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Ceremonial transfer of authority. In Hebrew, semikhah, or the “laying on” of hands. The Bible tells how Moses ordained Joshua by laying hands upon him, and thus transferring the leadership to him (Num. 27:22-23). In the time of the Second Temple, the members of the Sanhedrin, the judicial and legislative body, were also ordained. The Talmud requires two rabbis to be present when the master lays his hands upon the head of his pupil as a sign that he is now qualified to teach. Semikhah traditionally refers to rabbinic ordination.

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