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Tei•mân•i′  Practice of Auctioning Liturgical Segments

Early in the Shab•ât′  liturgy, between liturgical elements, the Tei•mân•im′  are unique in pausing to auction the liturgical elements among the congregants. Some are critical of this as an interruption in a prayer service. Others are prone to compare it to the money-changers, whose tables Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a overturned (The Nәtzârim Reconstruction of Hebrew Matityâhu (NHM) 21).

Historical Origins: Granting of Liturgical Duties to Ko•han•im′ 

"The lot was extensively used during the Second Temple Period, and particularly in the Temple itself in order to determine the allocation of duties among the priests… it was an arrangement of expediency arrived at through experience. "Originally whoever wished to clear the ashes from the altar did so. If they were many they used to run up the ramp and he that came first within four cubits to run up the ramp and he that came first within four cubits secured the privilege… It once happened that both reached the decisive point simultaneously; and one of them pushed the other, and he fell and broke his leg. When the [Beit-Din] saw that danger was involved they ordained that (the privilege of) clearing the altar should be done only by casting lots." (Ma•sëk′ ët Yom•â′  2.1-2). The [Mish′ nâh] goes on to detail the other three lots which were cast for the Temple service… the seconf for offering the incense and the third the carrying of the members of the sacrificial animal from the ramp to the altar (ibid., 3-4)." (Lots, Ency. Jud., 11.511).

It is well established that the entirety of modern Judaic liturgy is patterned to recall the liturgy of the Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′ .

Reason For Changing From Casting Lots

We even know why there was a change from casting lots: practices of the Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′  were limited to the Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′  and otherwise prohibited. This is why many practices recall, but do not imitate, the practices in the Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′ .

One of the debated prohibitions against replicating too closely the liturgy of the Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′  appears to be the casting of lots. While almost all of the Jewish community regards the result as divinely guided, at least one objection was voiced and found its way into the Shul•khân′  •rukh′ . "The [Tosaphists] apparently had a reading to the Siphrei Dәvârim 18.13: "From what do we learn that it is forbidden to enquire by casting lots? Since the Bible says Thou shalt be wholehearted with th Lord they God" (see Tos. Shab. 156a). The statement does not occur in the present editions of the [Siphrei]… Either the [Tosaphot] had a different reading, or, as appears probable, the deduction is based upon [Shәmu•eil′  Âl′ ëph] 14.41, where the word tamim ("wholehearted" in Dәvâr•im′  18.13) is taken to mean "lots" (see 14.42). Whatever the case may be, this statement has been incorporated in the Shul•khân′  •rukh′  (YD 179.1) in the laws against witchcraft." (Lots, Ency. Jud., 11.512-13).

Reason For Adopting Bidding Pledges To Charity

The parallel between the Tei•mân•i′  practice of auctioning various elements of the liturgy to the highest bidder and the practice in the Second Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′  of casting lots to determine which Ko•hein′  would have the privilege of officiating that element of the liturgy cannot be ignored.

The only outstanding question to be answered is how, subsequent to the destruction of the Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′ , did changing the method from casting lots morph into pledging charity?

Except for the Tei•mân•im′ , the divide in today's Jewish community between the lay 98%, who are unable to recite liturgy or Tor•âh′  in Beit ha-Kәnës′ ët, and the "professionals" who do it for them demonstrates a problem that (outside of the Tei•mân•im′ ) dates back to the Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′ : the laity was unlearned and didn't know how to conduct the liturgy nor recite Tor•âh′  according to proper cantillation. Consequently, an elite of "professionals" emerged to conduct liturgy and recite Tor•âh′ . For these, there was no decision about who would lead the liturgy or recite Tor•âh′ ; the "professionals" took care of it, relieving the lay individual of his Biblical responsibility.

Among the Tei•mân•im′ , by contrast, (until recently) every male, even children, knew how to lead the liturgy and recite Tor•âh′  according to the proper cantillation. Thus, it was only among the Tei•mân•im′  that the need persisted to assign liturgical tasks throughout the community, but without exactly replicating the practice of the Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′ .

Further, for the rare Tei•mân•i′  who didn't learn these things, the mechanism required that the delegation of liturgical tasks be done elegantly; without either embarrassing the unlearned or removing his "lot" from the community.

The paradigm of the voluntary vow, for example the Nâ•zir′ , is also taken from the practice of the Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′ . Moreover, changing it to the delegation of the array of liturgical functions, rather than the defunct Nâ•zir′  of the no-longer-existent Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′ , invited its adoption as the needed mechanism to assign liturgical functions among the Tei•mân•im′ .

It thus appears that, rather than an intrusion into a "prayer service" (after the model of the goy•im′ ), the pledging of charity in the Tei•mân•i′  auction delegates liturgical responsibilities mirroring, insofar as permissible, the practice of the Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′ . The auction of pledges for the privilege of conducting liturgical tasks should, therefore, be seen positively, bringing us closer in our recall of the liturgy of the Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′ .

Interestingly, the Tei•mân•im′ , who have most pristinely preserved the recall of the practice of the Ko•han•im′  in the Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′ , represent the nucleus of the " ֹ" of Shәm•ot′  19.6!!!

Pledging charity is a voluntary vow ordained in the Bible. Pledging charity for liturgical privilege is patterned after the Nâ•zir′ , Thanksgiving offerings, etc. in the Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′ . Supporting the Beit ha-Kәnës′ ët for the privilege of leading an element of the liturgy is charity. None of these have any parallel with lә-hav•dil′ , conducting business transactions of changing money for personal profit.

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