May 16, 2012
Rabbi Gershon Avtzon in #834, Kohen Gadol, Moshiach & Geula

Who’s Who in the Times of Moshiach • Part V • The Rebbe asks: How could 85 Kohanim reach this high level of spiritual Kohen Gadol and not be jealous of each other? • In the times of Moshiach, will there be more than one Kohen Gadol?

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh,

In our previous article we discussed and explained the roles of previous Jewish leaders and kings in the times of Yemos HaMoshiach. In this week’s article we will be addressing a follow-up question:


At first glance it would seem obvious the Aharon HaKohen will serve as Kohen Gadol. He was the first Kohen Gadol and the most privileged one as well. While throughout the generations, the Kohen Gadol was only allowed into the Kodesh HaKadashim once a year on Yom Kippur, Aharon was allowed to enter whenever he wanted (Midrash VaYikra 21:7).

This seemingly obvious conclusion – that Aharon will resume his position – is also apparent from the Gemara. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 90b) writes: “How is resurrection derived from the Torah? As it is written, ‘And you shall give thereof G-d’s heave offering to Aaron the priest.’ But would Aaron live for ever – he did not even enter Eretz Yisroel – that Truma should be given him? But it teaches that he will be resurrected, and the B’nei Yisroel will give him Truma. Thus, resurrection is derived from the Torah.” [See also Sifri BaMidbar 11:16 Piska 92.]

Yet, we find other opinions. In the book of the prophet Yechezkel (43:18-27) we find the following prophecy: “And you shall give it to the priests, the Levites, who are of the seed of Tzaddok, who are near to Me, says the L-rd G-d, to serve Me, a young bull for a sin-offering. And you shall take of its blood and place it on its four horns and on the four corners of the upper edge and to the border around and you shall purify it and make it fit for atonement. And you shall take the bull of the sin-offering, and he shall burn it at the end of the House, outside the Sanctuary. And on the second day you shall offer a he-goat without blemish for a sin offering, and they shall purify the altar as they purified it with the bull. When you have completed the purification, you shall bring near a young bull without a blemish and a ram without blemish from the flock. And you shall offer them before the L-rd, and the priests shall cast salt upon them, and offer them up to G-d as a burnt offering. For seven days shall you make a he-goat for a sin-offering every day, and a young bull and a ram from the flock without blemish shall they make. For seven days shall they effect atonement for the altar, and purify it and dedicate it. And when they have completed the days, then it shall be that on the eighth day and thenceforth, the priests shall make your burnt offerings and your peace-offerings on the altar, and I will accept you with satisfaction, says the L-rd G-d.”

Many commentaries question: Why would Hashem teach all these rituals to Yechezkel? The Radak explains: This is because Yechezkel will be the active Kohen Gadol when Moshiach comes!

So, which one will it be? The Lev Chaim (Chapter 32) explains that in the times of Moshiach, both Yechezkel and Aharon will be the Kohanim G’dolim.

But this leads us to a stronger question: The Rambam rules (Klei HaMikdash 4:15): “Two High Priests should not be initiated together.”

The reason for this ruling is found in the Yerushalmi (Sanhedrin 10:2) which states that the jealousy that comes from having two people appointed to the position of Kohen Gadol militates against appointing multiple Kohanim G’dolim. If so, how can that change in Yemos HaMoshiach?


I saw a fascinating explanation in the seifer Yemos HaMoshiach B’halacha (Volume 2, Chapter 24:2) written by Rabbi Avraham Gerlitzky. He answers the question based on an explanation of the Rebbe in Likkutei Sichos (Vol. 31 Parshas Tetzaveh). The Rebbe asks a question on the following statement of the Rambam (Ibid 10:13): “The statements found in the words of the prophets that the 85 priests would wear an ephod of linen do not imply that these were High Priests. For the High Priest’s ephod was not of linen [alone]. For the Levites would also wear such a garment, for the prophet Shmuel was a Levite, and [Shmuel I 2:18] describes him as ‘a youth, girded with a linen ephod.’ Instead, this ephod was worn by the students of the prophets and those who were fit to have the Holy Spirit rest upon them to make it known that such a person reached a rung equivalent to that of the High Priest who speaks with the Holy Spirit via the medium of the ephod and the breastplate.”

The Rebbe asks: How could 85 Kohanim reach this high level of spiritual Kohen Gadol and not be jealous of each other? The answer is simple: A prophet who reaches the level of Kohen Gadol through preparation will not be jealous of his friend.

The same should apply to the times of Moshiach. The Rambam (Malachim 12:5) describes the era of Moshiach: “In that era, there will be neither famine or war, envy or competition, for good will flow in abundance and all the delights will be freely available as dust. The occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G-d. Therefore, the Jews will be great sages and know the hidden matters, grasping the knowledge of their Creator according to the full extent of human potential, as Isaiah 11:9 states: ‘The world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the ocean bed.’”

Accordingly, it only makes sense that this rule prohibiting two Kohanim G’dolim (which was created by our sages so that there should not be any jealousy) would not apply in Yemos HaMoshiach.

It is interesting to note that the Tzemach Tzedek writes (Ohr HaTorah, Shmos Volume 5 pg. 586): It seems from the Arizal that in the times of Moshiach Moshe Rabbeinu will be the Kohen Gadol.

I would like to finish with the words of the Rebbe (B’Haalos’cha 5751): “All this receives greater emphasis in recent generations, described as ‘in the heels of’ and as ‘the heels of the heels of Moshiach,’ particularly in this generation, the last generation of exile… Only the heel of the foot, i.e. the absolute last generation, has the ability to ‘rise on its own’ and elevate all previous generations, because the last generation of exile will be the first generation of Redemption – the Redemption for all Jews throughout all generations!

“In particular, the shepherd Aharon HaKohen of our generation, my sainted father-in-law the Rebbe, the leader of our generation… has emphasized this through his ‘invocation’ of ‘Immediate T’shuva, immediate Redemption,’ and the announcement that we only have to ‘polish the buttons,’ and then afterwards the declaration that this too has already ended, and it only requires us to ‘stand prepared all of you’ to greet our righteous Moshiach in the true and complete Redemption.”

Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at Weekly shiurim on Moshiach topics given by Rabbi Avtzon can be viewed at


Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (
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