Avodah Service for Yom Kippur

God calls to us this day. We stand before God as one people. This day is given to us so that we may turn away from evil and death, and turn toward life and good.

In the words of the Prophet Hosea, Return, O Israel, to Adonai your God, for you have fallen away because of your sins. Return to Adonai with these words and say,

[congregation]

Remove our guilt and receive us with kindness

as we offer the service of our voices.

[For the combination of “Sanctuary with the Hebrew text, please see https://youtu.be/2W_XxCh2b30]

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary,

pure and holy, tried and true.

With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living

sanctuary for You.

וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם׃
וַאֲנַחְנוּ נְבָרֵךְ יָהּ מֵעַתָּה וְעַד־עוֹלָם׃

V’asu-li mikdash, v’shokhanti b’tokham.
Va’anakhnu n’vareikh Yah, mei-atah v’ad olam.

Let them build me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them.

And we shall praise God, now and forever.

[This section might be shared by two readers.]

We are together at the Temple mount. The High Priest has awakened in fear, because all the rituals of Yom Kippur must be carried out correctly, yet he is eager to perform his sacred duty. For seven days he has been in seclusion, studying the procedures and preparing himself spiritually. Now he is ready to begin making atonement for all of us.

At dawn he immerses himself in the mikveh. He will do this five times this day. He then puts on clean garments, trimmed with gold. He washes his hands and feet and begins the morning sacrifice.

When it is complete, he washes his hands and feet again. He will wash them ten times this day. He immerses himself in the mikveh and puts on white garments.

The ox that has been chosen is brought forward. He puts his hand on its head, feeling its warmth, and confesses his sins:

[congregation]

I have sinned, acted wickedly and rebelled against You, I and my household.

I beg of You, with Your Name, annul the sins, iniquities, and rebellions that I have sinned, acted wickedly, and rebelled against You, I and my household; as Your servant Moses taught us: “For on this day God will make atonement for you, to cleanse you from all your sins, before Adonai.”

When the other priests and all who are in the Temple courtyard hear him pronounce the letters yud-hay-vav-hay, the Divine name, they bow to the ground and cry out,

[The rabbi or a Kohen might lead the responses.]

בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד !

Barukh shem k’vod malkhuto l’olam va-ed!

Praised be God’s glorious Name, now and forever!

Now the High Priest walks to the eastern part of the Temple courtyard, where two goats, bought with communal funds, stand next to each other like twins. He has lots drawn, choosing one goat for God and the other for Azazel. He ties a thread of red wool on the head of the Azazel goat, feeling its soft fur and its warm breath.

He calls out: “A sin offering for Adonai.” Those who hear him respond

וּבֵרְכוּ אֶת הַשֵּׁם

U-veir’khu et ha-shem

And blessed be the Name

He returns to the ox, places his hand on its head again, and makes atonement not only for himself and his household, but for all the descendants of Aharon and their households:

I have sinned, acted wickedly and rebelled against You, I and my household and all the sons of Aharon. I beg of You, with Your Name, annul the sins, iniquities, and rebellions that I have sinned, acted wickedly, and rebelled against You, I and my household. As Your servant Moses taught us: “For on this day God will make atonement for you, to cleanse you from all your sins, before Adonai.”

Once again, when all those in the Temple courtyard hear him pronounce the letters yud-hay-vav-hay, the Divine name, they bow to the ground and cry out,

בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד !

Barukh shem k’vod malkhuto l’olam va-ed!

Praised be God’s glorious Name, now and forever!

Now he sacrifices the ox and collects some of its blood in a vessel that a young priest holds. The smell of the blood is sharp but he is accustomed to it. He takes a pan of coals from the altar and a ladle filled with fragrant incense. He approaches the Ark, places the incense between its handles, and burns it there. He takes the vessel of blood from the young priest and sprinkles it before the curtain of the Ark, once above and seven times below.

He sacrifices the goat that was chosen for God and sprinkles its blood before the curtain just as he sprinkled the blood of the ox. Next he mixes the blood of the ox and of the goat, sprinkling it seven times on the surface of the altar and four times on the corners to clear it of sin, so that the sacrifice may be accepted.

He takes the live goat, the goat chosen for Azazel, and confesses the intentional and unintentional sins of all the people of Israel:

I beg of you, Adonai, they have sinned, acted wickedly, and rebelled against You, Your people, the House of Israel. I beg of You, annul the sins, iniquities, and rebellions that were committed against You by Your people, the House of Israel. As Your servant Moses taught us: “For on this day God will make atonement for you, to cleanse you from all your sins, before Adonai.”

Yet again, when all those in the Temple courtyard hear him pronounce the letters yud-hay-vav-hay, the Divine name, they bow to the ground and cry out,

בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד !

Barukh shem k’vod malchuto l’olam va-ed!

Praised be God’s glorious Name, now and forever!

He hands the goat chosen for Azazel to a person appointed to take it out to the desert. It will carry the spiritual blemishes of all the people with it. Some say that it will be driven off the edge of a cliff. Others say that it will be set free in the wilderness.

Now the priest reads aloud from the Scroll of Torah:

[This reading might be given only in English.]

Leviticus 16:3–19

בְּזֹ֛את יָבֹ֥א אַהֲרֹ֖ן אֶל־הַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ בְּפַ֧ר בֶּן־בָּקָ֛ר לְחַטָּ֖את וְאַ֥יִל לְעֹלָֽה׃

כְּתֹֽנֶת־בַּ֨ד קֹ֜דֶשׁ יִלְבָּ֗שׁ וּמִֽכְנְסֵי־בַד֮ יִהְי֣וּ עַל־בְּשָׂרוֹ֒ וּבְאַבְנֵ֥ט בַּד֙ יַחְגֹּ֔ר וּבְמִצְנֶ֥פֶת בַּ֖ד יִצְנֹ֑ף בִּגְדֵי־קֹ֣דֶשׁ הֵ֔ם וְרָחַ֥ץ בַּמַּ֛יִם אֶת־בְּשָׂר֖וֹ וּלְבֵשָֽׁם׃

וּמֵאֵ֗ת עֲדַת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל יִקַּ֛ח שְׁנֵֽי־שְׂעִירֵ֥י עִזִּ֖ים לְחַטָּ֑את וְאַ֥יִל אֶחָ֖ד לְעֹלָֽה׃

וְהִקְרִ֧יב אַהֲרֹ֛ן אֶת־פַּ֥ר הַחַטָּ֖את אֲשֶׁר־ל֑וֹ וְכִפֶּ֥ר בַּעֲד֖וֹ וּבְעַ֥ד בֵּיתֽוֹ׃

וְלָקַ֖ח אֶת־שְׁנֵ֣י הַשְּׂעִירִ֑ם וְהֶעֱמִ֤יד אֹתָם֙ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֔ה פֶּ֖תַח אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵֽד׃

וְנָתַ֧ן אַהֲרֹ֛ן עַל־שְׁנֵ֥י הַשְּׂעִירִ֖ם גּוֹרָל֑וֹת גּוֹרָ֤ל אֶחָד֙ לַיהוָ֔ה וְגוֹרָ֥ל אֶחָ֖ד לַעֲזָאזֵֽל׃

וְהִקְרִ֤יב אַהֲרֹן֙ אֶת־הַשָּׂעִ֔יר אֲשֶׁ֨ר עָלָ֥ה עָלָ֛יו הַגּוֹרָ֖ל לַיהוָ֑ה וְעָשָׂ֖הוּ חַטָּֽאת׃

וְהַשָּׂעִ֗יר אֲשֶׁר֩ עָלָ֨ה עָלָ֤יו הַגּוֹרָל֙ לַעֲזָאזֵ֔ל יָֽעֳמַד־חַ֛י לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָ֖ה לְכַפֵּ֣ר עָלָ֑יו לְשַׁלַּ֥ח אֹת֛וֹ לַעֲזָאזֵ֖ל הַמִּדְבָּֽרָה׃

וְהִקְרִ֨יב אַהֲרֹ֜ן אֶת־פַּ֤ר הַֽחַטָּאת֙ אֲשֶׁר־ל֔וֹ וְכִפֶּ֥ר בַּֽעֲד֖וֹ וּבְעַ֣ד בֵּית֑וֹ וְשָׁחַ֛ט אֶת־פַּ֥ר הַֽחַטָּ֖את אֲשֶׁר־לֽוֹ׃ וְלָקַ֣ח מְלֹֽא־הַ֠מַּחְתָּה גַּֽחֲלֵי־אֵ֞שׁ מֵעַ֤ל הַמִּזְבֵּ֙חַ֙ מִלִּפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֔ה וּמְלֹ֣א חָפְנָ֔יו קְטֹ֥רֶת סַמִּ֖ים דַּקָּ֑ה וְהֵבִ֖יא מִבֵּ֥ית לַפָּרֹֽכֶת׃ וְנָתַ֧ן אֶֽת־הַקְּטֹ֛רֶת עַל־הָאֵ֖שׁ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֑ה וְכִסָּ֣ה ׀ עֲנַ֣ן הַקְּטֹ֗רֶת אֶת־הַכַּפֹּ֛רֶת אֲשֶׁ֥ר עַל־הָעֵד֖וּת וְלֹ֥א יָמֽוּת׃ וְלָקַח֙ מִדַּ֣ם הַפָּ֔ר וְהִזָּ֧ה בְאֶצְבָּע֛וֹ עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הַכַּפֹּ֖רֶת קֵ֑דְמָה וְלִפְנֵ֣י הַכַּפֹּ֗רֶת יַזֶּ֧ה שֶֽׁבַע־פְּעָמִ֛ים מִן־הַדָּ֖ם בְּאֶצְבָּעֽוֹ׃

וְשָׁחַ֞ט אֶת־שְׂעִ֤יר הַֽחַטָּאת֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לָעָ֔ם וְהֵבִיא֙ אֶת־דָּמ֔וֹ אֶל־מִבֵּ֖ית לַפָּרֹ֑כֶת וְעָשָׂ֣ה אֶת־דָּמ֗וֹ כַּאֲשֶׁ֤ר עָשָׂה֙ לְדַ֣ם הַפָּ֔ר וְהִזָּ֥ה אֹת֛וֹ עַל־הַכַּפֹּ֖רֶת וְלִפְנֵ֥י הַכַּפֹּֽרֶת׃

וְכִפֶּ֣ר עַל־הַקֹּ֗דֶשׁ מִטֻּמְאֹת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וּמִפִּשְׁעֵיהֶ֖ם לְכָל־חַטֹּאתָ֑ם וְכֵ֤ן יַעֲשֶׂה֙ לְאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד הַשֹּׁכֵ֣ן אִתָּ֔ם בְּת֖וֹךְ טֻמְאֹתָֽם׃ וְכָל־אָדָ֞ם לֹא־יִהְיֶ֣ה ׀ בְּאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֗ד בְּבֹא֛וֹ לְכַפֵּ֥ר בַּקֹּ֖דֶשׁ עַד־צֵאת֑וֹ וְכִפֶּ֤ר בַּעֲדוֹ֙ וּבְעַ֣ד בֵּית֔וֹ וּבְעַ֖ד כָּל־קְהַ֥ל יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

וְיָצָ֗א אֶל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֛חַ אֲשֶׁ֥ר לִפְנֵֽי־יְהוָ֖ה וְכִפֶּ֣ר עָלָ֑יו וְלָקַ֞ח מִדַּ֤ם הַפָּר֙ וּמִדַּ֣ם הַשָּׂעִ֔יר וְנָתַ֛ן עַל־קַרְנ֥וֹת הַמִּזְבֵּ֖חַ סָבִֽיב׃ וְהִזָּ֨ה עָלָ֧יו מִן־הַדָּ֛ם בְּאֶצְבָּע֖וֹ שֶׁ֣בַע פְּעָמִ֑ים וְטִהֲר֣וֹ וְקִדְּשׁ֔וֹ מִטֻּמְאֹ֖ת בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

This is how Aharon is to enter the Sanctuary: with a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall dress in a sacral linen tunic, with linen breeches next to his skin, and wear a linen sash and a linen turban. They are sacral vestments; he shall bathe his body in water before he puts them on.

From the people of Israel he shall accept two goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. Aharon is to offer his own bull of sin offering, to make expiation for himself and for his household.

Aharon shall take the two goats and let them stand before Adonai at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting; and he shall place lots upon the two goats, one for Adonai and the other for Azazel. Aharon shall bring forward the goat chosen by lot for Adonai, which he is to offer as a sin offering. The goat chosen by lot for Azazel shall be left standing alive before Adonai, to make expiation with it and to send it off to the wilderness for Azazel.

Aharon shall then offer his bull of sin offering, to make expiation for himself and his household. He shall slaughter his bull of sin offering, and take a panful of glowing coals scooped from the altar before Adonai and two handfuls of finely ground aromatic incense, and bring this behind the curtain.

He shall burn the incense on the fire before Adonai so that the cloud of its smoke screens the cover that is over the Ark of the Covenant, lest he die. He shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger over the cover on the east side, and in front of the cover he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.

He shall then slaughter the people’s goat of sin offering, bring its blood behind the curtain, and do the same with its blood as with the blood of the bull: he shall sprinkle it over the cover and in front of the cover. Thus he shall purge the Sanctuary of the uncleanness and transgression of the Israelites, whatever their sins; and he shall do the same for the Tent of Meeting, which abides with them in the midst of their uncleanness.

When he goes in to make expiation in the Holy of Holies, no one else is to be in the Tent of Meeting until he comes out. When he has made expiation for himself and his household, and for the whole congregation of Israel, he shall go out to the altar of Adonai and cleanse it: he shall take some of the blood of the bull and of the goat and apply it to each of the horns of the altar; and sprinkle the rest of the blood on it with his finger seven times. In this way he shall remove the uncleanness of the Israelites from it and consecrate it.

The High Priest now offers the Musaf sacrifice. He immerses himself in the mikveh, puts on the golden vestments, and washes again.

He is finally ready to offer the daily afternoon sacrifice, burn the afternoon incense, and light the Menorah. Then he washes his hands and feet once more: five immersions and ten washings in all.

He feels great joy. He announces that the service, the avodah, of Yom Kippur is complete.

All who hear cry out in happiness and rejoicing.

Those who harvested their crops in peace give thanks.

Those who carried the sheaves praise God.

The entire land rings with song.

[For “Ashrei” using the setting by Peri Smilow.]

אַשְׁרֵי יוֹשְׁבֵי בֵיתֶךָ,

עוֹד יְהַלְלוּךָ סֶּלָה׃

Ashrei yoshvei veitekha

Od y’hal’lukha selah

Happy are those who dwell in Your house

They shall sing Your praises forever

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