Mishnah Yoma Chapter 1 Mishnah 1 Pt. 2

by Hayley Goldstein, SVARA Fellow

מִבֵּיתוֹ לְלִשְׁכַּת פַּלְהֶדְרִין
…from his house to the Chamber of Parhedrin.

A reminder that our new Masechet is discussing Yom Kippur, and particularly how it looked in TTs (Temple Times). In our Mishnah, we are discussing how they would remove the Kohen Gadol, reminding us of his special and separate status. I share Jhos’ curiosity about the fact that the Rabbis are starting here, knowing full well that by the time these conversations were being recorded, the temple was, as Jhos put it, “a pile of rocks”. If the Rabbis are trying to make a case for an option three Judaism, perhaps they have to start with TTs for their project to have legitimacy

Our fancy word of the day is פַּלְהֶדְרִין, the accounting chamber. This fancy word, like the word Sanhedrin, is borrowed from Greek!! Fascinating how a name for a chamber in the Holy of Holies is referred to by a Greek name. Is this the Rabbi’s being facetious? Like, oooh la la your fancy accounting chamber, we are going to dakva use secular/non-holy language to describe it?? The fact that this accounting chamber, according to Jastrow, used to be called the Senator’s cell, also serves as a reminder of how political the Temple was! Maybe it wasn’t (just?) this special space that hippies like me romanticize as a place we could connect to the divine in a tactile, visceral way. Offering meat, grains and herbs and smoke instead of solely connecting via words and books. Rather, it was a place of hierarchy and major politics. I would venture to say the Rabbis are being intentional in the way they are portraying it, lest we (hippie or not) begin to romanticize.

Going wayyyy outside, I am finding meaning in the words “separate/מַפְרִישִׁין”, “from his house/מִבֵּיתוֹ”, and “chamber/לִשְׁכַּת”. These days, it’s really easy to feel alone with all that’s happening in the world. We are expected to keep going with our jobs and responsibilities, or in some cases like the Cohen Gadol, carry other people’s responsibilities as well. May we remember that we are not alone, even if things feel designed to make us feel that way. So grateful to have this community to learn with and connect to, no matter what is happening in the world.

Check out the rest of the Yoma Learning Guide here!

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