|Positive Mitzvah Twenty-Three
Levitical Services in the Mikdash
Requires Beit HaMikdash
The Leviim are commanded that they alone are to perform certain services in the Temple, such as the closing of the gates, and the chanting during the offering of the sacrifices [offered on behalf of the whole community of Yisrael].1
The Sifre says:
The Sifre says:
Then nature of the service of the Leviim is explained in many places in Tamid and Middot; and in the 2nd chapter ofArakin it is explained that only the Leviim were to chant [in the Temple]. (Arakin 11a)
This Mitzvah appears again in another form:"He [i.e. the Levi] shall minister in the name of Hashem his G-d, as all his brethren the Leviim do" (Devarim 18:7) on which the second chapter of Arakin says: "What is ministering in the name of Hashem? It means chanting." (Arakin 11a)
All the Leviim in Yisrael were thus divided into two groups - those that attended only to the gates of the Temple, and those that performed the chanting at the services. It was forbidden for a Leviim of one group to do the work generally assigned to one of the other group(Arakin 11b).
The young Levi was not permitted to do any service in the Temple until he had gone through a 5 year period of initiation or preparation(Mishneh Torah, Avodah, Hilchot Kle Ha-Mikdash 3, 7).
Much attention was devoted by Jewish law to the chanting of the Leviim in the Temple. The Levi whose voice had lost its vigor or its sweetness was disqualified for this service. While the actual chanting was the duty of the Leviim themselves, the accompaniment on musical instruments might be done also by Kohanim and dignitaries of Yisrael(Arakin 10a).
1. I.e. the daily Burnt-offerings, the various Additional Offerings, and the Peace-offerings of the community on the Festival of Shevuot