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Could a Kohen Gadol retire from his position?1

Despite being old and blind, Eli continued on as Kohen Gadol until his death. Could he have theoretically quit had he wanted to?


1 by choice, not by being forced out of the position because of another factor such as a psilah or an ousting.

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    Kohanim in general retired when their hands and feet started to tremble (Chullin 42b with Rashi). See also Rambam MT Biat haMikdash 7:12. Oct 9, 2020 at 12:21
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    Chabad writes "When a Kohen Gadol retired, became injured, or died, the Sanhedrin (the high Jewish court) would determine whether he had a son who was his equal in wisdom and fear of Heaven. If the son’s fear of Heaven measured up, he would be appointed even if he fell short in wisdom" and cites the Rambam Mishneh Torah, Klei Hamikdash 4:20 (but I don't see in the Rambam the notion of retiring).
    – rosends
    Oct 9, 2020 at 12:32
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    Even if he can decide he can't do the YK avodah anymore, I assume he'd still have the kedusha of kohen gadol (can't become tamei for relatives etc.)
    – Heshy
    Oct 9, 2020 at 13:03
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    Note that a kohen who temporarily replaces the kohen gadol cannot go back and become an ordinary kohen again. Thus we see that even if the kohen gadol retires, he still retains a greater degree of kedusha than a regular kohen. Oct 9, 2020 at 15:20
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    @Zarka that sounds like a sin. Even if it isn't, it almost certainly isn't in the ruach of halacha. I'm wondering if there can be a retirement that's acceptable halacha-wise without any other contributing factors, such as shaky hands or a psilah.
    – Harel13
    Oct 10, 2020 at 16:30

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