Talmidi Library

Articles on Talmidaism Theology

Priests, Scribes & Elders


The modern Talmidi community reflects the organisational structure of the ancient Israelite community. To ensure that no one person has a monopoly of power and influence, the functions of the community are overseen by a wide variety of people.


The following are considered meshartim (ministering servants of God and the community, singular – meshareit). Only priests, ministering Nazirites, elders and scribes who serve a synagogue are ordained:

Priest (kohein)

Any male descendent of Aaron. In the modern Talmidi community, they act as pastors, counsellors, teach on the ritual matters of Torah, and perform the ritual functions of the community (such as giving the priestly blessing).

Ministering Nazirite (nazir meshareit)

Performs the functions of a priest in the absence of, or as well as, a priest. Anyone taking on the role of a Nazirite needs to be aware that, in the absence of a Temple (the only place where the Nazirite vow can be terminated), for the time being the Nazirite vow is for life. 

Levite (l’vi)

Any member of the tribe of Levi, male or female. In the modern synagogue they mostly form the choir, singing and playing the liturgical music.

Scribe (sofeir)

A Scribe is someone who is consulted on matters of Torah for their advice. They teach and preach on matters of Torah and biblical learning. Only a scribe that serves a synagogue is ordained.

Sage (chakham)

A sage is a particularly learned and wise scribe, honoured for his or her wisdom and insight.

Pastoral Elder (zaqein mera`eih)

This type of elder has pastoral oversight of a group of congregants, and is distinct from a lay elder (see below).


The following are shotrim (lay officials or officers of the community)

President of the Synagogue (rosh ha-knesset)

This is the chairman or woman of the synagogue board.

Lay Elder (zaqein)

Any lay member of a community who has charge of organising the day to day running of the synagogue, finances, social groups etc. They form the majority of the board of a synagogue.

Praecentor (chazzan)

Leads the singing in a synagogue

Healer (merappei)

A healer counsels the mind, and medically treats the mind, soul and body as one; uses scientific as well as traditional Israelite methods of healing (marpei shleimut). Priests, nazirites and pastoral elders can take on some of the roles of a healer in the absence of a healer.

Gatekeeper (sho`ar)

The one in charge of the building and grounds, opening and locking the doors and gates.

Synagogue Assistant (netin ha-knesset)

Anyone who helps in the synagogue, such as cleaners and janitors. Originally these were bonded servants in the Temple who helped the Levites.