Shevet Levi (the tribe of Levi) is the tribe designated to work in the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) and teach the nation Torah. The Levi’im (Levites) have three jobs in the Mikdash (Temple):
- They are the guards in twenty-one locations surrounding the Mikdash
- They are in charge of opening and closing the gates
- They sing during the sacrificing of the Korbanot Tzibur (collective offerings), and during the Nisuch HaMayim (water libation) on the holiday of Sukkot (Feast of the Booths).
During the period of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), the Levi’im were charged with carrying the parts of the Mishkan and its keilim (vessels). Although the Levi’im are a critical part of the avodah (service) in the Mikdash, they are prohibited from doing the jobs of a Kohen (priest). The Levi’im have no nachalah (portion) of the Land of Israel, but instead live in forty-eight Levite cities throughout the land. The nation is obligated to give the Levi Ma’aser Rishon (the first tithe), and the Levi is then obligated to give Trumat Ma’aser- a tenth of what he received- to a Kohen.