The Temple Institute: A Day in the Life of the Holy Temple: Which Priest Merits the Shovel of Coals?

Which Priest Merits the Shovel of Coals?

There is some question amongst the sages and commentators as to which priest merits the task of gathering coals for the inner altar. According to one opinion in the Talmud, this duty was not included in any lottery. Rather, says Rabbi Yehuda (BT Yoma 25:B), "the priest who has merited the incense service exclaims to the one who stands to his right at the time of the lottery:  You have merited along with me, the service of the shovel!'"

Maimonides, however, maintains that whoever won the privilege of the removing the ashes from the altar at dawn, also merited this service of the shovel as well (T'midim, 4:5).

In any event, this priest now takes the silver shovel up to the outer altar, as described above. When he descends with the coals, he transfers them into a golden shovel, and it is this one that he will take into the Sanctuary for the incense service.

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