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    The Mishna in
    Maseches Yoma (1:5)
    says that in
    preparation for the
    Yom Kippur Service,
    the elders of the Beis Din
    transferred the Kohen
    Gado lto the elders of the Kohanim, who
    brought him to the attic of the Chamber of
    Avtinas, where they made him take an oath.
    They made him swear in the Name of “the One
    who caused His Presence to dwell in this
    House” that he would not deviate in the
    slightest way from the prescribed order of the
    Yom Kippur Service, as taught to him by the
    elders of the Beis Din.
    The Mishna concludes that following
    administration of this oath, theKohen
    Gadolwould turn aside and cry (that he was
    suspected of being a Tzeduki (member of the
    Sadducee sect, who rejected the Oral Law) and
    not carrying out the directions of the Ziknei
    Beis Din) and the elders of the Kohanim would
    turn aside and cry (for having to suspect the
    Kohen Gadol of such a violation, inasmuch as
    the Talmud says elsewhere (Shabbat 97a) that
    someone who unjustly suspects a worthy
    person will receive corporal punishment).
    Throughout the period of the Second Beis
    HaMikdash, the Tzedukim promoted improper
    changes to halachic practices, including
    variations to the Yom Kippur service in the
    Bais Hamikdash. Unfortunately, there were
    many Kohanim Gedolim during portions of the
    Second Bais Hamikdash period who were
    adherents of the Tzeduki philosophy. Therefore,
    the Beis Din always needed to be on guard, lest
    the Kohen Gadol pull a fast one in the privacy
    of the Kodesh Kodoshim (where no one could
    observe his performance of the Yom Kippur
    ritual) and carry out the procedure there in
    accordance with Tzeduki interpretation.
    Inasmuch as even the Tzedukim were fearful of
    taking a false oath, this oath was used to
    preempt any attempt at corruption of Halacha,
    as proscribed by the BeisDin, which was under
    control of the Perushim (Pharisees) who
    accepted the Oral Law.
    The Rambam (Hilchos Avodas Yom
    HaKippurim 1:7) elaborates on this Mishna in
    Yoma, explaining that the Tzedukim, who
    denied the Oral Tradition of Chazal, went with
    the literal interpretation of the pesukim in
    Parshas Achrei Mos. For example, they said
    that the Yom Kippur Ketores-incense should be
    placed on coals outside the Kodesh Kodoshim,
    and the Kohen Gadol should only enter the
    Kodesh Hakodashim when the cloud of smoke
    was already ascending from the shovel
    containing the incense. The mesorah of Chazal
    is that the incense should only be placed on the
    coals “Lifnei Hashem” – within the confines of
    the Kodesh Kodoshim.
    When the Rambam describes the adjuration of
    the Kohen Gadol not to deviate from Chazal‘s
    prescribed procedure, he includes the fact that
    both the Kohen Gadol and those who adjured
    him turned aside to cry following the
    administration of the oath—he because he was
    suspected, and they because they feared they
    might be falsely suspecting a worthy person.
    The Rambam’s Mishna Torah is a Code of
    Jewish Law. It is not a history book. Why was
    it necessary for the Rambam to describe what

    (unfortunately) took place during the Second
    Bais Hamikdash era due to the concern of the
    Beis Din that Tzeduki philosophies might have
    infiltrated the practice of the Kohanim Gedolim
    of that era? May it be G-d’s Will that the third
    Bais Hamikdash will be rebuilt speedily in our
    day and we will re-institute the Yom Kippur
    Service according to halacha. There will not be
    any Tzedukim during the time of the Third Bais
    Hamikdash! Their existence was a historical
    phenomenon that occurred during the period of
    the Second Bais Hamikdash, which will never
    occur again. The Mishna needed to describe
    what happened because the Mishna was
    describing the entire order of Yom Kippur as it
    took place during the Second Bais Hamikdash
    period. But why does the Rambam need to
    mention the oath? Furthermore, why did the
    Rambam need to tell us that “they turned away
    crying”? Why do we need to know this fact,
    which has absolutely no practical halachic
    More to the point, there is a very interesting
    Mishna in Masechtas Derech Eretz (3:3). The
    Mishna there says that we should view every
    person as if he were a robber and yet honor him
    as if he were Rabban Gamliel. When a stranger
    comes into your house and you do not know
    who he is, you should honor him as if he were
    the great sage and Prince, Rabban Gamliel.
    Give him the royal treatment and five-star
    hospitality. And yet, you need to consider the
    possibility that he might be a thief.
    The Mishna relates that there was an incident
    involving Rabbi Yehoshua where a stranger
    came to his house. Rabbi Yehoshua fed the
    fellow and gave him drink and offered him the
    guest room on the second floor, in the attic. The
    guest went up the ladder to the guest room at
    night. Lo and behold, in the middle of the night
    he took a bag and started stealing all the
    silverware from upstairs. He wanted to make
    his midnight escape. He descended the ladder
    from the second floor to the first floor. However,
    Rabbi Yehoshua (following the above stated
    advice) had removed the ladder. The “guest”
    started climbing down and suddenly realized
    there was no ladder. He fell to the ground with
    a loud thud, and was caught red-handed with
    the silverware that he was trying to steal from
    his host.
    So we see that the Mishna strongly endorses
    this concept that if a person does not know
    about another person’s character, he should
    definitely be suspicious of him and—with all
    due respect—treat him cautiously and
    suspiciously. If so, what were the Ziknei Beis
    Din crying about? They had every right to
    administer this oath and be suspicious of the
    Kohen Gadol during the time of the Second
    Bais Hamikdash when Tzeduki heresy was
    widespread in Israel in general, and in the
    Priestly class in particular.Beis Din had an
    obligation to be suspicious! Many Rishonim
    ask on this Mishna in Yoma from the teaching
    in Maseches Derech Eretz: Why did they turn
    aside and cry?
    So, in addition to the questions why the
    Rambam mentioned the oath and why the
    Rambam mentioned the crying, we have a third
    question: Why in fact did they need to turn
    away and cry at all? They were doing what they
    were supposed to do!
    The Tolner Rebbe raises these questions and

    suggests the following answer, based on an
    important teaching from the Sefas Emes:
    The Gemara in Yoma (87b) relates that the
    Amora who we know as Rav was saying over a
    shiur in front of Rebbi. Rav Chiya walked in
    and Rav restarted his shiur. Bar Kappara then
    arrived, also late. Rav restarted his shiur a third
    time. Then Rav Shimon b’Rebi walked in, and
    Rav restarted his shiur a fourth time. Finally,
    Rabbi Chanina b’Reb Chama came in, and Rav
    finally had enough. He refused to start his shiur
    a fifth time, and just continued the shiur. The
    Gemara comments that Rabbi Chanina got
    upset that Rav did not show him the same
    courtesy that he had shown the other late
    The Gemara then relates that for the next
    thirteen years, Rav approached Rabbi Chanina
    each Erev Yom Kippur to ask for forgiveness.
    Rabbi Chanina refused to be mochel him. We
    are not going to get into why Rabbi Chanina
    was so upset and refused to forgive Rav, but
    those are the facts.
    The Sefas Emes asks, why did Rav need to ask
    for forgiveness in the first place? Rav was in
    the right! He could justifiably tell Rabbi
    Chanina, “How many times do I need to restart
    my shiur? You were late for shiur. You were
    very late because there were already three
    people ahead of you who were also late for
    shiur! Restarting for them was a midas
    chassidus. I am not obligated to repeat such a
    midas chassidus over and over again, troubling
    the entire audience for the sake of latecomers!”
    If someone is upset at you but you are 100%
    right, and this is not just your opinion, but you
    ask your Rav and you ask other people and they
    all tell you that you are 100% right, do you
    need to ask mechila? No! If you are right, you
    are right!
    The Sefas Emes answers with a very important
    principle: The entire year, if you are 100% in
    the right, you are not obligated to ask for
    forgiveness. But Yom Kippur is different! On
    Yom Kippur, you are obligated to ask for
    mechila even if you are right and the other
    person is wrong. Why is that? It is because we
    read in Tehillim (139:16) “…the days are
    created (yomim yutzaru) and not one of them
    (v’lo echad mei’hem).” There is a kri u’kesiv
    on this last phrase (v’lo echad mei’hem). Does
    the word v’lo end with an aleph (lamed aleph
    meaning no or not) or with a vov (lamed vov
    meaning him)? The kesiv (the way it is written)
    is with an aleph, meaning ‘and one of them’
    (one of the days created) is not it. The kri (the
    way it is read) is lo with a vov.
    The Tanna d’bei Eliyahu expounds: v’lo echad
    mei’hem is referring to Yom Kippur (the day
    which is not one of those other created days).
    There are 364 days plus one in the year. Yom
    Kippur is its own day. It is not a regular day.
    The Satan has no effect on us on this day. We
    are like Malachim on this day.
    The Sefas Emes interprets v’lo ecahd mei’hem
    as follows: Yom Kippur needs to be a day of
    achdus (Jewish unity). We come together as
    Klal Yisrael with the Ribono shel Olam and we
    need to come together as a people as one unit.
    Normally, when someone does something to
    you and you are in the right and he is 100%
    wrong, you do not need to be worried about it.
    However, on Yom Kippur you need to try to
    accomplish something else—you need to try to

    bring everyone together. Therefore, even
    though you are in the right, you need to try to
    appease this other person, to create national
    This explains why Rav only went to Rabbi
    Chanina on Erev Yom Kippur. Why didn’t Rav
    ask for mechila immediately after finishing the
    shiur? Why didn’t he wait a couple of days
    until Rabbi Chanina cooled off and then ask for
    mechila? Why did he always go Erev Yom
    Kippur? The answer is that Rav did not need to
    ask for forgiveness during the rest of the year
    because Rav was right and Rabbi Chanina was
    wrong. But on Erev Yom Kippur, the mission is
    to remove all “pirud“—the things that separate
    people. The mission is not to gain mechila, the
    mission is to create Shalom(peace).
    This now also explains why the Ziknei Beis
    Din turned away to cry after adjuring the
    Kohen Gadol. We saw in Maseches Derech
    Eretz that it is proper to be suspicious! What
    was wrong with suspecting him, such that they
    needed to cry about it? The answer is that they
    were aware that their action caused pirud—
    disunity—in Klal Yisrael. True, they did what
    they were supposed to do, but they knew that
    inevitably, their actions would cause resentment
    in the (conceivably totally virtuous)Kohen
    Gadol. They cried because of the inevitable
    dissension they were causing in Klal Yisrae lon
    Erev Yom HaKippurim.
    Finally, the Tolner Rebbe says, we can now
    understand why the Rambam wrote this entire
    story. Although the story of the oath and
    certainly their turning aside and crying will not
    be at all relevant, please G-d, during the time of
    the Third Beis HaMikdash, the Rambam is
    trying to teach us this lesson. The reason they
    cried is because their action caused dissension
    on Erev Yom Kippur, and any dissension is not
    good at that time.
    The lesson for all of us is that even though
    throughout the course of the year, we may have
    had issues with people—be it family, be it
    friends, be it neighbors, whoever it may be—
    even if we are 100% in the right, we need to try
    to make shalom in order to create this achdus.
    That is why it is important to know that “they
    turned aside and cried.” They did not turn aside
    and cry because they were wrong. They were
    doing exactly what they were supposed to do.
    But the fact is that they caused disunity, which
    we must try hard to avoid on Yom Kippur.
    Chazal say that on Yom Kippur we are like
    angels. Amongst angels, there is no jealousy
    and no competition. That is the type of spirit we
    need to try to foster. Let bygones be bygones.
    So many times, people think, “I am in the right.
    I don’t need to ask mechila. He needs to ask
    mechila!” True. That is in terms of the laws of
    Mechila and the laws of proper behavior
    between man and his fellow man. But Yom
    Kippur is a different day. V’lo Echad Mei’hem.
    It is a special day—a day that unifies Klal
    Yisrae lbefore the Ribono shel Olam and a day
    when Klal Yisraelneeds to come together as
    one people, without jealousy, without