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Acharei Mot: Klei Chemdah: Anointing the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur

The 6th of Nisan is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Meir Dan (ben Chaim Yitzchak Ber) Plotsky of Warsaw (1866-1928). At the age  of nine, Reb Meir Dan was sent to learn in the yeshiva of Rav Chaim Eliezer Wacks, the Nefesh Chayah, in Kalish. Shortly before his Bar Mitzvah, he became a talmid of Rav Avraham of Sochotchov, the Avnei Nezer, whom he considered his lifelong rebbi muvhak. He married at the age of 15 and spent the next 10 years in Dvohrt with his in-laws. In 1891, he became Rav in Dvohrt. Later he helped expose the forged Yerushalmi on Kodshim, claimed to be discovered by Shlomo Yehuda Friedlander, who also claimed he was a Sefardi named Shlomo Yehuda Algazi. At the age of 36, he published his work on the Sefer Hamitzvos of the Rambam, called Chemdas Yisrael. In 1918, he became Rav of Ostrov-Mozbaisk in eastern Poland. He was voted chairman of Agudas Harabbanim of Poland, a prelude to Agudas Israel. At the age of 60, he left rabbanus to head a large yeshiva in Warsaw, known simply as the Mesivta. Rav Meir Dan also authored Kli Chemda on Chumash and Chemdas Shlomo on Orach Chaim.


There are two ways that someone can rise to the position of Kohen Gadol; he can be anointed with the Shemen Hamishchah, and, as Rashi points out, after Yoshiyahu hid the oil, he was elevated to the position by dressing in the Garments of the Kohen Gadol.  There is a situation even when the oil is available that it will not be used: If the Kohen Gadol becomes impure on Yom Kippur and must be replaced by the emergency standby, the replacement will not be anointed with oil.

One of the reasons is, “Mishum eivah,” because it may cause the Kohen Gadol being replaced to resent the new person, and because it is Yom Kippur, we want to avoid any negative feelings.

The level of sensitivity we demonstrate is a lesson to all of us, especially as we approach Yom Kippur.

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