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What gifts were given by the Israelites to the Kohanim and Levites?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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“The Levitic Kohanim, the entire tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel… the L-rd is his inheritance.”1

The Tribe of Levi did not receive a portion in the Land of Israel. Instead, 48 cities interspersed throughout the portions of the other tribes were allocated for their use. Thus they weren’t involved in agriculture like the rest of the nation. In exchange for the holy duties which they discharged, G-d awarded the Levites the “First Tithe”-a tenth of all grain and fruit crops and the Kohanim were entitled to 24 gratuities:

G-d awarded the Levites the “First Tithe”-a tenth of all grain and fruit crops and the Kohanim were entitled to 24 gratuities
The flesh of (1) an animal or (2) bird brought as a sin-offering, (3) guilt-offering, (4) “uncertain” guilt offering, and the (5) communal peace offerings. The (6) olive oil offering of a metzora, the (7) two loaves of bread brought on Shavuot, the (8) weekly Showbreads, and the remainder of (9) all flour and bread offerings and the (10) Omer offering. The (11) firstborn of any domestic Kosher animal, the (12) bikurim (first fruits), (13) select organs of certain sacrifices, and the (14) hides of certain offerings. (15) Terumah (a small portion of the harvest), (16) terumat ma'aser (a tenth of the Levite’s tithe), (17) Challah (a portion of dough), (18) the first shearings, and (19) the right front leg, jaw, and the stomach of slaughtered domestic animals. The (20) five shekels for the redemption of a firstborn Israelite son, and the (21) sheep used to redeem a firstborn donkey. A (22) property or possession dedicated to the Kohanim, (23) inherited fields that were dedicated to the Temple and not reclaimed before the Jubilee year, and (24) the theft repayment to a convert who has died, leaving no heirs.

Footnotes

  • 1. Deuteronomy 18:1-2.

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Mitzvot » Holy Temple Mitzvot
History » The Holy Temples » Holy Temple Mitzvot
Jewish Identity » Kohains and Levites » The Holy Tribe

Levite
A descendant of Levi, son of Jacob. The Levites were the teachers and spiritual leaders in the Land of Israel. They had various responsibilities in the Holy Temple, including choir and orchestral duties.
Kosher
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
Kohanim
Plural form of Kohain. Priests of G-d. This title belongs to the male descendants of Aaron, brother of Moses. The primary function of the Kohain was to serve in the Holy Temple. Today the Kohain is still revered and it is his function to recite the Priestly Blessings on certain occasions.
Shavuot
Early summer festival marking the day when the Jews received the Torah at Mount Sinai in the year 2448 (1312 BCE).
Omer
Starting from the second day of Passover, we count forty-nine days. The fiftieth day is the holiday of Shavuot. This is called the “Counting of the Omer” because on the second day of Passover the barley “Omer” offering was offered in the Holy Temple, and we count forty-nine days from this offering. [Literally, "Omer" is a certain weight measure; the required amount of barley for this sacrifice.]
Challah
A loaf of bread. Usually refers to: 1) The section of dough separated and given to the priest (today that section is burnt). 2) The sweetened, soft bread customarily consumed at the Sabbath meals.
Temple
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
Levi
1. Name of Patriarch Jacob's third son. 2. A Levite -- a Jew who is a patrilineal descendant of Levi. Levites had special duties in the Holy Temple, and are still accorded special respect.
Terumah
The tithe given to the priest (descendant of Aaron) from certain crops. The tithe was approximately 2% of the harvest.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.