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YOMA (Aram. יוֹמָא), fifth tractate in the order Mo'ed, in the Mishnah, Tosefta, and Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds. In the Jerusalem Talmud, in manuscripts of the Mishnah and the Tosefta, and in the geonic literature, the tractate is given its Hebrew name, Yom ha-Kippurim ("Day of Atonement"), or briefly, Kippurim ("Atonement"). In the Babylonian Talmud, however, it was called Yoma ("the Day"), or Seder Yoma ("the Order of the Day"; cf. Yoma 1:3), and it may be that its early name was Seder Yom ha-Kippurim ("Order of the Day of Atonement"). Of the eight chapters contained in the Mishnah, only the last one deals with the laws of the fast. The first seven describe in a dramatic yet simple style the service of the high priest in the Temple in the order of its performance. This part of the Mishnah does not contain many differences of opinion, and it is distinguished by its uniformity and the continuity in its exposition of the high priest's service, with only a few interruptions regarding incidental details.

There are considerable parallels in the contents of tractates Yoma and *Tamid – some even verbatim – although each tractate gives details not found in the other. The statement of Johanan, "Who taught Yoma? Simeon of *Mizpah" (Yoma 14b), is not to be regarded as tradition, since its purpose was merely to resolve a contradiction between the two tractates. All that Johanan wishes to convey is that those halakhot of the daily sacrifice which appear in Yoma and differ from those in Tamid were taught by Simeon of Mizpah, who lived in the generation before the destruction of the Temple. At any rate, it is evident that the Mishnah has preserved halakhot which belong to an early period, and it follows that the tractate was composed early. Apparently they had already begun to teach and arrange the halakhot of the service of the Day of Atonement close to the destruction, but the editor of the Mishnah had before him a source (apparently from the generation before his) in which the early material was intermingled with later additions. The second part of the Mishnah – chapter 8 – is a composite of various sources. The Mishnah concludes with the declaration of R. Akiva, "Happy are you, Israel! Who is it before whom you are cleansed, and who is it that cleanses you? Your Father who is in Heaven." The glowing terms in which this is expressed is possibly a polemic against the Christian belief in cleansing through Jesus.

The Tosefta of Yoma consists of four chapters (though one manuscript has five, the second chapter being divided into two), of which the Tosefta chapter 4 is parallel to chapter 8 of the Mishnah, and Tosefta chapters 1–3 correspond with 1–7 of the Mishnah. However, the nature of the first part of the Tosefta differs completely from that of the Mishnah. Not only does the Tosefta not contain a continuous description of the order of the service, but it is quite impossible to understand the Tosefta without the Mishnah. The editor of the Tosefta made use of various sources, many of which contained only short beraitot that revolve around and are dependent on the Mishnah, such as those opening with the interrogatives "why" (1:1, 4, 8), "how" (1:5), or "which" (1:9). This portion also contains halakhot that are parallel to, or add to, the Mishnah, but has only a few sources that contain material not found, in whole or in part, in the Mishnah (e.g., 1:17–19; 2:5–8). On the other hand it contains many aggadot and examples which preserve important historical traditions about personalities and events of the Temple period (1:4; 6, 12, 14, 21, 22, et al.). The end of Tosefta *Shekalim (3:25–27) is apparently the beginning of Tosefta Yoma, omitted from it by copyists in error and appended to Shekalim. In contrast to the dependence of the first part of the Tosefta upon the Mishnah, the independence of its last chapter is conspicuous. It contains many sources which are almost entirely independent of the Mishnah, and the order of its halakhot differs from that of the last chapter of the Mishnah.

Yoma includes a number of beautiful aggadic passages. In the first chapter there is the well-known one: "Why was the first Temple destroyed? Because of the prevalence of three evils: idolatry, immorality, and bloodshed… But why was the Second Temple destroyed, seeing that the people occupied themselves with the Torah and its precepts and practiced benevolence? Because of the prevalence of hatred without cause. Thus you may learn that groundless hatred is of equal gravity to the three sins of idolatry, immorality and bloodshed" (9b). In chapter 7, on the verse (Ex. 25:11) "Within and without shalt thou overlay" (the ark with gold), Rava scholar" (72b), R. Meir used to say, "Great is repentance, for on account of an individual who repents, the sins of all the world are forgiven" (86b).

It was translated into English by I. Epstein in the Soncino edition of the Talmud (1938).


N. Krochmal, Moreh Nevukhei ha-Zeman, ed. by S. Dawidowicz (19612), 224f.; H. Albeck, Shishah Sidrei Mishnah, Mo'ed (1952), 215–21; idem, Mavo la-Mishnah (1959), 71f., 85f.; Epstein, Tanna'im, 36f.; D. Hoffmann, Die erste Mischna und die Controversen der Tannaïm, 18 (in: Jahresbericht des Rabbiner-Seminars zu Berlin pro 5642 (1881–82).

[Moshe David Herr]