Aaron the Priest
Aaron the Priest
Priests have an important role in Judaism, and to this day there are laws and customs related to their role and special status. However, after the destruction of the Second Temple, the place of the priests was taken by the sages, and they were the ones who led the religious and community life. Therefore, it is interesting to see how the Jews of the Diaspora, at different times, chose to describe the priests, and especially the high priest.
The High Priest is a very important figure- he engaged in sacred work, was a spiritual leader and was like.... well, like ... the Pope! The Jews of many lands often described the figure of Aaron the Priest and of the High Priest in general, in a manner reminiscent of a bishop or pope. The Jews of Europe knew what priests and bishops looked like in the cities in which they lived, and equated their importance to the Christians with the importance of Aaron and the high priest in Judaism.
Aaron is often depicted with a bishop's hat, and on the opening page of the Bible from Germany from 1716, Aaron wears a hat that looks exactly like the special crown worn by the Pope. It is also possible that Aaron's portrayal as a bishop was intended to illustrate to Christians the importance of Aaron and the high priest for the Jews.
Moshe and Aharon, opening page for the Passover Haggadah
Vienna, Austria, 1749
Handwriting, ink, gold and watercolor on parchment
Gift of Nora Aviad, 1987
Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh, except from the Passover Haggadah
Moses Aaron and King David, title page for the Bible in two volumes
Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 1716
Printing on paper
The Miley Brothers Gift in Honor of Their Father Umberto Miley, 1992