The Cohanim were obliged to play a special role in the days of the Temple.  Apart from limitations on activities which made them ineligible for Temple service,  as described in the Sedra Emor, their other roles are listed in the Haftara of the day from Ezekiel.  They had to be teachers of what was kasher and not kasher.

In the words of Shlomo Riskin, the Cohen had to “probe the depths of what is pure and profane, entering into intellectual , moral and philosophical issues”.  The Cohanim were also expected to be judges in the manner of Aaron, the first high priest, who loved peace and pursued peace. They were responsible for ensuring the maintenance of Jewish tradition and, especially the sanctity of Shabbat and the festivals. Like the present day rabbi, the Cohen had to be multi-talented.

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