Mishnah Yoma Chapter 1 Mishnah 5 Pt. 5

by Lauren Tuchman, SVARA Fellow

מַשְׁבִּיעִין אָנוּ עָלֶיךָ בְּמִי שֶׁשִּׁכֵּן שְׁמוֹ בַבַּיִת הַזֶּה
We administer an oath to you by the One Who housed The Name in this House…

We’re continuing to unpack the oath that the Elders administer to the High Priest in the lead-up to Yom Kippur. These Elders could either be of the Court or of the Priesthood, or possibly both. The Name of The One who housed The Name in this House is an interesting way to talk about The Divine presence. I’m intrigued by the convoluted nature of the oath. How are we to understand the Divine as being called The One who housed The Name in this House? By house, the Elders here are referring to the Bet haMikdash, the Holy Temple, the Axis Mundi or center of the universe. The Name is the holy ineffable name uttered only in the Holy of Holies by the High Priest on Yom Kippur.

With gratitude to our teacher Jhos for unpacking the root shin-bet-ayin, I’m going to explore the root shin-kaf-nun. This root means to dwell, to house, and is the root of Shechinah, the Divine Presence, the indwelling feminine Divine. There’s a certain sense of inwardness, of closeness.

I am carrying many wonderings about the lead-up to Yom Kippur and the care with which the Mishnah is unpacking and describing the oath. Precision is important to the rabbis, which carries with it a certain discipline of practice. We record that which we wish to remember. Ours is a tradition that encourages immersion in learning for its own sake, even and especially when our texts don’t have immediate relevance in our ritual lives. As we carry our learning forward, we might choose to think about how words with intent anchor our own life and practice.

Check out the rest of the Yoma Learning Guide here!
Want some daily insights from our learners, too? Want to stay up to date on all things Mishnah Collective?
Sign up for our email list here!

Read More