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Yoma 49

YOMA 49-50 (6 & 7 Adar) were dedicated by Harav Avi Feldman & family in memory of his father, the Tzadik Harav Yisrael Azriel ben Harav Chaim (Feldman) of Milwaukee (Yahrzeit: 6 Adar)


OPINIONS: The Gemara describes Chafinah as one of the most difficult Avodos performed in the Beis ha'Mikdash. When the Kohen Gadol entered the Kodesh ha'Kodashim to burn the special incense of Yom ha'Kipurim, he carried the Kaf containing Ketores in his left hand and a pan of burning coals in his right. He placed the pan of coals on the floor, poured the Ketores from the Kaf into his palms and spread the Ketores on the coals, as the verse specifies (Vayikra 16:12-13).

The difficult part is pouring the Ketores into his hands. Since the Kohen Gadol holds the Kaf with one hand, how does he pour the Ketores from there into *both* of his hands?

(a) RASHI (as explained in more detail by the ME'IRI on the Mishnah) explains that the Kohen Gadol held the Kaf in his hands, and used his thumbs to slide the handle of the Kaf back towards his body until it was positioned between his elbows, with the bowl of the Kaf in his fingertips (and the bowl resting on the fleshy part of the palm). Then, with the help of his elbows, he then rotated the bowl above his hands so that it emptied the Ketores into his palms, being careful not to spill any of it (RASHI, ME'IRI).

(b) According to the RAMBAM (Hilchos Avodas Yom ha'Kipurim 4:1 (who had a slightly different Girsa in our Gemara), the Kohen Gadol dtilted the Kaf up above his hands with his fingertips or teeth, and then swept the Ketores into his palms with his thumbs.

(c) The previous two opinions are based on our Gemara's description of the Chafinah. In the YERUSHALMI (Yoma 5:2), though, two other suggestions are given for how the Chafinah was done. Rebbi Chaninah says that the Kohen Gadol threw the Kaf into the air so that it flipped over, and he caught the falling Ketores in his two hands. Shmuel says that he placed the handle of the Kaf between his legs and then rotated it so that the Ketores emptied into his hands. (This is similar to Rashi's explanation, except that the Kohen Gadol used his legs instead of his elbows to help rotate the Kaf.)

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