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    Rabbis aren’t priests – Acharei Mot

    Chief Rabbi Solomon Hirschell

    In the days (1802-42) when Solomon Hirschell was chief rabbi of London the populace called him “High Priest of the Jews”. The title was an attempt to give him honour but it had an antisemitic tinge since the New Testament is highly critical of Jewish priests and high priests.

    Apart from this, only a Jew who is a kohen is a priest, and as far as I know Hirschell was not a kohen though his successors the Adlers were.

    But as a general rule, the roles of priests and rabbis are distinct. The priest officiates in the sanctuary: the rabbi is a scholar, teacher and judge. The traditional responsibility of the rabbi does not require him to conduct services though often the modern rabbi does play a liturgical role in the synagogue.

    The more important thing a rabbi can do for his community is to be the embodiment of a religious personality whose standards are an example to others.

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