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High Priest’s Prayer

Rabbi Ari ShvatSivan 3, 5777
74
Question
I was wondering if someone could help me out. I am a Christian Pastor and saw a reference to the “High Priestly Prayer”. Was it common practice for the Jewish High Priest to pray on behalf of the people. Were there specific prayers that they would use for specific situations, like when they did sacrifices for atonement? If so, is there some place I could find these? Thank-You!
Answer
The High Priest had a short special prayer which he recited upon leaving his annual entry into the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), which was the climactic meeting of the ultimate holiness of man (High Priest of Israel), place (Jerusalem, capital of Israel) and time (Yom Kippur). His prayer (translated from Hebrew) was “May it be Your will, Hashem our God, that if this year is [potentially] hot, may it be rainy, and may the [ruling] scepter not leave the House of Judah [=David’s family], and that Your Nation of Israel should not need each-other’s help economically, and that the prayer of the traveler [=who asks that it not rain] not be accepted before You”. Please note that although it may sound surprising to the gentile, this special prayer does not ask for spirituality, or even existential needs, but for the national physical needs of Israel. Just as the blessing and the curse (Lev. 26 and Deut. 28 ) doesn’t mention heaven nor hell, but rather national prosperity in this world. The altruistic idea being that, in the words of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, “caring for my neighbor’s physical/economic well-being, is my spiritual well-being”.
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