Kohen or cohen (or kohein; Hebrew: כֹּהֵן kohen, "priest", pl. כֹּהֲנִים kohanim, "priests") is the Hebrew word for "priest", used in reference to the Aaronic priesthood. Levitical priests or kohanim are traditionally believed and halakhically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the biblical Aaron (also Aharon), brother of Moses.
During the existence of the Temple in Jerusalem, kohanim performed the daily and holiday (Yom Tov) duties of sacrificial offerings. Today, kohanim retain a lesser though distinct status within Rabbinic and Karaite Judaism, and are bound by additional restrictions according to Orthodox Judaism.
In the Samaritan community, the kohanim have remained the primary religious leaders. Ethiopian Jewish religious leaders are sometimes called kahen, a form of the same word, but the position is not hereditary and their duties are more like those of rabbis than kohanim in most Jewish communities.
The noun kohen is used in the Torah to refer to priests, whether Jewish or pagan, such as the kohanim ("priests") of Baal (2 Kings 10:19) or Dagon, though Christian priests are referred to in Hebrew by the term komer (כומר). Kohanim can also refer to the Jewish nation as a whole, as in Exodus 19:6, part of the Parshath Yithro, where the whole of Israel is addressed as "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation". The word derives from a Semitic root common at least to the Central Semitic languages; the cognate Arabic word كاهن kāhin means "soothsayer, augur", or "priest".
Translations in the paraphrase of the Aramaic Targumic interpretations include "friend" in Targum Yonathan to 2 Kings 10:11, "master" in Targum to Amos 7:10, and "minister" in Mechilta to Parshah Jethro (Exodus 18:1–20:23). As a starkly different translation the title "worker" (Rashi on Exodus 29:30) and "servant" (Targum to Jeremiah 48:7), have been offered as a translation as well.
The status of priest kohen was conferred on Aaron, the brother of Moses, and his sons as an everlasting covenant or a covenant of salt. During the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and until the Holy Temple was built in Jerusalem, the priests performed their priestly service in the portable Tabernacle. (Numbers 1:47–54, Numbers 3:5–13, Numbers 3:44–51, Numbers 8:5–26) Their duties involved offering the daily and Jewish holiday sacrifices, and blessing the people in a Priestly Blessing, later also known as Nesiat Kapayim ("Raising of the hands").
When the Temple existed, most sacrifices and offerings could only be conducted by priests. Non-priest Levites (i.e. all those who descended from Levi, the son of Jacob, but not from Aaron) performed a variety of other Temple roles, including ritual slaughter of animals, song service by use of voice and musical instruments, and various tasks in assisting the priests in performing their service.
The Torah mentions Melchizedek king of Salem, identified by Rashi as being Shem the son of Noah, as a "priest" kohen to El Elyon (the supreme God) Genesis 14:18. The second is Potiphera, priest of Heliopolis, then Jethro, priest of Midian both pagan priests of their era.
When Esau sold the birthright of the first born to Jacob, Rashi explains that the priesthood was sold along with it, because by right the priesthood belongs to the first-born. Only when the first-born (along with the rest of Israel) sinned in the incident of the golden calf, the priesthood was given to the Tribe of Levi, which had not been tainted by this incident.
Moses was supposed to receive the priesthood along with the leadership of the Jewish people, but when he argued with God that he should not be the leader, God then chose Aaron as the recipient of the priesthood.
Aaron received the priesthood along with his children and any descendants that would be born subsequently. However, his grandson Phinehas had already been born, and did not receive the priesthood until he killed the prince of the Tribe of Simeon and the princess of the Midianites (Numbers 25:7–13). Thereafter, the priesthood has remained with the descendants of Aaron.
The Torah provides for specific vestments to be worn by the priests when they are ministering in the Tabernacle: "And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for dignity and for beauty" (Exodus 28:2). These garments are described in detail in Exodus 28, Exodus 39 and Leviticus 8. The high priest wore eight holy garments (bigdei kodesh). Of these, four were of the same type worn by all priests, and four were unique to the Kohen Gadol.
Those vestments which were common to all priests, were:
The vestments that were unique to the high priest were:
The high priest, like all priests, would minister barefoot when he was serving in the Temple. Like all of the priests, he had to immerse himself in the ritual bath before vesting and wash his hands and his feet before performing any sacred act. The Talmud teaches that neither the kohanim nor the Kohen Gadol were fit to minister unless they wore their priestly vestments: "While they are clothed in the priestly garments, they are clothed in the priesthood; but when they are not wearing the garments, the priesthood is not upon them" (B.Zevachim 17:B). It is further taught that just as the sacrifices facilitate an atonement for sin, so do the priestly garments (B.Zevachim 88b). The high priest had two sets of holy garments: the "golden garments" detailed above, and a set of white "linen garments" (bigdei ha-bad) which he wore only on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) (Leviticus 16:4). On that day, he would change his holy garments four times, beginning in the golden garments but changing into the Linen Garments for the two moments when he would enter the Holy of Holies (the first time to offer the blood of atonement and the incense, and the second time to retrieve the censer), and then change back again into the golden garments after each time. He would immerse in the ritual bath before each change of garments, washing his hands and his feet after removing the garments and again before putting the other set on. The linen garments were only four in number, those corresponding to the garments worn by all priests (undergarments, tunic, sash and turban), but made only of white linen, with no embroidery. They could be worn only once, new sets being made each year.
In every generation when the Temple was standing, one kohen would be singled out to perform the functions of the High Priest (Hebrew kohen gadol). His primary task was the Day of Atonement service. Another unique task of the high priest was the offering of a daily meal sacrifice; he also held the prerogative to supersede any priest and offer any offering he chose. Although the Torah retains a procedure to select a High Priest when needed, in the absence of the Temple in Jerusalem, there is no High Priest in Judaism today.
King David assigned each of the 24 priestly clans to a weekly watch (Heb. משמרת, mishmeret) during which its members were responsible for maintaining the schedule of offerings at the Temple in Jerusalem, in accordance with 1Chronicles 24:3–5. Prior to that time, the priestly courses numbered a mere eight. This newly instated a cycle of priestly courses, or priestly divisions, which repeated itself roughly twice each year.
When the First and Second Temples were built, the priests of Aaron’s lineage assumed these roles in the Temple in Jerusalem. Each of the 24 groups consisted of six priestly families, with each of the six serving one day of the week. On the Sabbath day, all six worked in tandem. According to later rabbinical interpretation, these 24 groups changed every Sabbath at the completion of the Mussaf service.. However, on the biblical festivals all 24 were present in the Temple for duty.
According to the Jerusalem Talmud (Ta‘anith 4:2 / 20a): “Four wards came up out of exile: Yedaiah, Harim, Pašḥūr and Immer. The prophets among them had made a stipulation with them, namely, that even if Jehoiariv should come up out of exile, the officiating ward that serves in the Temple at that time should not be rejected on his account, but rather, he is to become secondary unto them.”
Following the Temple's destruction at the end of the First Jewish Revolt and the displacement to the Galilee of the bulk of the remaining Jewish population in Judea at the end of the Bar Kochva Revolt, Jewish tradition in the Talmud and poems from the period record that the descendants of each priestly watch established a separate residential seat in towns and villages of the Galilee, and maintained this residential pattern for at least several centuries in anticipation of the reconstruction of the Temple and reinstitution of the cycle of priestly courses. Specifically, this kohanic settlement region stretched from the Beit Netofa Valley, through the Nazareth region to Arbel and the vicinity of Tiberias. In subsequent years, there was a custom of publicly recalling every Sabbath in the synagogues the courses of the priests, a practice that reinforced the prestige of the priests' lineage.
Professor Yosef Tobi, describing a stone inscription found in Yemen and which contains a partial list of the names (in Hebrew) of the twenty-four priestly courses and their places of residence, writes: "As for the probable strong spiritual attachment held by the Jews of Ḥimyar for the Land of Israel, this is also attested to by an inscription bearing the names of the miśmarōṯ (priestly wards), which was initially discovered in September 1970 by W. Müller and then, independently, by P. Grjaznevitch within a mosque in Bayt al-Ḥāḍir, a village situated near Tan‘im, east of Ṣanʻā’. This inscription has been published by several European scholars, but the seminal study was carried out by E.E. Urbach (1973), one of the most important scholars of rabbinic literature in the previous generation. It should be noted that the priestly wards were seen as one of the most distinctive elements in the collective memory of the Jewish people as a nation during the period of Roman and Byzantine rule in the Land of Israel following the destruction of the Second Temple, insofar as they came to symbolize Jewish worship within the Land.”
It is now uncertain when this stone inscription was first engraved, but certainly it dates back to a time near the Second Temple’s destruction. The complete list of sacerdotal names would normally have included twenty-four priestly wards. However, today, the stone inscription contains only a partial list of their names, with their former places of residence – beginning from the fourth ward, and ending with the fourteenth ward. This was because the stone had been partially broken away, as also part of which was hidden underground. This is the longest roster of names of this kind ever discovered unto this day:
|English Translation||Original Hebrew|
|[Se‘orim ‘Ayṯoh-lo], fourth ward||שְׂעוֹרִים עיתהלו משמר הרביעי|
|[Malkiah, Beṯ]-Lehem, the fif[th] ward||מַלְכִּיָּה בית לחם משמר החמשי|
|Miyamin, Yudfaṯ (Jotapata), the sixth ward||מִיָמִין יודפת משמר הששי|
|[Haqo]ṣ, ‘Ailebu, the seventh ward||הַקּוֹץ עילבו משמר השביעי|
|Aviah ‘Iddo, Kefar ‘Uzziel, the (eighth) ward||אֲבִיָּה עדו כפר עוזיאל משמר|
|the eighth (ward). Yešūa‘, Nišdaf-arbel||השמיני יֵשׁוּעַ נשדפארבל|
|the ninth ward||משמר התשיעי|
|Šekhaniyahu, ‘Avurah Cabūl, the t[enth] ward||שְׁכַנְיָה עבורה כבול משמר העשירי|
|Eliašīv, Cohen Qanah, the elev[enth] ward||אֶלְיָשִׁיב כהן קנה משמר אחד עשר|
|Yaqīm Pašḥūr, Ṣefaṯ (Safed), the twelfth[th] ward||יָקִים פַּשְׁחוּר צפת משמר שנים עשר|
|[Ḥū]ppah, Beṯ-Ma‘on, the (thirteenth) ward||חוּפָּה בית מעון משמר שלשה|
|the thirteenth (ward). Yešav’av, Ḥuṣpiṯ Šuḥīn||עשר יֶשֶׁבְאָב חוצפית שוחין|
|the fourteenth wa[rd]||משמר ארבע עשר|
Although kohanim may assume their duties once they reached physical maturity, the fraternity of kohanim generally would not allow young kohanim to begin service until they reached the age of twenty, and some opinions state that this age was thirty. There was no mandatory retirement age. Only when a kohen became physically infirm could he no longer serve. A kohen may become disqualified from performing his service for a host of reasons, including, but not limited to, Tumah, marital defilements, and physical blemishes. Of importance is that the kohen is never permanently disqualified from service but is permitted to return to his normal duties once the disqualification ceases.
The kohanim were compensated for their service to the nation and in the Temple through the twenty-four kohanic gifts. Of these 24 gifts, 10 are listed as to be given even outside the land of Israel. An example of the gifts given to the kohen in the Diaspora are most notably the five shekels of the Pidyon haben ceremony, and the giving of the foreleg, cheeks and abomasum from each Kosher-slaughtered animal.
Torah verses and rabbinical commentary to the Tanakh imply that the kohen has a unique leadership role amongst the nation of Israel. In addition to the well-known role of the kohen to officiate in the sacrificial activity in the Temple (the Korbanot), the kohen is presumed to have the responsibility of being knowledgeable in the laws and nuances of the Torah and to be able to give accurate instruction in those laws to the Jewish people.
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains this responsibility as not being the exclusive Torah instructors, but working in tandem with the rabbinic leaders of the era, while other rabbinic greats – notably the Chasam Sofer and Maharitz Chayes – acknowledged a unique assignment of torah instruction to the descendents of Aaron.
After the destruction of the Second Temple and the suspension of sacrificial offerings, the formal role of priests in sacrificial services came to an end temporarily (until the rebuilding of the temple once more). Kohanim, however, retain a formal and public ceremonial role in synagogue prayer services. Kohanim also have a limited number of other special duties and privileges in Jewish religious practice. These special roles have been maintained in Orthodox Judaism, and sometimes in Conservative Judaism. Reform Judaism does not afford any special status or recognition to kohanim.
Every Monday, Thursday and Shabbat in Orthodox synagogues (and many Conservative ones as well), a portion from the Torah is read aloud in the original Hebrew in front of the congregation. On weekdays, this reading is divided into three; it is customary to call a kohen for the first reading (aliyah), a Levite for the second reading, and a member of any other Tribe of Israel to the third reading. On Shabbat, the reading is divided into seven portions; a kohen is called for the first aliyah and a levite to the second, and a member of another tribe for the rest.
If a kohen is not present, it is customary in many communities for a levite to take the first aliyah "bimkom kohen" (in the place of a kohen) and an Israelite the second and succeeding ones. This custom is not required by halakha (Jewish law), however, and Israelites may be called up for all aliyot.
In the late 12th and early 13th century, Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg ruled that, in a community consisting entirely of kohanim, the prohibition on calling kohanim for anything but the first two and maftir aliyot creates a deadlock situation which should be resolved by calling women to the Torah for all the intermediate aliyot.
The Conservative Rabbinical Assembly's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS), consistent with the Conservative movement's general view of the role of kohanim, has ruled that the practice of calling a kohen to the first aliyah represents a custom rather than a law, and that accordingly, a Conservative rabbi is not obligated to follow it. As such, in some Conservative synagogues, this practice is not followed.
The kohanim participating in an Orthodox and some other styles of traditional Jewish prayer service also deliver the priestly blessing, during the repetition of the Shemoneh Esrei. They perform this service by standing and facing the crowd in the front of the congregation, with their arms held outwards and their hands and fingers in a specific formation, with a Jewish prayer shawl or Talit covering their heads and outstretched hands so that their fingers cannot be seen. Kohanim living in Israel and many Sephardic Jews living in areas outside Israel deliver the priestly blessing daily; Ashkenazi Jews living outside Israel deliver it only on Jewish holidays.
Outside the synagogue, the kohen leads the Pidyon Haben ceremony. This symbolic Redemption of the first-born son is based on the Torah commandment, "and you shall redeem all the firstborn of man among your sons".
Orthodox Judaism recognizes the rules as being in full force. Areas where Orthodox approaches may create different results include situations where a woman has been raped, kidnapped or held hostage, descendants of converts whose Judaism status turned out to be subject to doubt, ambiguous prior dating histories, and other potentially ambiguous or difficult situations.
A priest of Aaron's lineage (i.e. Kohen) is forbidden by the Mosaic Law (Torah) to marry a divorced woman even if she were a native Israelite. Likewise, a male descendant from Aaron's line is prohibited to marry a Jewish woman who has had intercourse with a non-Jew, whether she had been raped or she had willfully done so. So, too, he cannot marry a Jewish woman whose birth was by a father who is a Kohen but who violated one of these prohibitions. If he went ahead and did one of these three things, his male issue born from such union is no longer a priest (i.e. Kohen), but rather becomes a Ḥallal (Lev. 21:7, 14) - a term designating one who is no longer a priest, but profaned. A priest must maintain an untainted lineage, and his mother must be of Jewish birth. If he married a non-Jewish woman from the gentile nations, his children are no longer priests, but gentiles. Had a priest of Aaron's lineage transgressed this prohibition and married a divorced woman, and they had children together, all of his female issue - whether his, or his sons, or his grandchildren - would be prohibited from marrying into the priestly stock for all generations.
Rape poses an especially poignant problem. The pain experienced by the families of kohanim who were required to divorce their wives as the result of the rapes accompanying the capture of Jerusalem is alluded to in this Mishnah:
If a woman were imprisoned by non-Jews concerning money affairs, she is permitted to her husband, but if for some capital offense, she is forbidden to her husband. If a town were overcome by besieging troops, all women of priestly stock found in it are ineligible [to be married to priests or to remain married to priests], but if they had witnesses, even a slave, or even a bondswoman, these may be believed. But no man may be believed for himself. Rabbi Zechariah ben Hakatsab said, "By this Temple, her hand did not stir from my hand from the time the non-Jews entered Jerusalem until they went out." They said to him: No man may give evidence of himself.
The Israeli rabbinate will not perform a marriage halakhically forbidden to a kohen. For example, a kohen cannot legally marry a divorced or converted woman in the State of Israel, although a foreign marriage would be recognized.
Conservative Judaism has issued an emergency takanah (rabbinical edict) temporarily suspending the application of the rules in their entirety, on the grounds that the high intermarriage rate threatens the survival of Judaism, and hence that any marriage between Jews is welcomed. The takanah declares that the offspring of such marriages are to be regarded as kohanim. The movement allows a kohen to marry a convert or divorcee for these reasons:
Kohen was a status that traditionally referred to men, passed from father to son, although there were situations where a bat kohen, daughter of a kohen, enjoyed some special status. For example, the first-born son of a bat kohen, or the first-born son of a bat levi (the daughter of any levite) did not require the ritual of Pidyon HaBen.
In addition, females, although they did not serve in the Tabernacle or the Temple, were permitted to eat or benefit from some of the 24 kohanic gifts. However, if a kohen's daughter married a man from outside the kohanic line, she was no longer permitted to benefit from the kohanic gifts. Conversely, the daughter of a non-kohen who married a kohen took on the same rights as an unmarried daughter of a kohen.
Today, Orthodox and many Conservative rabbis maintain the position that only a man can act as a kohen, and that a daughter of a kohen is recognized as a bat kohen only in those very limited ways that have been identified in the past. Other Conservative rabbis, along with some Reform and Reconstructionist rabbis, are prepared to give equal kohen status to the daughter of a kohen.
Orthodox Judaism maintains that the privileges and status of kohanim stem primarily from their offerings and activities in the Temple. Accordingly, in Orthodox Judaism only men can perform the Priestly Blessing and receive the first aliyah during the public Torah reading, and women are generally not permitted to officiate in a Pidyon HaBen ceremony. However, the question of what acts (if any) a bat kohen can perform in an Orthodox context is a subject of current discussion and debate in some Orthodox circles.
Some women's prayer groups that practice under the halakhic guidance of non-Orthodox rabbis, and which conduct Torah readings for women only, have adapted a custom of calling a bat kohen for the first aliyah and a bat levi for the second.
Conservative Judaism, consistent with its view that sacrifices in the Temple will not be restored and in light of many congregations' commitment to gender (but not caste) egalitarianism, interprets the Talmudic relevant passages to permit elimination of most distinctions between male and female kohanim in congregations that retain traditional tribal roles while modifying traditional gender roles. The Conservative movement bases this leniency on the view that the privileges of the kohen come not from offering Temple offerings but solely from lineal sanctity, and that ceremonies like the Priestly Blessing should evolve from their Temple-based origins. (The argument for women's involvement in the Priestly Blessing acknowledges that only male kohanim could perform this ritual in the days of the Temple, but that the ceremony is no longer rooted in Temple practice; its association with the Temple was by rabbinic decree; and rabbis therefore have the authority to permit the practice to evolve from its Temple-based roots). As a result, some Conservative synagogues permit a bat kohen to perform the Priestly Blessing and the Pidyon HaBen ceremony, and to receive the first aliyah during the Torah reading.
The Conservative halakha committee in Israel has ruled that women do not receive such aliyot and cannot validly perform such functions (rabbi Robert Harris, 5748). Therefore, not all Conservative congregations or rabbis permit these roles for bnot kohanim (daughters of priests). Moreover, many egalitarian-oriented Conservative synagogues have abolished traditional tribal roles and do not perform ceremonies involving kohanim (such as the Priestly Blessing or calling a kohen to the first aliyah), and many traditionalist Conservative synagogues have retained traditional gender roles and do not permit women to perform these roles at all.
Because most Reform and Reconstructionist temples have abolished traditional tribal distinctions, roles, and identities on grounds of egalitarianism, a special status for a bat kohen has very little significance in these movements.
Since the Y chromosome is inherited only from one's father (women have no Y chromosome), all direct male lineages share a common haplotype. Therefore, testing was done across sectors of the Jewish and non-Jewish population to see if there was any commonality among their Y chromosomes. The initial research by Hammer, Skorecki, et al. was based on a limited study of 188 subjects, which identified a narrow set of genetic markers found in slightly more than 50% of Jews with a tradition of priestly descent and approximately 5% of Jews who did not believe themselves to be kohanim.
Over the succeeding decade, Hammer, Skorecki, and other researchers continued to collect genetic material from Jewish and non-Jewish populations around the world. The most recent results suggest that 46% of those who have a family tradition of Priestly descent belong to the Y-DNA haplogroup identified as J-P58, and that at least two-thirds of that 46% have very similar Y-DNA sequences indicating comparatively recent common ancestry. A further 14% of kohanim were found to belong to another lineage, in haplogroup J2a-M410. In contrast, the so-called Cohen Modal Haplotype (CMH), a characteristic Y chromosome haplotype earlier identified in a majority of men self-reporting as kohanim, is found in as much as 5% to 8% of Jews who have no family tradition of being kohanim, and only 1.5% were found to have the closest match to the most detailed sequence. Amongst non-Jews, the CMH can be found among non-Jewish Yemenites (>67.7%) and Jordanians (~7%), but none were found to most closely match the most detailed sequence. Thus, studies document certain distinctions among the Y chromosomes of kohanim, implying that a substantial proportion of kohanim share some common male ancestry.
Since the religious status of a kohen is contingent upon being the male biological descendant of Aaron in conjunction with numerous other variables that are not subject to genetic testing (the wife of a kohen cannot have had relations with a non-Jew, be a divorcee etc.) the possession of a common haplotype does not provide sufficient evidence to confer or maintain the religious status of a kohen, which depends on more than simple heredity. This loss of priestly status over time may account for the 1.5% of non-kohen Jews who very closely match the Y chromosome sequence that is most common amongst kohanim.
The status of kohen in Judaism has no necessary relationship to a person's surname. Though it is true that descendants of kohanim often bear surnames that reflect their genealogy, there are many families with the surname Cohen (or any number of variations) who are not kohanim nor even Jewish. Conversely, there are many kohanim who do not have Cohen as a surname.
There are numerous variations to the spelling of the surname Cohen. These are often corrupted by translation or transliteration into or from other languages, as exemplified below (not a complete list).
In contemporary Israel, "Moshe Cohen" is the equivalent of "John Smith" in English-speaking countries – i.e., proverbially the most common of names.
One common interpretation of the practice of having three pieces of matzah on a Seder plate is that they represent "Kohen, Levi and Yisrael" (i.e., the priests, the tribe of Levi, and all other Jewish people).
According to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, either "literal descendants of Aaron", or worthy Melchizedek priesthood holders have the legal right to constitute the Presiding Bishopric under the authority of the First Presidency (Section 68:16-20). To date, all men who have served on the Presiding Bishopric have been Melchizedek priesthood holders, and none have been publicly identified as descendants of Aaron. See also Mormonism and Judaism.
The positioning of the kohen's hands during the Priestly Blessing was Leonard Nimoy's inspiration for Mr. Spock's Vulcan salute in the original Star Trek television series. Nimoy, raised an Orthodox Jew (but not a kohen), used the salute when saying "Live long and prosper."
The Priestly Blessing was used by Leonard Cohen in his farewell blessing during "Whither Thou Goest", the closing song on his concerts. Leonard Cohen himself was from a kohen family. He also used the drawing of the Priestly Blessing as one of his logos.
In 1938, with the outbreak of violence that would come to be known as Kristallnacht, American Orthodox rabbi Mnachem HaKohen Risikoff wrote about the central role he saw for Priests and Levites in terms of Jewish and world responses, in worship, liturgy, and teshuva, repentance. In הכהנים והלוים HaKohanim vHaLeviim (1940) The Priests and the Levites, he stressed that members of these groups exist in the realm between history (below) and redemption (above), and must act in a unique way to help move others to prayer and action, and help bring an end to suffering. He wrote, "Today, we also are living through a time of flood, Not of water, but of blood, which burns and turns Jewish life into ruin. We are now drowning in a flood of blood...Through the Kohanim and Levi'im help will come to all Israel."
The tradition that 613 commandments (Hebrew: תרי"ג מצוות, taryag mitzvot, "613 mitzvot") is the number of mitzvot in the Torah, began in the 3rd century CE, when Rabbi Simlai mentioned it in a sermon that is recorded in Talmud Makkot 23b.Although there have been a lot of attempts to codify and enumerate the commandments contained in the Torah, the most traditional enumeration is Maimonides'. The 613 commandments include "positive commandments", to perform an act (mitzvot aseh), and "negative commandments", to abstain from certain acts (mitzvot lo taaseh). The negative commandments number 365, which coincides with the number of days in the solar year, and the positive commandments number 248, a number ascribed to the number of bones and main organs in the human body (Babylonian Talmud, Makkot 23b–24a). Though the number 613 is mentioned in the Talmud, its real significance increased in later medieval rabbinic literature, including many works listing or arranged by the mitzvot. Three types of negative commandments fall under the self-sacrificial principle yehareg ve'al ya'avor, meaning "One should let oneself be killed rather than violate it". These are murder, idolatry, and forbidden sexual relations.The 613 mitzvot have been divided also into three general categories: mishpatim; edot; and chukim. Mishpatim ("laws") include commandments that are deemed to be self-evident, such as not to murder and not to steal. Edot ("testimonies") commemorate important events in Jewish history. For example, the Shabbat is said to testify to the story that Hashem created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day and declared it holy. Chukim ("decrees") are commandments with no known rationale, and are perceived as pure manifestations of the Divine will.Many of the mitzvot cannot be observed now, following the destruction of the Second Temple, although they still retain religious significance. According to one standard reckoning, there are 77 positive and 194 negative commandments that can be observed today, of which there are 26 commands that apply only within the Land of Israel. Furthermore, there are some time-related commandments from which women are exempt (examples include shofar, sukkah, lulav, tzitzit and tefillin). Some depend on the special status of a person in Judaism (such as kohanim), while others apply only to men or only to women.Bat-Kohen
A bat-kohen or bat kohen (Hebrew: בת כהן) is the daughter of a Jewish priest, who holds a special status which is governed by special regulations in the Hebrew Bible and rabbinical texts.
In rabbinical literature the bat kohen is considered unique in comparison to the general population of the daughters of Israel. This uniqueness is believed to be displayed—among other attributes—by her inherent ability to cope with above average and even intense levels of spirituality (Kedusha). This ability is attributed to her being the offspring—and raised—by her father, a Kohen, whose life is purported to be dedicated to the spiritual maintenance and growth of the Jewish people and service of the God of Israel.The Mishnah and Talmud instruct that the bat kohen is to be scrupulous in matters of tzniut ("modesty"), thereby portraying the values of maintaining a life dedicated to holiness and her father's life-work, and also that the bat kohen marry a kohen.
The bat kohen is entitled to a number of rights and is encouraged to abide by specified requirements, for example, entitlement to consumption of the holy parts of sacrifices parts), lenient specifications in her preparations for immersion (J.Pesachim.1) and an above average monetary stipulation in her marriage contract. Also, the firstborn of a daughter of a Kohen or Levite is not redeemed at thirty days.Cohen (surname)
Cohen (Hebrew: כֹּהֵן, kōhēn, "priest") is a Jewish surname of biblical origins (see: Kohen). It is a very common Jewish surname, and the following information discusses only that origin.
Bearing the surname often (although not always) indicates that one's patrilineal ancestors were priests in the Temple of Jerusalem. A single such priest was known as a Kohen, and the hereditary caste descending from these priests is collectively known as the Kohanim. As multiple languages were acquired through the Jewish diaspora, the surname acquired dozens of variants. Not all persons with related surnames are kohanim, and not all kohanim have related surnames. In the Russian Empire, where Jewish males were required to undertake extended compulsory military service, there was an exemption for priests and some men are said to have claimed to be Kohanim to avoid being drafted.Some Kohanim have added a secondary appellation to their surname, so as to distinguish themselves from other Kohanim—such as Cohen-Scali of Morocco, who trace their lineage to Zadok, and Cohen-Maghari (Meguri) of Yemen, who trace their lineage to the first ward, Jehoiariv, in the division of twenty-four priestly wards.
Being a Kohen imposes some limitations: by Jewish law a Kohen may not marry a divorced woman, and may not marry a proselyte (someone who converted to Judaism). Nor should an observant Kohen come into contact with the dead or enter a cemetery.
An effort to trace whether people named 'Cohen' actually have a common genetic origin has been undertaken, using a genealogical DNA test associated with the Cohen Modal Haplotype.Dough offering
The dough offering (Hebrew mitzvat terumat challah Hebrew: מצוות תרומת חלה) is a positive commandment requiring the owner of a bread dough to give a part of the kneaded dough to a kohen (Jewish Priest). This commandment is one of the twenty-four kohanic gifts.The common modern practice in Orthodox Judaism is to burn the portion to be given the Kohen, although giving the challah to a Kohen for consumption is permitted - even encouraged - outside Israel (permitted with restrictions, see article below for detail).Foreleg, cheeks and maw
The gift of the foreleg, cheeks and maw (Hebrew: זְּרועַ לְּחָיַיִם וְקֵּיבָה) of a kosher-slaughtered animal to a kohen is a positive commandment in the Hebrew Bible. In Mishnah interpretation a continuing application of the commandment is identified both in the Land of Israel and among Jewish diaspora (Hullin, 10). Rabbi Yosef Karo in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 61:1, rules that after the slaughter of animal by a shochet (kosher slaughterer), he is obligated to separate the cuts of the foreleg, cheek and maw give them to a kohen freely, without the kohen paying or performing any service.High Priest of Israel
High priest (Hebrew: כהן גדול kohen gadol; with definite article הַכֹּהֵן הַגָּדוֹל ha'kohen ha'gadol, the high priest; Aramaic kahana rabba) was the title of the chief religious official of Judaism from the early post-Exilic times until the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE. Previously, in the Israelite religion including the time of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, other terms were used to designate the leading priests; however, as long as a king was in place, the supreme ecclesiastical authority lay with him. The official introduction of the term "high priest" went hand in hand with a greatly enhanced ritual and political significance bestowed upon the chief priest in the post-Exilic period, certainly from 411 BCE onward, after the religious transformations brought about by the Babylonian captivity and due to the lack of a Jewish king and kingdom.The high priests belonged to the Jewish priestly families that trace their paternal line back to Aaron, the first high priest of Israel in the Hebrew Bible and elder brother of Moses, through Zadok, a leading priest at the time of David and Solomon. This tradition came to an end in the 2nd century BCE during the rule of the Hasmoneans, when the position was occupied by other priestly families unrelated to Zadok.Isaac Alfasi
Isaac ben Jacob Alfasi ha-Cohen (1013–1103) (Hebrew: ר' יצחק אלפסי, Arabic: إسحاق الفاسي) - also known as the Alfasi or by his Hebrew acronym Rif (Rabbi Isaac al-Fasi), was an Algerian Talmudist and posek (decider in matters of halakha - Jewish law). He is best known for his work of halakha, the legal code Sefer Ha-halachot, considered the first fundamental work in halakhic literature. His name "Alfasi" means "of Fez" in Arabic, but opinions differ as to whether he ever lived in Fez.Ishmael ben Elisha ha-Kohen
For the 3rd-generation Tanna sage, see Rabbi Ishmael (ben Elisha). For the 3rd-century Tanna sage, see Ishmael ben Jose.Ishmael ben Elisha ha-Kohen (Hebrew: רבי ישמעאל בן אלישע כהן גדול, "Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha Kohen Gadol", lit. "Rabbi Ishmael ben (son of) Elisha [the] Kohen Gadol (High priest)"; sometimes in short Ishmael ha-Kohen, lit. "Ishmael the Priest") was one of the prominent leaders of the first generation of the Tannaim. His father served as Kohen Gadol in the Second Temple of Jerusalem as well. Ishmael ha-Kohen was also one of the Ten Martyrs, and was executed along with Shimon ben Gamliel.
The tomb of Ishmael ben Elisha ha-Kohen is located in the Druze village of Sajur in the Upper Galilee.Israel Meir Kagan
Israel Meir (HaKohen) Kagan (January 26, 1839 – September 15, 1933), known popularly as the Chofetz Chaim (Hebrew: חפץ חיים, Hafetz Chaim), was an influential rabbi of the Musar movement, a Halakhist, posek, and ethicist whose works continue to be widely influential in Jewish life.Ketubah
A ketubah (Hebrew: כְּתוּבָּה, "written thing"; pl. ketubot) is a special type of Jewish prenuptial agreement. It is considered an integral part of a traditional Jewish marriage, and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom, in relation to the bride. In modern practice, the ketubah has no agreed monetary value, and is never enforced, except in Israel.List of Case Closed episodes (seasons 1–15)
The Case Closed anime series, known as Meitantei Conan (名探偵コナン, lit. Great Detective Conan, officially translated as Detective Conan) in its original release in Japan, is based on the manga series of the same name by Gosho Aoyama. It was localized in English as Case Closed by Funimation due to unspecified legal problems. The anime is produced by TMS Entertainment and Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation with the chief directors being Kenji Kodama and Yasuichiro Yamamoto. The series follows the teenage detective Jimmy Kudo, who transforms into a child after being poisoned with APTX 4869 by the Black Organization. Now named Conan Edogawa and living with the Moores, Conan solves murders during his daily life as he awaits the day to defeat the Black Organization.
Case Closed premiered on January 8, 1996 on Nippon Television Network System in Japan and is currently ongoing. It has aired over 800 episodes in Japan making it the fifteenth longest running anime series. In 2010, Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation began making the episodes available for video on demand. The anime spun off theatrical films, two OVA series, and a TV special titled Lupin the 3rd vs Detective Conan; these spin offs were created with the same staff and cast as the anime series. The theme music supplier for the series was initially Universal Music Group, whom released the first two openings and ending theme songs, and is currently Being Incorporated.In 2003, the first 104 episodes were licensed by Funimation for distribution in North America under the name Case Closed where it debuted on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block on May 24, 2004; no more than 50 episodes were licensed from Funimation due to low ratings. The Canadian channel YTV picked up the Case Closed series and broadcast 22 episodes between April 7, 2006, and September 2, 2006, before taking it off the air. Funimation made the series available with the launch of the Funimation Channel in November 2005 and was temporary available on Colours TV during its syndication with the Funimation Channel. Funimation began streaming Case Closed episodes on their website in March 2013.A separate English adaptation of the series by Animax Asia premiered in the Philippines on January 18, 2006, under the name Detective Conan. Because Animax were unable to obtain further TV broadcast rights, their version comprised 52 episodes. The series continued with reruns until August 7, 2006, when it was removed from the station. Meitantei Conan has also been localized in other languages such as French, German, and Italian. As of 2018, the Detective Conan anime has been broadcast in 40 countries around the world.Although Cartoon Network stopped ordering episodes, Funimation continued to dub the series direct-to-DVD and episodes 1–4 and 53–83 were released on eleven DVD volumes released between August 24, 2004 and July 26, 2005. Funimation then redesigned its DVD volumes and episodes 1–52 were released in eight DVD volumes between February 21, 2006 and May 29, 2007. The series was later released in five seasonal DVD boxes between July 22, 2008 and May 12, 2009 containing 130 episodes in total. The seasonal boxes were then re-released as a part of Funimation's Viridian Edition line between July 14, 2009 and March 23, 2010. Then they were re-released as part of Funimation's Super Amazing Value Edition (S.A.V.E.) line on July 23, 2013.Pidyon haben
The pidyon haben (Hebrew: פדיון הבן) or redemption of the first-born son is a mitzvah in Judaism whereby a Jewish firstborn son is "redeemed" by use of silver coins from his birth-state of sanctity, i.e. from being predestined by his firstborn status to serve as a priest.
The redemption is attained by giving five silver coins to a Kohen (a patrilineal descendant of the priestly family of Aaron).Presumption of priestly descent
The presumption of priestly descent (or presumed kohen or status-quo kohen) in Judaism is the attribution to a kohen of equivalent position as if there was proven descent from the priestly family of Aaron. This is evidenced not by genealogical records but by de facto priestly behavior as defined in rabbinical halakhic texts.
In the Land of Israel it was the raising up of hands in the priestly benediction, and sharing heave offering at the threshing floor, whereas in Syria and Babylonia the raising up of hands constituted adequate grounds, but not sharing heave offering at the threshing floor as stated in the Jerusalem Talmud Ketubot 2:7 and other texts.The "presumed kohen" (kohen mukhzaq) (Hebrew: כהן מוחזק, from חזק) is a rabbinic title which legitimates kohen status to a kohen who—among multiple criteria—exhibits conduct exemplary of and is recognized by his peers and community as such.The tannaitic rabbi Jose ben Halafta extolled the soundness of the said "presumption" (chazakah) by calling it a basis for the entire halakhic concept of chazakah (B.Ketubot 24b). It is based on this presumption that all poskim agree, unanimously, to forbid presumptive kohanim from marrying a divorcee. Of note is that from among the opinions of the Acharonim, the mentioned presumption is given the title "a sound presumption".According to Maimonides, once he is established as a presumptive kohen it is a commandment to sanctify the kohen and assist him in abstaining from the prohibitions that apply to a kohen. Maimonides considered that presumption of the kohen is deemed valid and in good standing unless a valid objection to his lineage is made before a Beit Din.Prohibition of Kohen defilement by the dead
The prohibition of Kohen defilement to the dead is the commandment to a Jewish priest (kohen) not to come in direct contact with, or be in the same enclosed space as a dead body.Shabbatai HaKohen
Shabbatai ben Meir HaKohen (Hebrew: שבתי בן מאיר הכהן; 1621–1662) was a noted 17th century talmudist and halakhist. He became known as the Shakh, (Hebrew: ש"ך), which is an abbreviation of his most important work, Siftei Kohen (Hebrew: שפתי כהן) (literally Lips of the Priest), and his rulings were considered authoritative by later halakhists.Shidduch
The Shidduch (Hebrew: שִׁדּוּךְ, pl. shidduchim שִׁדּוּכִים, Aramaic שידוכין) is a system of matchmaking in which Jewish singles are introduced to one another in Orthodox Jewish communities for the purpose of marriage.Y-chromosomal Aaron
Y-chromosomal Aaron is the name given to the hypothesized most recent common ancestor of the majority of the patrilineal Jewish priestly caste known as Kohanim (singular "Kohen", also spelled "Cohen"). According to the Hebrew Bible, this ancestor was Aaron, the brother of Moses.
The original scientific research was based on the hypothesis that a majority of present-day Jewish Kohanim share a pattern of values for six Y-STR markers, which researchers named the Cohen Modal Haplotype (CMH).Subsequent research using twelve Y-STR markers indicated that about half of contemporary Jewish Kohanim shared Y-chromosomal J1 M267, (specifically haplogroup J-P58, also called J1c3), while other Kohanim share a different ancestry, including haplogroup J2a (J-M410).
Molecular phylogenetics research published in 2013 and 2016 for haplogroup J1 (J-M267) places the Y-chromosomal Aaron within subhaplogroup Z18271, age estimate 2638–3280 years Before Present (yBP).Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur (; Hebrew: יוֹם כִּיפּוּר, IPA: [ˈjom kiˈpuʁ], or יום הכיפורים), also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.