Introduction to Hilchot Avodat Yom haKippurim

It contains one positive commandment. It is to perform the service of the Day of Atonement in regard to the sacrifices, confessions, sending away of the Scapegoat and the remainder of the service.

This mitzvah is explained in the ensuing chapters.

הלכות עבודת יום הכפורים - הקדמה מצוַת עשה אחת, והיא שיעשה מעשה יום הכפורים כולו על הסדר, כמו שכתוב בפרשת "אחרי מות": הקרבנות, והוידויין, ושילוח השעיר, ושאר העבודה. וביאור מצוָה זו בפרקים אלו:


On the fast day of Yom Kippur, we sacrifice a continuous offering in the morning and in the late afternoon according to the order followed every day. And the additional sacrifices of the day are offered: a bull, a ram, and seven sheep - all these are burnt-offerings - and a sin-offering of a goat whose service is performed outside and which is eaten in the evening.

Besides these additional offerings are sacrificed:

a) a young ox as a sin-offering; it is burnt;

b) a ram as a burnt-offering; both of these are brought by the High Priest;

c) the ram which is brought from communal funds that is mentioned in the passage Acharei Mot; it is the ram mentioned in the Book of Numbers as part of the additional offering; it is called the ram of the people.

In addition, two goats are brought from communal funds: one is offered as a sin-offering and it is burnt and the other is the goat sent to Azazel.

Thus there are a total of fifteen animals sacrificed on this day: two continuous offerings, a bull, two rams and seven sheep; these are all burnt-offerings, two goats as sin-offerings, one offered outside the Temple building which is eaten in the evening and one whose blood is offered in the Temple building and which is burnt, and the bull of the High Priest which is a sin-offering that is burnt.


בְיוֹם הַצּוֹם מַקְרִיבִין תָּמִיד בַּשַּׁחַר וְתָמִיד בֵּין הָעַרְבַּיִם כְּסֵדֶר כָּל יוֹם וְיוֹם. וּמַקְרִיבִין מוּסַף הַיּוֹם פַּר וְאַיִל וְשִׁבְעָה כְּבָשִׂים כֻּלָּם עוֹלוֹת. וְשָׂעִיר חַטָּאת נַעֲשֶׂה בַּחוּץ וְהוּא נֶאֱכָל לָעֶרֶב. וְעוֹד מַקְרִיבִין יֶתֶר עַל מוּסָף זֶה. פַּר בֶּן בָּקָר לְחַטָּאת וְהוּא נִשְׂרָף. וְאַיִל לְעוֹלָה. וּשְׁנֵיהֶם מִשֶּׁל כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל. וְאַיִל הַבָּא מִשֶּׁל צִבּוּר הָאָמוּר בְּפָרָשַׁת (ויקרא טז א) "אַחֲרֵי מוֹת". וְהוּא הָאַיִל הָאָמוּר בְּחֻמַּשׁ הַפְּקוּדִים בִּכְלַל הַמּוּסָף. וְהוּא הַנִּקְרָא אֵיל הָעָם. וְעוֹד מְבִיאִין מִשֶּׁל צִבּוּר שְׁנֵי שְׂעִירֵי עִזִּים. אֶחָד קָרֵב חַטָּאת וְהוּא נִשְׂרָף. וְהַשֵּׁנִי שָׂעִיר הַמִּשְׁתַּלֵּחַ. נִמְצְאוּ כָּל הַבְּהֵמוֹת הַקְּרֵבִים בְּיוֹם זֶה חֲמֵשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה. שְׁנֵי תְּמִידִין. וּפַר. וּשְׁנֵי אֵילִים וְשִׁבְעָה כְּבָשִׂים כֻּלָּם עוֹלוֹת. וּשְׁנֵי שְׂעִירִים חַטָּאת אֶחָד נַעֲשֶׂה בַּחוּץ וְנֶאֱכַל לָעֶרֶב וְהַשֵּׁנִי נַעֲשֶׂה בִּפְנִים וְנִשְׂרָף. וּפַר כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל לְחַטָּאת וְהוּא נִשְׂרָף:


The sacrificial service for all these fifteen animals that are offered on this day may be performed only by the High Priest. This applies both to a High Priest anointed with the oil of anointment or initiated into office by wearing the garments of the High Priest.

If Yom Kippur fell on the Sabbath, even the additional offering of the Sabbath should be sacrificed only by the High Priest. Similarly, all of the other services performed on this day, the offering of the daily incense offering, the kindling of the Menorah's lamps, are all performed by a married High Priest, as Leviticus 16:6 states: "And he shall atone for himself and his household." "His household" refers to his wife.


עֲבוֹדַת כָּל חֲמֵשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה בְּהֵמוֹת אֵלּוּ הַקְּרֵבִין בְּיוֹם זֶה אֵינָהּ אֶלָּא בְּכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל בִּלְבַד. אֶחָד כֹּהֵן הַמָּשׁוּחַ בְּשֶׁמֶן הַמִּשְׁחָה אוֹ הַמְרֻבֶּה בִּבְגָדִים. וְאִם הָיְתָה שַׁבָּת אַף מוּסַף שַׁבָּת אֵין מַקְרִיב אוֹתוֹ אֶלָּא כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל. וְכֵן שְׁאָר הָעֲבוֹדוֹת שֶׁל יוֹם זֶה כְּגוֹן הַקְטָרַת הַקְּטֹרֶת שֶׁל כָּל יוֹם וַהֲטָבַת הַנֵּרוֹת הַכּל עָשׂוּי בְּכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל נָשׂוּי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא טז ו) (ויקרא טז יא) (ויקרא טז יז) "וְכִפֶּר בַּעֲדוֹ וּבְעַד בֵּיתוֹ". בֵּיתוֹ זוֹ אִשְׁתּוֹ:


For seven days prior to Yom Kippur, the High Priest departs from his home and stays in his chamber in the Temple. This is a tradition received from Moses our teacher. He is separated from his wife for these seven days, lest his wife become a niddah in the midst of relations and he become impure for seven days and thus unable to perform the Temple service.

A substitute High Priest is prepared so that if this one becomes disqualified, the other may serve instead of him. Whether the disqualifying factor takes place when offering the continuous offering of the morning or the disqualifying factor occurred after he offered his sacrifice, the replacement need not be installed in his office by offering a special sacrifice. Instead, the performance of the sacrificial service of the day installs him. He should begin from the service where the other ceased.

After Yom Kippur, the first High Priest resumes his position and the second ceases to serve in this capacity. All of the mitzvot incumbent on a High Priest are incumbent on him, but he does not carry out the service of the High Priest. If he does perform that service, his service is acceptable. When the first dies, he is appointed in his place.


שִׁבְעַת יָמִים קֹדֶם לְיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים מַפְרִישִׁין כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל מִבֵּיתוֹ לְלִשְׁכָּתוֹ שֶׁבַּמִּקְדָּשׁ וְדָבָר זֶה קַבָּלָה מִמּשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ. וּמַפְרִישִׁין אוֹתוֹ מֵאִשְׁתּוֹ כָּל שִׁבְעַת יָמִים אֵלּוּ שֶׁמָּא תִּמָּצֵא אִשְׁתּוֹ נִדָּה וְנִמְצָא טָמֵא שִׁבְעַת יָמִים וְאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לַעֲבֹד. וּמַתְקִינִין לוֹ כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל אַחֵר שֶׁאִם יֶאֱרַע בְּזֶה פִּסּוּל יַעֲבֹד הָאַחֵר תַּחְתָּיו. בֵּין שֶׁאֵרַע בּוֹ פִּסּוּל קֹדֶם תָּמִיד שֶׁל שַׁחַר בֵּין שֶׁאֵרַע בּוֹ פִּסּוּל אַחַר שֶׁהִקְרִיב קָרְבָּנוֹ זֶה שֶׁנִּכְנַס תַּחְתָּיו אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ חִנּוּךְ אֶלָּא עֲבוֹדָתוֹ מְחַנַּכְתּוֹ וּמַתְחִיל מֵעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁפָּסַק בָּהּ הָרִאשׁוֹן. עָבַר יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים הֲרֵי הָרִאשׁוֹן חוֹזֵר לַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ וְהַשֵּׁנִי עוֹבֵר וְכָל מִצְוֹת כְּהֻנָּה גְּדוֹלָה עָלָיו אֶלָּא שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹבֵד כְּכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל וְאִם עָבַד עֲבוֹדָתוֹ כְּשֵׁרָה. וְאִם מֵת הָרִאשׁוֹן זֶה הַשֵּׁנִי מִתְמַנֶּה תַּחְתָּיו:


During these seven days, he is sprinkled with the ashes of the Red Heifer on the third day after he was separated and on the seventh day which is the day before Yom Kippur, lest he have contracted impurity from a corpse unknowingly. If the third or the seventh day of the sprinkling falls on the Sabbath, the sprinkling is not performed.


בְּשִׁבְעַת יָמִים אֵלּוּ מַזִּין עָלָיו מֵאֵפֶר הַפָּרָה בַּשְּׁלִישִׁי לְהַפְרָשָׁתוֹ וּבַשְּׁבִיעִי שֶׁהוּא עֶרֶב יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים שֶׁמָּא נִטְמָא בְּמֵת וְלֹא יָדַע. וְאִם חָל יוֹם שַׁבָּת בַּשְּׁלִישִׁי אוֹ בַּשְּׁבִיעִי שֶׁלּוֹ דּוֹחִין אֶת הַהַזָּיָה:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.


For all of these seven days, he is trained to perform the Temple service. He casts the blood on the altar, offers the incense, kindles the lamps, and offers the limbs of the continuous offering on the altar's pyre so that he will be familiar with the Temple service.

He is given sages from the elders of the court who read the relevant passages for him and teach him the service necessary to be performed on the holy day and its order. They tell him: "My sir, the High Priest, read by yourself, for perhaps you have forgotten or you never learned this point." On the day before Yom Kippur in the morning, they would have him stand in the eastern gates of the Temple Courtyard and cause bulls, rams, and sheep to pass before him so he would be familiar and accustomed with the Temple service.


כָּל שִׁבְעַת הַיָּמִים מַרְגִּילִין אוֹתוֹ בַּעֲבוֹדוֹת. זוֹרֵק אֶת הַדָּם וּמַקְטִיר אֶת הַקְּטֹרֶת וּמֵיטִיב אֶת הַנֵּרוֹת וּמַקְטִיר אֵיבְרֵי תָּמִיד עַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה רָגִיל בַּעֲבוֹדָה בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים. וּמוֹסְרִין לוֹ זְקֵנִים מִזִּקְנֵי בֵּית דִּין וְקוֹרְאִים לְפָנָיו וּמְלַמְּדִין אוֹתוֹ עֲבוֹדַת הַיּוֹם וְסִדּוּרָהּ וְאוֹמְרִין לוֹ אִישִׁי כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל קְרָא אַתָּה בְּפִיךָ שֶׁמָּא שָׁכַחְתָּ אוֹ שֶׁמָּא לֹא לָמַדְתָּ דָּבָר זֶה. וְעֶרֶב יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים בְּשַׁחֲרִית הָיוּ מַעֲמִידִין אוֹתוֹ בְּשַׁעֲרֵי הַמִּזְרָח וּמַעֲבִירִין לְפָנָיו פָּרִים וְאֵילִים וּכְבָשִׂים כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה מַכִּיר וְרָגִיל בַּעֲבוֹדָה:


Throughout these seven days food and drink are not withheld from him. Nevertheless, on the day before Yom Kippur before nightfall, they would not let him eat amply, for indulgence in food leads to sleep. And they would not let him sleep, lest he would have a seminal emission. They would not feed him foods that increase semen, e.g., eggs, warm milk, and the like.


כָּל שִׁבְעַת הַיָּמִים לֹא הָיוּ מוֹנְעִין מִמֶּנּוּ מַאֲכָל וּמַשְׁקֶה. עֶרֶב יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים עִם חֲשֵׁכָה לֹא הָיוּ מַנִּיחִין אוֹתוֹ לֶאֱכל הַרְבֵּה שֶׁהַמַּאֲכָל מֵבִיא אֶת הַשֵּׁנָה. וְלֹא הָיוּ מַנִּיחִין אוֹתוֹ לִישֹׁן שֶׁמָּא יִרְאֶה קֶרִי. וְלֹא הָיוּ מַאֲכִילִין אוֹתוֹ דְּבָרִים הַמַּרְגִּילִין לְשִׁכְבַת זֶרַע כְּגוֹן בֵּיצִים וְחָלָב חַם וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן:


In the era of the Second Temple, heresy erupted in Israel, and the Sadducees emerged, may they speedily perish, who did not believe in the Oral Law and who maintained that the incense offering of Yom Kippur would be placed on fire in the Sanctuary outside the Parochet and when its smoke rose up, they would bring it into the Holy of Holies. Their rationale was that they interpreted the Torah's phrase Leviticus 16:2: "For in a cloud I will appear on the Kaporet,"as referring to the cloud of the incense offering. In contrast, according to the Oral Tradition, our Sages learned that the High Priest should place the incense on the coals only in the Holy of Holies, before the Ark, as ibid.:13 states: "And he shall place the incense on the fire before God." Since in the Second Temple era, the Sages suspected that the High Priests would tend towards such heresy, they would have him take an oath on the day preceding Yom Kippur. They would tell him: "My sir, the High Priest, we are agents of the court and you are our agent and an agent of the court, we administer an oath to you in the name of He Who causes His name to dwell in this house that you not deviate at all from what we told you."

The High Priest would turn away and cry because they suspected him of heresy and they would turn away and cry, because they placed suspicion on a person whose conduct was unknown. Maybe he had no such thoughts in his heart.


בִּימֵי בַּיִת שֵׁנִי צָץ הַמִּינוּת בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל. וְיָצְאוּ הַצְּדוֹקִין מְהֵרָה יֹאבֵדוּ שֶׁאֵינָן מַאֲמִינִין בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה. וְהָיוּ אוֹמְרִין שֶׁקְּטֹרֶת שֶׁל יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים מַנִּיחִין אוֹתָהּ עַל הָאֵשׁ בַּהֵיכָל חוּץ לַפָּרֹכֶת וּכְשֶׁיַּעֲלֶה עֲשָׁנָהּ מַכְנִיס אוֹתָהּ לְפָנִים לְקֹדֶשׁ הַקָּדָשִׁים. הַטַּעַם. זֶה שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה (ויקרא טז ב) "כִּי בֶּעָנָן אֵרָאֶה עַל הַכַּפֹּרֶת" אָמְרוּ כִּי הוּא עֲנַן הַקְּטֹרֶת. וּמִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁאֵין נוֹתֵן הַקְּטֹרֶת אֶלָּא בְּקֹדֶשׁ הַקָּדָשִׁים לִפְנֵי הָאָרוֹן. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא טז יג) "וְנָתַן הַקְּטֹרֶת עַל הָאֵשׁ לִפְנֵי ה'". וּלְפִי שֶׁהָיוּ חוֹשְׁשִׁין בְּבַיִת שֵׁנִי שֶׁמָּא כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל זֶה נוֹטֶה לְצַד מִינוּת. הָיוּ מַשְׁבִּיעִין אוֹתוֹ עֶרֶב יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים וְאוֹמְרִים לוֹ אִישִׁי כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל אָנוּ שְׁלוּחֵי בֵּית דִּין וְאַתָּה שְׁלוּחֵנוּ וּשְׁלִיחַ בֵּית דִּין. מַשְׁבִּיעִין אָנוּ עָלֶיךָ בְּמִי שֶׁשִּׁכֵּן אֶת שְׁמוֹ בַּבַּיִת הַזֶּה שֶׁלֹּא תְּשַׁנֶּה דָּבָר שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ לְךָ. וְהוּא פּוֹרֵשׁ וּבוֹכֶה עַל שֶׁחֲשָׁדוּהוּ בְּמִינוּת. וְהֵן פּוֹרְשִׁין וּבוֹכִין לְפִי שֶׁחָשְׁדוּ לְמִי שֶׁמַּעֲשָׂיו סְתוּמִין שֶׁמָּא אֵין בְּלִבּוֹ כְּלוּם:


Throughout the entire night of Yom Kippur, the High Priest would sit and expound Torah teachings if he was a sage. If he was a scholar, expositions were delivered in his presence. If he would frequently read the Bible, he would read aloud. If not, they would read for him so that he would not sleep.

What would they read for him? The Holy Scriptures. If he sought to doze off, the young Levites would snap their fingers before him and say: "My sir, the High Priest, stand up and cool your feet on the ground," so that he would not sleep. They would keep him busy until the time for the slaughter of the morning sacrifice arrived. They would not have the sacrificial animal slaughtered until they were certain that dawn had broken lest the animal be slaughtered at night.


כָּל לֵילֵי יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל יוֹשֵׁב וְדוֹרֵשׁ אִם הָיָה חָכָם. וְאִם הָיָה תַּלְמִיד דּוֹרְשִׁים לְפָנָיו. אִם הָיָה רָגִיל לִקְרֹא קוֹרֵא וְאִם לָאו קוֹרִין לְפָנָיו. כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִישַׁן. וּבַמֶּה קוֹרִין לְפָנָיו. בְּכִתְבֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ. בִּקֵּשׁ לְהִתְנַמְנֵם פִּרְחֵי לְוִיָּה מַכִּין לְפָנָיו בְּאֶצְבַּע צְרֵדָה. וְאוֹמְרִים לוֹ אִישִׁי כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל עֲמֹד וְהִצְטַנֵּן מְעַט עַל הָרִצְפָּה כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא תִּישַׁן. וּמִתְעַסְּקִין עִמּוֹ עַד שֶׁמַּגִּיעַ זְמַן שְׁחִיטָה. וְלֹא הָיוּ שׁוֹחֲטִין עַד שֶׁמַּכִּירִין שֶׁעָלָה עַמּוּד הַשַּׁחַר בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁמָּא יִשְׁחֲטוּ בַּלַּיְלָה: