- The Lotteries

The Lotteries

Home Education Beis Hamikdosh

The Lotteries

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Segment 3                                                                                                           Esther Livingstone

The Lotteries- הַפְּיָיסוֹת
Each Beis Av in every mishmar was given a specific day during the week on which they would serve in the Beis Hamikdash. Yet, because there were often many Kohanim who desired the various honours involved with the day’s korban tamid offerings, a system of lotteries was introduced.  This ensured that everything remained peaceful and fair.

1.    How many lotteries took place each day for the Kohanim?
2.    Who conducted these lotteries?
3.    Where did the lotteries take place?
4.    A random number was chosen for each lottery- who would choose this number?
5.    What was it that the administrator counted from each Kohen present?
6.    How many was each Kohen to hold up?
7.    From where in the circle of Kohanim did the memuneh begin to count?
8.    In the 1st lottery of the day, how many people were chosen, and what honour were they competing for?
9.    How many Kohanim were chosen in the 2nd lottery?
10.    What various honours did all these Kohanim merit? (Hint- most were to do with the korban tamid.)
11.    What privilege did the 3rd lottery allocate? 
12.    Could all the Kohanim participate in this lottery?
13.    How many Kohanim were chosen in the 4th lottery, and what did they merit to do?
14.    There were two korban tamid’s offered each day. Which Kohanim were involved in the second korban tamid?
15.    Who merited the honour of offering the ketores in the afternoon?


1.    At least four separate lotteries took place daily. (Hil. Temidin U’Mussafin 4:5.  See notes to Q/A 15 re “At least four”).
2.    The Administrator of the Lotteries/ הַפְּיָיסוֹת על הַמְמוּנֶה.
3.    The Rambam says that all four took place in the sanctified half of the Lishkas HaGazis/ Chamber of Hewn Stone -where the Sandhedrin Hagadol would hear cases. (Hilchos  Temidin U’Mussafin 6:1)  Many commentators say that the later three took place there, but the first one took place in the sanctified half of the Beis Hamoked/Hall of Fire .                   
4.    All the Kohanim present would decide upon a random number for that lottery.
5.    He counted the number of fingers held up by each Kohen.
6.    Only one or two fingers, but not the thumb. We aren’t supposed to count people directly- see Shmuel 1 -15:4.
7.    From the Kohen whose turban the memuneh would remove just before beginning to count. (Answers 4-7:  Hilchos Temidin U’Mussafin 4:1,3,4 ).
8.    One Kohen was chosen. The honours given to him were the rights: to perform the terumas hadeshen - separating a portion of ash from the mizbei’ach’s large pyre;  to arrange the two pyres of fire on the mizbei’ach ; and to place two blocks of wood on the mizbei’ach (ha’olah). (Hilchos Temidin U’Mussafin 4:5)
9.    Thirteen Kohanim were chosen on weekdays- the one the lottery fell on from the counting, and the next 12 who stood to his right. 
10.    The selected Kohen slaughtered the korban tamid; the 2nd received the korban’s blood; the 3rd cleared the ash from the mizbei’ach haketores; the 4th cleared the ash from the menorah and lit its’ lamps; the 5th-10th brought the various parts of the korban up the ramp of the mizbei’ach; the 11th, 12th and 13th brought up the minchas nesachim (fine flour and oil), the chavitin loaves (of the Kohen Gadol’s daily offering), and the wine respectively.  All of the above items were left on the bottom part of the ramp. (Answers 9-10:  Hilchos Temidin U’Mussafin 4:6)
11.    This lottery decided who got the privilege to offer the ketores/ daily incense offering on the mizbei’ach haketores. (Hilchos Temidin U’Mussafin 4:7)
12.    No, only Kohanim who had never before offered the ketores could participate.  The ketores brought a blessing of wealth to those who offered it, thus they did not allow a Kohen to perform it more than once. (Yoma 26a).
13.    Nine Kohanim were chosen, in the same manner as in Q9.  The first 6 carried the various parts of the korban, and the last 3 carried the minchas nesachim, the chavitin loaves and the wine. All of these were carried from the lower part of the ramp up to the mizbei’ach, and then offered up in the proper manner. (Hilchos Temidin U’Mussafin 4:8).
14.    The Kohanim who were selected for the morning korban tamid did the same avodah in the afternoon as well, with the possible exception of the ketores offering. (See next answer)
15.    If there were Kohanim present who had never before offered the ketores, then a 5th lottery was held ben ha’arbayim/in the late afternoon for this honour.  If all those present had offered the ketores, then the Kohen who merited it in the morning/3rd lottery also offered it in the afternoon.  (Hil Temidin U’Mussafin 4:8) 

Sefer Avodah- Rambam- Arranged by- Rabbi Mordechai Yehuda Leib Zacks- Pub by- Mossad HaRav Kook 1977

Sefer Avodah- Rambam- With comments. Editor- Yockai Makbili- Pub- Mishne Torah Project & Machon HaMikdash-2012 
Avodas Hakorbanos- by Rav Aharon HaKohen (Kagan) Translation- Rabbi Moshe Weiss – Pub by-Artscroll 2020


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