That mishna’s teaching highlighting the prohibition to sleep in priestly vestments is needed for the latter clause of that mishna, which states: They remove their priestly vestments and fold them and place them under their heads. Since they are allowed to sleep on them, it must be emphasized that they may not sleep while wearing them.
The Gemara considers resolving the dilemma from the latter clause: They remove their priestly vestments and fold them and place them under their heads. The Gemara suggests: Learn from this that it is permitted to derive benefit from priestly vestments. Rav Pappa said: Do not say that the mishna means they may actually place the vestments under their heads as a pillow; rather, say that the mishna permits the vestments to be placed only next to their heads. Rav Mesharshiyya said: Given this understanding of that mishna, one can learn from here that one who places phylacteries to the side of his head when he sleeps has done well; there is no concern that he will turn over in his sleep and lie upon them.
So too, it is reasonable to say that the mishna permits the vestments to be placed only next to their heads and not under their heads; as, if it could enter your mind to say that the mishna permits the vestments to be placed under their heads, and I would derive that it is prohibited due to the fact the priestly vestments contain a forbidden mixture of diverse kinds, as among them there is the belt, which is woven from a mixture of wool and linen. And even if it is assumed that it is permitted to derive benefit from priestly vestments, it would still be prohibited to lie upon them because by doing so the priests would be deriving benefit from a garment made of diverse kinds.
The Gemara elaborates on the preceding argument: If one claims that the mishna permits priests to sleep upon their vestments, it works out well according to the one who said: The belt of the High Priest worn on Yom Kippur, which does not contain diverse kinds, is the same as the belt of a common priest. According to this view, the common priest’s belt does not contain diverse kinds, and therefore it may be permitted for a priest to sleep upon it. However, according to the one who said that the High Priest’s belt on Yom Kippur is not the same as the belt of a common priest, and that the belt of the common priest is made of diverse kinds, what is there to say? How could the mishna possibly permit priests to sleep upon their vestments?
And if you say that with regard to the prohibition of diverse kinds only wearing or placing the garment upon oneself is prohibited, but spreading them out and lying upon them on is permitted, and as such it should be permitted for the priests to sleep upon their vestments, this is incorrect. As, wasn’t it taught in a baraita that the verse states: “Neither shall there come upon you a garment of diverse kinds”(Leviticus 19:19), which implies: But you are permitted to spread it beneath you to lie upon. This is true according to Torah law, but the Sages said: It is prohibited to do so, lest a fiber wrap upon his flesh, which would lead to the transgression of the Torah prohibition.
And if you say that a priest could still avoid the prohibition of diverse kinds by placing a separation between himself and the belt containing diverse kinds, didn’t Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi say that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said in the name of the holy community in Jerusalem: Even if there are ten mattresses piled one atop the other and a garment of diverse kinds is placed underneath them all, it is prohibited to sleep upon them? This is because the rabbinic decree is applied equally to all cases irrespective of whether the original concern exists. Therefore, there can be no way for the priests to sleep upon the vestments without transgressing the prohibition of diverse kinds. Rather, must one not conclude from the preceding discussion that the mishna permits the vestments to be placed only next to their heads? The Gemara concludes: Learn from it that this is indeed so.
Rav Ashi said: Actually, the mishna may be understood as permitting the vestments to be placed under their heads. One should not object that by doing so the priests would be deriving benefit from a garment made of diverse kinds because priestly vestments, and specifically the belt, are stiff, and therefore the prohibition of diverse kinds does not apply to them. This is in accordance with that which Rav Huna, son of Rabbi Yehoshua, said: This stiff felt [namta], made of diverse kinds, that is produced in the city of Neresh, is permitted, since a stiff object does not wrap around the body to provide warmth, and therefore the person wearing is not considered to have derived benefit from it.
Since the mishna’s intention is uncertain, it cannot provide a clear proof for the dilemma of whether it is permitted to derive benefit from priestly vestments. The Gemara therefore suggests another proof: Come and hear an explicit baraita concerning this issue: With regard to priestly vestments, it is prohibited to go out to the country, i.e., outside the Temple, while wearing them, but in the Temple it is permitted for the priests to wear them, whether during the Temple service or not during the service, due to the fact that it is permitted to derive benefit from priestly vestments. Learn from this that it is indeed permitted.
§ The baraita taught that the priestly vestments may not be worn outside the Temple. The Gemara challenges this: Is it really not permitted to wear priestly vestments in the country? Wasn’t it taught in another baraita, in Megillat Ta’anit: The twenty-fifth of Tevet is known as the day of Mount Gerizim, which was established as a joyful day, and therefore eulogizing is not permitted.
What occurred on that date? It was on that day that the Samaritans [kutim] requested the House of our Lord from Alexander the Macedonian in order to destroy it, and he gave it to them, i.e., he gave them permission to destroy it. People came and informed the High Priest, Shimon HaTzaddik, of what had transpired. What did he do? He donned the priestly vestments and wrapped himself in the priestly vestments. And the nobles of the Jewish People were with him, with torches of fire in their hands. And all that night, these, the representatives of the Jewish people, approached from this side, and those, the armies of Alexander and the Samaritans, approached from that side, until dawn, when they finally saw one another.
When dawn arrived, Alexander said to the Samaritans: Who are these people coming to meet us? They said to him: These are the Jews who rebelled against you. When he reached Antipatris, the sun shone and the two camps met each other. When Alexander saw Shimon HaTzaddik, he descended from his chariot and bowed before him. His escorts said to him: Should an important king such as you bow to this Jew? He said to them: I do so because the image of this man’s face is victorious before me on my battlefields, i.e., when I fight I see his image going before me as a sign of victory, and therefore I know that he has supreme sanctity.
He said to the representatives of the Jewish people: Why have you come? They said to him: Is it possible that the Temple, the house in which we pray for you and for your kingdom not to be destroyed, gentiles will try to mislead you into destroying it, and we would remain silent and not tell you? He said to them: Who are these people who want to destroy it? The Jews said to him: They are these Samaritans who stand before you. He said to them: If so, they are delivered into your hands to deal with them as you please.
Immediately, they stabbed the Samaritans in their heels and hung them from their horses’ tails and continued to drag them over the thorns and thistles until they reached Mount Gerizim. When they arrived at Mount Gerizim, where the Samaritans had their temple, they plowed it over and seeded the area with leeks, a symbol of total destruction. This was just as they had sought to do to the House of our Lord. And they made that day a festival to celebrate the salvation of the Temple and the defeat of the Samaritans.
It is apparent from the baraita that Shimon HaTzaddik wore the priestly vestments even outside the Temple. This would seem to be in contravention of the ruling of the other baraita prohibiting this. The Gemara resolves the contradiction: If you wish, say Shimon HaTzaddik did not wear a set of genuine, sanctified priestly vestments; rather, he wore garments that were fitting to be priestly vestments in that they were made of the same material and design. And if you wish, say instead that he indeed wore a set of genuine priestly vestments, but in times of great need, such as when one seeks to prevent the destruction of the Temple, it is permitted to violate the halakha, as indicated by the verse: “It is time to act for the Lord, they have nullified your Torah” (Psalms 119:126).
§ It was taught in the mishna: The synagogue attendant takes a Torah scroll and gives it to the head of the synagogue, who gives it to the deputy High Priest, who gives it to the High Priest. The Gemara suggests: Learn from here that honor may be given to a student in the presence of the teacher. Although the High Priest is considered everyone’s teacher and master, honor was nevertheless extended to other individuals without fear of impugning the High Priest’s honor. Abaye said: A proof may not be adduced from here because the entire process is for the honor of the High Priest. The passing of the Torah scroll to people of increasing importance demonstrates that the High Priest is considered the most important of all those present.
§ It was further taught in the mishna: The High Priest stands and receives the scroll from the Deputy. By inference, until that point he had been sitting. But didn’t we learn in a mishna: