I was wondering if there is any discussion anywhere of the tumah complications that occurred when the Kohen Gadol died in the Kodesh Kodashim.

At an initial glance the issue one would need to worry about include:

  • "Masa". The Kohanim dragging the body out would become Tameh.

  • "Ohel". Anyone inside the Heichal and anything that was not connected to ground would immediately become Tameh.

  • "Sof Tumah Latzet". Anything in adjacent rooms would become Tameh. Possibly include the arch of the Azarah (it's the main exit)? What about all the trumah/hekdesh money in the Leshachot?

  • Kohanim are generally not allowed to become Tameh. Could Kohanim that were outside during the death be allowed to enter the Heichal? Cleaning is one of the exceptions, but you'll presumably already have a bunch of Tameh Kohanim inside.

  • What happens to the rest of the Yom Kippur service? Sure, we have a replacement Kohen Gadol, but they can't even enter the Heichal until the body is removed and all the tamei Keilim are cleansed or replaced?

Anyway, was wondering if there was any discussion anywhere of what the protocol might look like.

1 Answer 1


This is an interesting question for sure! Although I did not find anything that discusses the issue on it's own, I do have a few points that can possibly answer your questions mentioned.

Firstly, there is a מחלוקת if the כ"ג can even die in the ק"ק or only in the היכל. Here is the מהרש"א Yoma 19B in חידושי אגדות

רגל עגל כו'. כתב הריטב"א הקשו התוס' דהא כתיב וכל אדם לא יהיה באוהל מועד וגו' ודרשינן אפי' אותם שנאמר עליהם ודמות פניהם פני אדם ותירצו דשאני הכא שלא נעשה הקטורת כמצותה עכ"ל והוא דחוק אבל הנראה דלא קאמר דבכניסתו לקדשי קדשים ניגף מה"ט שלא היה רשות שם למלאך ליכנס שם לנוגפו אבל דקדק לומר דביציאתו מבית ק"ק ובא להיכל שם ניגף ע"י מלאך שאז היה רשות למלאך לבא לאהל מועד כדכתיב עד צאתו וז"ש כששמעו אחיו הכהנים בעזרה קול יוצא מהיכל נכנסו להיכל במקום שהותרו ליכנס ומצאו כף רגל כו' ותו לא מידי ובירושלמי מצאתי כמ"ש התוס':

Similarly, the יכין in יומא 5:1:22 seems to hold that it could only be in the היכל while the תיו"ט holds it could be in the ק"ק.

Another good source on this subject is found in the discussion about whether the common held assumption that the כ"ג had a string on his foot is accurate or not. See this article for a very interesting read on the subject


The article addresses the issue of משא and the כהנים getting טמא.

On the issue of the כלים getting טמא, the גמ' חגיגה says (26B) that there were replacements for everything handy;

כׇּל הַכֵּלִים שֶׁהָיוּ בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ יֵשׁ לָהֶם שְׁנִיִּים וּשְׁלִישִׁים שֶׁאִם נִטְמְאוּ הָרִאשׁוֹנִים יָבִיאוּ שְׁנִיִּים תַּחְתֵּיהֶן כׇּל הַכֵּלִים שֶׁהָיוּ בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ טְעוּנִין טְבִילָה חוּץ מִמִּזְבַּח הַזָּהָב וּמִזְבַּח הַנְּחֹשֶׁת מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן כַּקַּרְקַע דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן מְצוּפִּין:

The mishna continues: All the vessels that were in the Temple had second and third substitute vessels, so that if the first ones became impure they could bring the second ones in their place. All the vessels that were in the Temple required immersion after the Festival, apart from the golden altar and the bronze altar, because they are considered like the ground and therefore, like land itself, not susceptible to impurity. This is the statement of Rabbi Eliezer. And the Rabbis say: It is because they are coated.

In conclusion, while it definitely would be somewhat of a delay and require some extra work, it does not seem out of the realm of possibility, with most issues already covered in other areas of ש"ס.

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