mean that Moshe told Israel, "Whenever I mention the Holy One's name, you should ascribe greatness to our G-d."

The Scapegoat

Though all of the moving service on the Day of Atonement is fraught with poignancy, tense anticipation and deep personal stirrings of repentance, surely one of the most dramatic moments of the day is the lottery which the Kohen Gadol conducts... for this is the process that will determine the scapegoat, which will be cast off as an atonement for Israel's sins.

After confessing over his bullock, the Kohen Gadol walks to the eastern section of the court, facing the entrance. He is accompanied by two men: at his right, the "assistant," who is actually none other than the replacement kohen who was designated as a stand-in for the Kohen Gadol, should he be rendered unfit. At his left, the head of the family clan who is responsible for the service in the Temple on that day of the week.

The Two Goats and the Lottery Box

There in the eastern sector of the court, to the north of the altar, stand two goats in preparation for the lottery:

"And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering... and he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the Tent of Meeting. And Aharon shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for HaShem, and the other lot for Azazel... " (Lev. 16)

A wooden lottery box was kept there as well, and within it were the two lots, in accordance with the verses above. This box was just large enough to hold the two lots, and for the priest to put both his hands inside. On one lot the two Hebrew words meaning "For HaShem" were written, and the other was inscribed with single word "For Azazel."

Azazel is actually the name of a place; it was to this location that the scapegoat was sent. Azazel was a high, rocky precipice in the Judean desert. The goat was sent off this point to its death.

These lots were originally made of wood. This was probably what we know today as boxwood; some have written that a wood resembling mahogany was used. Later, the lots were prepared from gold by the Kohen Gadol, Yehoshua ben Gamliel, during his term of office. He was praised by the sages for this initiative, which was done to increase the honor of the holy day.

Drawing the Lots

Flanked by the two men on either side of him, the Kohen Gadol thrusts his hands into the lottery box and stirs the two lots within, in order to ascertain that he has no notion of which is inscribed "For HaShem." It was considered an auspicious sign from Heaven if that lot were to drawn by his right hand; thus he mixes the lots about so that he will not recognize them, and thereby raise that lot in his right hand. Tradition does in fact record that for a period of many years, it actually transpired that the Kohen Gadol's right hand did arbitrarily come up holding the lot marked "For HaShem." This phenomena ceased a number of years before the Temple's destruction.

Other opinions maintain that he drew the lots very quickly from their box, demonstrating that he acts without forethought or hesitation as to which lot he is raising.

In this manner, the Kohen Gadol raised up the two lots from the box, one in his right hand and one in his left. Only once he held them up did he learn which hand held each lot:

"Raise Up Your Right Hand!"

If his right hand held the lot of "For HaShem," the assistant would declare "Master! Kohen Gadol! Raise up your right hand!" And hearing this cry, all those assembled would receive the tiding, and know that this favorable sign has indeed transpired.

But if his left hand was seen to contain this lot, the head of the family clan cried out "Master! HKohen Gadol! Raise up your left hand!" And thus the deed would be known.

Part 4

The Fateful Lottery

Great anticipation and feelings of repentance mark the entire Yom Kippur service. One of the most dramatic moments is the lottery selecting the scapegoat which acts as an atonement for Israel's sins. This Kohen Gadol is seen above, flanked by the Deputy Kohen Gadol on his right, and the head of the family on duty, on his left.

Placing the Lots

The Kohen Gadol then places these lots upon the heads of the goats, between their horns: that which he raised up in his right hand is placed upon the animal to his right, and of the left, to his left. When placing the lot of "For HaShem" upon the sacrifice, he recites aloud the words "For HaShem, a sin offering," once again pronouncing the holy Ineffable Name of G-d. All the kohanim and Israelites present who hear this name repeat the verse "Blessed is the name... ," as above.

A "Tongue of Crimson Wool"

After placing the lots upon the goats, the Kohen Gadol ties a length of crimson-dyed wool between the horns of the scapegoat, and stands the goat facing the Temple's eastern gate, through which it will be led off. He also ties a similar length of wool around the neck of the goat which will be sacrificed. This elongated skein of wool is called a "tongue" in the language of the Mishna, on account of its shape. They were tied around the goats in order to prevent them from being mixed up with other animals, and each was tied in a distinctive manner so that they should not be confused with each other.

The Miracle of the Crimson Wool

These lengths of wool were specifically dyed crimson on account of the verse which reads, "Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall whiten as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be white as wool" (Isaiah 1:18). It is related that a great miracle occurred concerning this crimson-colored wool: For in addition to the piece which was tied to the scapegoat, a similar length was tied to the entrance of the Sanctuary where all could behold it, high up like a banner. The sage Rabbi Yishmael taught (Yoma 6, 8) that when the scapegoat reached its destination in the desert, this wool miraculously turned white before the eyes of all Israel, in keeping with the words of the prophet - and thus providing a Heavenly sign that the sins of the people had been atoned for.

The two goats thus prepared, the High Priest will now leave them be and proceed with other aspects of this singular day's ceremonies. He will return to the offering and the Azazel only later, after the services of the bullock and the incense are completed. All the various components and aspects of the Yom Kippur service must be done according to a specific order.

The Second Oral Confession

Now the Kohen Gadol once again draws near to his own offering, the bullock. At this time he will again confess over the animal; the first time he did this, his confession was on behalf of himself and his family. This time he confesses on behalf of all his fellow kohanim. Once again he places his hands on the animal's head, between its horns, and pronouncing the Ineffable Name he recites his plea:

"I beseech You, HaShem; I have sinned, rebelled, and transgressed against You, I and my household, And the sons of Aharon, Your holy people; I beseech You, HaShem, Grant atonement for the sins, and for the iniquities and transgressions which I have committed against You, I and my household, And the sons of Aharon Your holy people. As it is written in the Torah of Your servant, Moshe: 'For on this day atonement shall be made for you, to purify you from all your sins - before HaShem you shall be purified.'"

"Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom, for ever and ever."

As above, the congregation responds with the words "Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom, for ever and ever."

The Talmud explains that first the Kohen Gadol atones for his own sins and those of his family, and only afterwards does he make atonement for his colleagues... for it is better for an innocent man to make rectification for those who are liable.

The Bullock is Slaughtered

At the conclusion of his second confession, the Kohen Gadol slaughters the bullock. He receives the offering's blood in the mizrak vessel, and then gives this vessel to another kohen. The former immediately goes to prepare for the incense service, and the latter must stand outside the entrance to the Sanctuary and hold this vessel, continuously moving it with a stirring motion. This in done in order to prevent its contents from beginning to coagulate - since this would invalidate it to be dashed upon the altar.

The second kohen, thus occupied with the mizrak, waits in this spot for the return of the Kohen Gadolt, who will bring the mizrak into the Sanctuary. In the meantime, the Kohen Gadol ascends to the top of the altar in the court, carrying a golden shovel equipped with a specially long handle - designed to aid him in performing the particularly difficult movements he will require to conduct the incense service alone on this holy day.

Part 5

Coals for the Incense

Atop the altar, the Kohen Gadol uses the shovel to stir the fire, and he gathers some of the burning coals from the midst of the fire into this vessel. When he descends the ramp, he will return to where the priest waits with the mizrak, and he will place the shovel and its coals on the floor, next to where his colleague stands.

The Kohen Gadol's Steps Bear Witness to the Greatness of the Day

Every aspect of the Divine service on this awesome day reflected the special status and sanctity which is inseparable from the very nature of the day itself; a day of sublime communion with the Creator; a day of resolve and repentance; a day of both great inner peace and national unity.

Thus every movement made during the service and literally every step taken by the Kohen Gadol was imbued with great significance and meaning. Even his very steps along the altar ramp marked the special character of the moment and rang out the words "This is the Day of Atonement!" For all year long, the kohanim would go to and fro the altar by walking along the periphery of the ramp; ascending along the eastern side and descending on the west. Their strong sense of reverence and awe for the Holy One had a humbling effect on their number, and they would have considered it a brazen act to walk right up the center of the ramp.

Yet today, on Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol (accompanied by the assistant, on his right side) walks right along the middle of the ramp. The symbolism of this action is clear: Today, let all take note of Israel's honor, and her fondness in the Holy One's eyes. So much does He cherish Israel, that today - on this day when all her sins are forgiven - Israel can behave like a child in her father's house, openly declaring their love and affection.

The Incense Service

"He shall take a shovelful of burning coals from the altar that is before HaShem, and a double handful of finely ground incense, and he will bring them (into the inner sanctuary) beyond the curtain." (Lev. 16:12).

A "Double Handful"

After having placed the shovelful of burning coals on the floor near the Sanctuary, other kohanim now bring their senior the two other items he will use to conduct the incense service:

a large golden spoon (empty) which was brought from the Chamber of Vessels, and a golden shovel, filled with finely ground incense, brought from the Chamber of the Avtinas Family where the incense is prepared.

From the verse above, the sages deduced that the Kohen Gadol must remove the incense from the shovel directly into his two palms, without the aid of a vessel; this is the Torah's requirement - "a double handful of finely ground incense." Thus, there was no set measurement of how much incense was to be brought. It was literally the amount which fitted into each Kohen Gadol's palms; the amount therefore differed for each man depending on the size of his hands.

Entering into the Sanctuary

He then places the incense in his hands into the golden spoon and holds it with his left hand. In his right hand, he picks up the shovelful of burning coals from the floor before him. In this manner, carrying the spoonful of incense and the shovel of coals, he enters into the Sanctuary until he comes to the two curtains which separate between the Holy (the Sanctuary, which housed the menorah, table and incense altar) and the Holy of Holies.

In the First Temple, a wall the thickness of one amah (app. 48 or 60 centimeters) separated between these two areas. However, in the Second Temple the two curtains once again formed this distinction, as in the days of the Tabernacle. The two curtains themselves were separated by an empty space measuring one amah wide, like that wall which stood in Solomon's Temple.

Between the Curtains

One end of each of these two curtains was folded over on the outside and pinned up by a golden clasp; the outer curtain was pinned on the southern side, and the inner, on the northern side. Thus an aisle was formed which provided an open passageway between the two curtains. Carrying the implements, the Kohen Gadol walked between the curtains until he reached the northern side of the inner curtain - the spot where it was held up.

In the Holy of Holies

Here the Kohen Gadol stood at the opening of the Holy of Holies. He now turns and faces the south with his left side along the length of the curtain, so that he may walk to the center of the room to stand in the place known as "between the poles" - between the two poles of the Ark of the Testimony.

Placing the Coals Down: First Temple

When the Tabernacle and First Temple stood, the Kohen Gadol faced the holy Ark of the Testimony and placed the shovel of coals down, directly between the two poles of the ark.

[My Note: In the above illustration, you will notice that the two staves are touching the Linen Curtain that separates the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. This is correct. This was done to show the priests who served in the Holy Place that the Ark of The Covenant was in the Holy of Holies.

With the staves being on the short side of the Ark, the High Priest has to step over the staves in order to face the Mercy Seat. Please note, based on the above illustration the Temple Institute has that the High Priest has his back facing East. If he sprinkles the blood in the above illustration on his right side on the Mercy Seat, he will be applying the blood to the North side of the Mercy Seat and not to the East side.

And he [the High Priest] shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the lid of atonement [the Mercy Seat] on the east side, also in front of the lid of atonement he sprinkles some of the blood with his finger seven times.

(Leviticus 16:14, The Scriptures Translation, emphasis added)

(This illustration does not belong to the Temple Institute.)

This is what the Ark of The Covenant looks like. You will notice that the staves are running parallel to the lone side of the Ark and not the short side. Below is an illustration of how the Wilderness Tabernacle is arranged along with the furnishings. All of the furnishings used in the Wilderness Tabernacle are also used in the Temple.

(This illustration does not belong to the Temple Institute.)

You will notice in the above illustration that the High Priest does not have to step over the staves. This prevents any miss-steps by the High Priest while he is in the Holy of Holies performing the Atoning services for himself and for the children of Israel. You will notice that the staves are running parallel to the long edge of the Ark of The Covenant and that the staves are against the Linen Curtain like they are supposed to be.

When the High Priest comes into the Holy of Holies, he will stand in front of the Mercy Seat as you can see from the above illustration. With the High Priest positioned in front of the Ark of The Covenant, when he sprinkles the blood on the Ark, it is sprinkled on the East side of the Mercy Seat which is close to the Linen Curtain according to Leviticus 16:14 noted above.]

Part 6

Placing the Coals Down: Second Temple

But in the face of the ark's absence in the Second Temple era, he would place the shovel down on the foundation stone itself, in the place where the poles would be extending had the ark been there.

The Most Difficult Task of All

Once the Kohen Gadol put down the shovel, he must then return the fine incense powder from the spoon and back into his palms - for when he places the incense on the coals, it must be directly from his palms, the "double handful." This was the most difficult task ever done by one person in the Holy Temple; it required great expertise. It would appear to be a nearly impossible feat for someone who had not practiced and been totally prepared. It was done in the following manner: The Kohen Gadol takes the spoon full of incense and slowly pulls it with his two thumbs against his arms and body, with the handle resting against him (some maintain that he actually held the top of the handle in his teeth). He balances the body of the spoon itself until it is level with his hands. Then he gently leans the spoon into his palms, turning and rocking it back and forth so that the contents are emptied into his palms.

Not Even One Grain May Fall

As we have described it, this process is difficult enough to accomplish. But what makes the exercise even more formidable - enough to merit the appellation of "the most difficult task of all" - is the requirement that the Kohen Gadol must not allow even one tiny grain to fall. The entire contents within the spoon must be completely transferred to his hands, to the very last drop. For if even a negligible measure is missing, then the amount he will be placing on the coals is no longer a double handful, for something fell from his hands. Thus he would not be fulfilling G-d's requirement.

Placing the Incense on the Coals

From his palms the Kohen Gadol places the incense onto the coals in the shovel, on the side of the shovel away from where he is standing, so that he will not be burned as the flames ignite. He stands there and waits momentarily, until the entire chamber is filled with smoke.

The Yom Kippur incense offering completed, he then exits the Holy of Holies with extreme reverence - backwards, entering through the two curtains back into the Sanctuary without once having turned his back on the holy place.

The Kohen Gadol's "Short" Prayer

Standing alone in the Sanctuary, the Kohen Gadol has successfully entered and exited the holiest place on earth - the center of creation and of G-d's glory. He has made atonement for his people in the manner which G-d has prescribed for this holy day. Thus it would be most natural for him to reflect upon this rarefied moment of Divine communion by offering his own heartfelt prayer.

Yet this prayer, recorded by the Talmud, is remarkably short and concise:

"May it be Your will, HaShem our G-d, that if this coming year be hot, that it also be rainy; and may the scepter not depart from the house of Judah (see Gen. 49:10); and may Your people Israel not be dependent on each other for their livelihood; and do not pay heed to the prayers of wayfarers (who pray that it should not rain, so that they will not be inconvenienced in their journey)."

A Time for Brevity

There was good reason for the Kohen Gadol's decision not to elongate his prayer at this particular time: many a Kohen Gadol was struck down dead while in the Holy of Holies. Although the First Temple stood for 410 years, in all there were only 12 Kohen Gadols during that entire period; because they were very righteous, they were blessed with longevity. However the Second Temple, which stood for a total of 420 years, was presided over by more than 300 Kohen Gadols. This is because in the spiritual decline of those days, many of these men were corrupted, and bought their office through influence.

Additionally, if he would change any detail of the incense service within the Holy of Holies (as we mentioned with regard to the Sadducees), he would also die.

With this is mind, it is understandable that the eyes of all Israel awaited the exit of the Kohen Gadol with bated breath. Being aware of his people's agitation, the Kohen Gadol's first concern was that he should not cause them any unnecessary anxiety... and the longer he stayed within, the more Israel's apprehension grew. Thus the Kohen Gadol saw fit to forego the opportunity to engage in a long personal prayer, and recited the shorter version so as to exit the Sanctuary with reasonable speed.

Exiting - and Reentering

In the next stage of the Yom Kippur service, after the Kohen Gadol concluded the incense service, uttered his prayer and exits the Sanctuary, he returns to the kohen who is waiting for him outside the entrance. This kohen has been waiting here since the bullock was slaughtered, holding the mizrak and moving it about so that its contents will not harden.

The Kohen Gadol now receives this vessel from his colleague and returns back into the Holy of Holies a second time, exactly as he did previously. Walking through the two curtains and carrying the vessel holding the blood of his offering, he comes back to spot "between the poles" where he placed the incense on the coals atop the foundation stone.

Sprinkling the Blood of the Bullock

There, he sprinkles in the air with his finger from the contents of the mizrak, towards the spot of the ark-cover. This is as specified by the verse (Lev. 16:14), "He shall take some of the bullock's blood, and with his forefinger he shall sprinkle it above the east side of the ark cover. He shall then sprinkle with his forefinger seven times directly towards the ark cover."

Afterwards he leaves the Holy of Holies (in the same manner we have discussed above), and places the vessel on a golden stand within the Sanctuary.

[My Note: Again, you will notice in the above illustration that the High Priest has to step over the staves in order to face the Mercy Seat.]

Part 7

Sprinkling the Blood of the Bullock (continued)

The verse refers to small drops flung from the tip of the finger. As in the incense service, when the ark was not present the Kohen Gadol sprinkled in the direction of the place of the ark. He sprinkles with an upwards motion once...

Sprinkling the Blood of the Bullock (continued)

... followed by seven times down.

Afterwards he leaves the Holy of Holies (in the same manner we have discussed above), and places the vessel on a golden stand within the Sanctuary.

Slaughtering the Goat Designated "For HaShem"

Entering the Holy of Holies Again

Outside in the court, the goat which had been designated as "For HaShem" by the lottery is now brought to the Kohen Gadol. He slaughters the animal and gathers its blood into another mizrak vessel.

He then enters into the Holy of Holies for the third time, this time carrying the vessel with the blood of the goat. He enters into the chamber exactly as he did the previous times, and again walks to the same precise spot. Here, "between the poles," he sprinkles from the blood as before and then exits, placing this vessel on a second golden stand pre-positioned within the Sanctuary.

Sprinkling Against the Curtain

Now the Kohen Gadol does not leave the Sanctuary, but takes up the first mizrak, containing the blood of the bullock, from the first stand where he had originally placed it. Facing the curtains that separate between the Holy (where he now stands) and the Holy of Holies, he stands opposite that same spot that he has entered unto three times - "between the poles" of the ark.

This time, he dashes from the blood of the bullock outside the curtain but towards the same spot, in the same manner we have described. Next, he places this mizrak down on its stand, once again takes up the second vessel containing the blood of the sacrificial goat, and repeats his action against the curtain.

Mixing the Two Together

Finally, while still in the Sanctuary, the Kohen Gadol mixes the contents of both vessels together. He pours the mizrak containing the bullock's blood into that of the goat, and then pours from this full vessel back into the empty one (of the bullock) so that they will blend completely together. All this is on account of the verse (Lev. 16:18) "He shall then go out to the altar that is before G-d and make atonement on it. He shall take some of the bullock's blood and some of the goat's blood, and place the mixture on the horns of the altar all around." We shall now look at the portion of the service, referred to by this verse.

"The Altar That is Before G-d"

The Kohen Gadol has completed the sprinkling inside the Holy of Holies and within the Sanctuary. The Torah instructs us that he is now to sprinkle on the corners of "the altar that is before G-d" from the mixture of both vessels. This expression refers only to the golden incense altar within the Sanctuary, because of its proximity to the holy place - the outer altar that stands in the court is never referred to as being "before G-d." As to the Torah's instructions that he is now to "go out," this indicates that he is to go out from the place where he had been standing by the curtain, and serve on the outer side of the altar.

The Kohen Gadol walks around the incense altar and sprinkles on each of its four corners. Afterwards, he clears away some of the coals on top and exposes some of the gold surface of the altar. On this area, the "floor" of the small incense altar, he sprinkles an additional seven times, as per the verse (ibid. 19): "He shall sprinkle the blood on it seven times with his forefinger." Whatever was left in the mizrak when he concluded, he poured out onto the western side of the outer altar's foundation, in keeping with the instructions (ibid. 4:7): "He shall then spill out all the rest of the bull's blood at the base of the altar, which is in front of the entrance to the Tent of Meeting."

Dispatching the Scapegoat

Confessing For All of Israel

The Kohen Gadol now returns to the place where the scapegoat is waiting, opposite the gate through which it will be led off into the desert - the Eastern Gate.

Placing his two hands on the animal's head between its horns, the Kohen Gadol now offers his confession for the entire nation of Israel, as Scripture states (ibid. 20-21): "And when he has made an end of atoning for the holy place, and the Tent of Meeting, and the altar, he shall present the live goat. And Aharon shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the Children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat... "

Part 8

The Confession

"I beseech You, HaShem; Grant atonement for the sins, and for the iniquities and transgressions which the entire house of Israel has committed against You, As it is written in the Torah of Your servant, Moshe: 'For on this day atonement shall be made for you, to purify you from all your sins - before HaShem you shall be purified'."

As above, the congregation responds with the words "Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom, for ever and ever."

Across the Bridge

After confessing for Israel, the Kohen Gadol gives the scapegoat into hands of the individual who had been designated to lead it into the desert. This, too, was considered a great privilege. Even though it is not an intrinsic part of the service and therefore could even be done by an Israelite, it was customarily safeguarded within the priestly ranks.

"Take Our Sins and Go!"

A special bridge led directly from the Temple court to the outskirts of the city. This bridge connected the Temple Mount complex with the Mount of Anointment, and the scapegoat was led over this bridge and out into the desert. On the way, groups of people called "Babylonians" (but actually identified as Alexandrians) attempted to get at the scapegoat. The Mishna (Yoma 6, 4) describes that they were an annoyance: "They pulled at the goat's hair and cried 'take our sins and be off with you! Take our sins and go!'" They were eager to urge the kohen who led the scapegoat, that he should not tarry or hesitate in the least.

Ten Booths

All along the way between Jerusalem and the cliff - the scapegoat's destination, a series of way stations had been manned since before the onset of the Yom Kippur. This was a system that had been devised to insure that the mission was indeed carried out; men had been pre-positioned at equidistant locations to render the scapegoat's warden any assistance that he may require, and to accompany him along the way. The Mishna records that the distance between Jerusalem and the desert cliff was 90 ris - 12 mil. The distance between each station was one mil, or 2,000 amot (with the exception of the distance between the last station and the cliff, which was 2 mil).

Ten Booths (continued)

These "stations" were actually booths, and food and drink were kept there in the event that the kohen leading the scapegoat should feel physically unable to continue without breaking his fast. In such a case, he would be permitted to eat and drink - as the kohen passed by each booth, they would call out to him: "There is food and water here!" Yet despite the distance and the heat, the Talmud records that no kohen ever had to break his fast; the psychological advantage for the kohanim of knowing that the food and water were there should the need arise was enough.

Distinguished citizens of Jerusalem accompanied the kohen until the first booth; afterwards, men from each booth accompanied him as far as the next station.

To the Cliff

However, the men of the last station could not accompany him all the way to the cliff, since this was a greater distance and one is not permitted to walk more than 2,000 amot in any direction on the Sabbath or holidays. Therefore, they stood and watched from their position, to make certain that the scapegoat was sent off in the prescribed manner.

The Scapegoat Dies

Arriving at the cliff, the kohen removes the crimson wool that the Kohen Gadol had tied to the scapegoat's horns. He divides it into two pieces; one piece he reties once again to the animal's horns, and the second, to a rock. This is so that he will also be able to see when the crimson color has turned white, and know that atonement has been made for Israel's sins. Then he pushes the goat backward with his two hands.

Part 9

The Scapegoat Dies (continued)

After he has accomplished his task, the kohen who led the scapegoat walks back to the last booth, and waits there until dark before he returns to Jerusalem - for it has only been permitted for him to travel this distance in order to fulfill the duty of the scapegoat. However once that has been done, he must wait until the conclusion of the Day of Atonement before he returns.

The Scouts' Signals

Back inside the Holy Temple, after having delivered the scapegoat into the hands of his colleague, the Kohen Gadol must wait to receive word that the scapegoat has reached the desert, for he is not permitted to begin the next stage of the day's service until then. In addition to the miracle of the crimson wool on the Sanctuary turning white, this information reached the Temple another way as well: scouts were positioned at high points all along the route to the cliff. As the goat was led from one station to the next, these scouts would signal each other by waving cloths. When the scapegoat had been sent off, the news was relayed back to the Temple through the scouts' signals.

Reading from the Torah

Once this news has been received, the Kohen Gadol descends to the Women's Court and reads aloud from the book of Leviticus (chapter 16, the reading for Yom Kippur) before the congregation. This is done with great ceremony. In the words of the Mishna (Yoma 7, 1): "The synagogue assistant takes the Torah scroll from the synagogue, and gives it to the synagogue head. He, in turn, hands the Torah to the assistant priest. The latter delivers it into the hands of the Kohen Gadol." All of this was done out of honor for the Kohen Gadol, who is served by such a large staff.

The Burning of the Bull and Goat

"The bull and goat presented as sin-offerings, the blood of which was brought into the Sanctuary to make atonement, shall be taken outside the camp." (Leviticus 16:27)

The two offerings are taken out the northern gate of Jerusalem to the site known as "the Place of the Ashes."

Disposing of the White Vestments

At the conclusion of the service, the Kohen Gadol gives the two sets of white vestments he has worn for the morning and afternoon services, over to his assistants, who dispose of them in the Chamber of Pinchas, a storeroom for priestly garments.

A Celebration of Thanks

At the conclusion of this awesome day, after all the service was completed and the day had waned, the Kohen Gadol was accompanied by the entire multitude of worshipers back to his own home. "When the Kohen Gadol exited from the holy place unharmed, he made a celebration for his loved ones" (ibid., 4) at the conclusion of Yom Kippur - to give thanks to G-d that he successfully guided the service, and was neither rendered unfit nor adversely affected.

As we read in the High Holiday Prayer Book for the Day of Atonement,

"How radiant was the appearance of the Kohen Gadol, when he exited in peace from the holy place! Like flashes of light that emanate from the splendor of the angels - such was the appearance of the Kohen Gadol."

Ne'ilah: The Closing of the Gates

Just before the setting of the sun, the Levite gatekeepers push shut the gates of the Sanctuary and the Courtyard.

In Conclusion

"Whoever says, 'I will sin, and then I will repent afterwards' is denied the opportunity to repent.

And one who says, 'I will sin, and Yom Kippur will grant me atonement' - for such an individual, Yom Kippur does not atone.

The Day of Atonement only functions to grant atonement for sins committed between man and G-d. But for sins committed between man and his fellow, even Yom Kippur cannot atone... until the wronged man has been asked forgiveness and appeased.

Rabbi Akiva taught: 'Happy is your lot, Israel! For before whom do you purify yourselves, and who purifies you? Your Father in heaven, as the verse states (Ez. 36:25) I will sprinkle on you pure waters, and you shall be cleansed'." (Yoma 8, 9).

[My Note: This concludes the Yom Kippur Ceremony according to Rabbinic Judaism. You will notice that there are a lot of things that take place during this Ceremony that is not written in the Scriptures. These procedures/rituals are according to Rabbinic Judaism’s extra writings. These are known as “Oral Laws” which were not written down for many centuries. They have been written down now for a few centuries.

I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not endorse, promote or have any part in Rabbinic Judaism. I love my Jewish brothers and sisters but, I will not support their Rabbinic ways. I use what is written in the Bible as my ‘source’ to guide me in my walk with my Heavenly Father, YHWH.

The above illustration says it all. When Rabbinic Judaism crosses over and receives/embraces Yeshua/Jesus as their Messiah and when Christianity crosses over and receives/embraces the Torah which is YHWH’s Instructions, the two will become One In Messiah Yeshua.

As a wise man once said as he was speaking from YHWH's perspective, "We can either do it My Way or we can do it My Way but either way, we will do it My Way." And what is His Way? We learn His Ways from His Teachings and Instructions He has given mankind that is written in the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. The only question is, are we willing to obey and do what He has given us to do to show our love for Him? Here is what is written in the Scriptures as to "how" we show Him we love Him...

"but showing kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and guard [keep/do/obey] My [YHWH] commands. "

(Exodus 20:6, The Scriptures Translation, emphasis and comment added)

Yeshua/Jesus speaking, "If you love Me, you shall guard [keep/do/obey] My commands."

(John 14:15, The Scriptures Translation, emphasis and comment added)

"2 By this we know that we love the children of Elohim [Mighty One/God], when we love Elohim and guard [keep/do/obey] His commands. 3 For this is the love for Elohim, that we guard His commands, and His commands are not heavy,"

(1 John 5:2-3, The Scriptures Translation, emphasis and comment added)

"And this is the love, that we walk [keep/do/obey] according to His commands. This is the command, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk [keep/do/obey] in it."

(2 John verse 6, The Scriptures Translation, emphasis and comment added)

I encourage you to take the time to examine yourself to see, Do I love Him 'my way' or am I loving Him His Way?]

According to Rabbinic Judaism, the Oral Torah or Oral Law (Hebrew: תורה שבעל פה‎, Torah she-be-`al peh, lit. "Torah that is on the mouth") represents those laws, statutes, and legal interpretations that were not recorded in the Five Books of Moses, the "Written Torah" (Hebrew: תורה שבכתב‎, Torah she-bi-khtav, lit. "Torah that is in writing"), but nonetheless are regarded by Orthodox Jews as prescriptive and given at the same time. This holistic Jewish code of conduct encompasses a wide swathe of rituals, worship practices, God–man and interpersonal relationships, from dietary laws to Sabbath and festival observance to marital relations, agricultural practices, and civil claims and damages.

According to Jewish tradition, the Oral Torah was passed down orally in an unbroken chain from generation to generation until its contents were finally committed to writing following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, when Jewish civilization was faced with an existential threat, by virtue of the dispersion of the Jewish people.[1]

The major repositories of the Oral Torah are the Mishnah, compiled between 200–220 CE by Rabbi Yehudah haNasi, and the Gemara, a series of running commentaries and debates concerning the Mishnah, which together form the Talmud, the preeminent text of Rabbinic Judaism. In fact, two "versions" of the Talmud exist: one produced in the Galilee c. 300–350 CE (the Jerusalem Talmud), and a second, more extensive Talmud compiled in Babylonia c. 450–500 CE (the Babylonian Talmud).

Belief that at least portions of the Oral Torah were transmitted orally from God to Moses on Mount Sinai during the Exodus from Egypt is a fundamental tenet of faith of Orthodox Judaism, and was recognized as one of the Thirteen Principles of Faith by Maimonides. However, not all branches of Rabbinic Judaism accept the literal Sinaitic provenance of the Oral Torah, characterizing it as the product of a historical process of continuing interpretation.

There have also been historical dissenters to the Oral Torah in its entirety, including the ancient Sadducees and adherents to modern Karaite Judaism, who attempt to derive their religious practice strictly from the Written Torah, using Scripture's most natural meaning to form their basis of Jewish law. Karaites often look to traditions of interpretation but, unlike Rabbinic Jews, do not ascribe to those traditions authoritative or normative parity with the Written Torah. (Source: Oral Law)

[1] Howard Schwartz, Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism, Oxford University Press, 2004. p lv]

I hope what has been presented on Yom Kippur has shed some light/understanding on one of Almighty YHWH’s Mo’ed, Appointed Times. I encourage everyone to take the time to read all the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation because this is His Love Letter to mankind, His Creation. We are His ‘Imagers.’ For we are made in His Image. (Genesis 1:27)


I am One Crying In The Wilderness!

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