The Demoted Kohen Gadol

Horayot (3:1) | Yisrael Bankier | 3 years ago

During our study of masechet Horayot we learnt about the unique korbanot that were offered by the kohan gadol and the king, in the case where they sinned. The third perek open with the case where a kohen gadol or king sinned and then prior to bringing their offering, no longer served in their post. The Mishnah rules that they would still bring the unique offering. We shall focus on the case of the kohen gadol.

The second Mishnah continues that, with respect to the kohen gadol, even if he sinned after he stopped acting as the kohen gadol, he would still bring the unique korban. The Bartenura explains that despite no longer serving, he retains the sanctity of a kohen gadol. What caused this kohen gadol to no longer serve?

The Tifferet Yisrael begins by explaining that this kohen gadol was not able to serve because he became tameh. In this case it occurred on Yom Kippur and a replacement was temporarily required. Since he will return to work, he retains his kedusha and then laws that come with it.

The Tifferet Yisrael however continues, citing the Rambam (Shegagot 15) that this would also be the case if the kohen gadol developed a blemish that permanently prevented him from working in the Beit HaMikdash. He reasons that we find that all the laws that apply to a kohen gadol, e.g. the limits on who he can marry, still apply. Considering that it would be difficult to differentiate between which laws continue to apply, then the special korban would also still be offered, even in this case.

To explain further, the Rambam in his commentary on the Mishnah explains that even if the kohen gadol stopped serving due to a blemish or old age, since he was anointed with the special anointing oil, he retains his kedusha.

The Chazon Ish explains that the kohen referred to in our Mishnah is the kohen gadol that stood in temporarily for the kohen gadol that was unable to serve due to being tameh. The Gemara (12b) explains that that kohen is unable to serve as the kohen gadol or regular kohen. Once he has acted as kohen gadol his kedusha cannot be reduced. He also cannot continue to serve alongside the kohen gadol in that capacity due to potential animosity. The Chazon Ish continues that the reason of animosity preventing him from serving, implies that his full kedusha is really retained.

The Chazon Ish however reasons that if the kohen gadol was removed from his post (by the king and kohanim) then we would revert to being a regular kohen and would be considered like everyone else if he subsequently sinned. He directs us to the Tosfot (Yoma 12b) who cite the Yerushalmi that explains that the kohen gadol is "appointed by mouth and removed by mouth". The fact that the Gemara ruled that all the laws of a kohen gadol apply to a "past" kohen gadol and not a kohen gadol that was removed, implies that once removed he is considered a regular kohen gadol.

R' Yechezkel Abramsky (Sefer HaZikaron, 370) however cites the Grach who explains that Tosfot differently. He explains that there are two laws with respected to the kohen gadol. The first is his appointment to the position, after which he serves with additional garments. The second is his kedusha, with which comes the additional laws (who he can marry) and his unique korbanot. He continues that his appointment to serve can indeed be revoked. This is what the Tosfot was referring to by noting the ability to remove a kohen gadol from serving. The kedusha however, having been anointed with the anointing oil, cannot be removed and would endure, even if his appointment was revoked.


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