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We are instructed to cover our thumbs during shmoneh esrei, havdalah and in the beit hamikdash as these would select the kohen to do the avodah. What is the significance of covering the thumb and are there other times where one must do so?

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"We are instructed": Source? –  Double AA May 2 '12 at 21:22
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Can you explain what you mean by "Cover our Thumbs?" How are the thumbs covered? -- pretend that you are explaining this practice to someone who has never heard of it. –  yydl May 2 '12 at 21:23
    
@DoubleAA rambam hilchos tfila I think. Although nobody paskens out of the rambam anyways. –  Hahu Gavra May 2 '12 at 22:17
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@HahuGavra: not there, but Mishnah Berurah 95:6 quotes Ramak as saying to do so during Shemoneh Esrei. –  Alex May 2 '12 at 22:31
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alef lamed, welcome to the site. I hope you stick around and enjoy it. I recommend you emend your question in light of DoubleAA's and yydl's comments above. Also, please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. –  msh210 May 2 '12 at 23:04
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2 Answers

In the selection of kohanim in the mikdash they used a lottery. The "no thumbs" rule seems to serve the practical purpose of not allowing confusion or deception when fingers of many people are held out to be chosen. If a kohen were to put out a thumb it could be placed far enough away from his other finger (assuming many people's hands were tightly packed) to make it look like it belonged to another person, effectively giving him two entries in the lottery and upping his chances unfairly over his coworkers'.

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What about shmonah esrei and havdoloh? –  Hahu Gavra May 3 '12 at 1:05
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Concerning covering the thumbs by havdala, the Magen Avraham 298:5 brings down the practice, sourcing the Zohar Vaykhel 208:1, and Pri Eitz Chaim shar shabbas chapter 24 Shar Hakavaanos regarding the procedure of what to do with ones hand during the bracha on fire at havdala.

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Not sure that this is an answer. It doesn't even contain the word 'thumb'. –  Double AA May 3 '12 at 5:19
    
I understand your point but the magen avrham brings down the source which I did, more I cant do since they are kabbalistic ideas which I am not fluent in. –  sam May 3 '12 at 5:22
    
I tried to clarify it somewhat. And don't feel left out; I am not a kabbalist either. –  Double AA May 3 '12 at 5:31
    
@DoubleAA Where is Mekubal??? –  Shmuel Brin May 3 '12 at 5:35
    
Thanks,maybe others are. –  sam May 3 '12 at 5:38
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