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Rambam - Sefer HaMitzvos
As Divided for The Daily Learning Schedule

Negative Mitzvot 75, 76;
Positive Mitzvah 24;
Negative Mitzvot 69, 70, 71

  Day 154Day 156  

Introduction to Negative Mitzvot 75-78:

Impurity In The Temple Service

The Torah gives us specific definitions about the state of purity Tahara and impurity Tumah (See Positive Mitzvot 96 - 109).

The Negative Mitzvot 75 - 78 describe the situations where a priest is prohibited from carrying out his service in the Beit HaMikdash because he is ritually impure.

Negative Mitzvah 75: An impure Priest may not serve in the Sanctuary
Leviticus 22:2 "They shall separate themselves from the things which the children of Israel make holy to Me and they shall not profane My holy name"

The Torah defines certain situations in which all persons including priests may become impure, (see Introduction to Positive Mitzvah 74).

A priest who is impure is forbidden from serving in the Beit HaMikdash.

Negative Mitzvah 76: An impure Priest is prohibited from serving in the Sanctuary before he purifies himself entirely
Leviticus 21:6 "They shall not profane the name of their G-d"

The Torah gives us specific instructions on how to purify ourselves once we are impure.

One of the purification processes requires that the individual immerse himself in a "Mikvah" and then wait until sunset in order to become pure.

This person is known as a "Tevul Yom" - one who must wait until the sun sets in order to be pure.

This Negative Mitzvah cautions the priest who has become impure and who is a Tevul Yom not to omit any of the steps of purification before he returns to the Beit HaMikdash.

After immersing in the Mikvah, the priest must wait until sunset before returning to the Beit HaMikdash.

Positive Mitzvah 24: Sanctification of a Priest before Service
Exodus 30:19: "And Aaron and his sons will use it to wash their hands and feet"

Does your mother remind you to wash your hands when you come in from outside? Does she insist that they be rinsed when you're finished playing?

The priests serving in the Beit HaMikdash are commanded to wash their hands and feet (they worked barefoot) before taking part in the service.

This is an act of reverence and purification.

A large copper fountain stood in the courtyard, enabling them to fulfill this Mitzvah properly.

Today, we also serve HaShem in some ways that are comparable to the service in the Beit HaMikdash.

We, too, wash our hands (in a special way) in the morning, before eating, and in preparation for prayer.

Negative Mitzvah 69: A priest with a blemish is prohibited from entering specific areas in the Temple
Leviticus 21:23 "He shall not beyond the curtain, nor come near to the altar, because he has a blemish"

A priest who is a "Ba'al-Mum," is forbidden to enter specified areas within the Beit HaMikdash.

Negative Mitzvah 70: A priest with a blemish is prohibited from serving in the Temple
Leviticus 21:17 "Whoever is of your seed.... that has any blemish shall not approach to offer the bread of his G-d"

A priest who is a "Ba'al-Mum" is forbidden to participate in the service of the Beit HaMikdash.

Negative Mitzvah 71: A priest who has a temporary blemish may not offer sacrifices
Leviticus 21:18 "Any man that has a blemish, shall not approach"

A physical impairment may be temporary and will heal in time.

A priest who has this type of blemish is forbidden to offer sacrifices until the blemish disappears.

To serve G-d you need a healthy body as well as a healthy soul. How can you meditate, pray or study properly when the body's wellness is neglected? Taking care of your body so that the soul can flourish is a divine service.

From: Bringing Heaven Down to Earth by Tzvi Freeman -

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