Thursday, February 22, 2024

Yoma 64a – 66a: The Half-Shekel Donation

Located within the Azarah were thirteen collection boxes, called shofaros on account of their long, curved necks which resembled a shofar. They were used to collect funds for the following purposes:

Friday, February 16, 2024

The Terry Elan Memorial Lecture 2024: Beis Hamikdash Underground

To mark my father's yahrtzeit on 29 Shevat I delivered a new slideshow titled Beis Hamikdash Underground: The secret — and not-so-secret — architecture beneath the Second Beis Hamikdash.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Yoma 61b – 63b: The Second Ring

The Gemara states that the two daily Tamid-offerings must be slaughtered “facing the sun,” that is, in a place on the Azarah floor that will be lit by the rays of the sun and not remain in shadow.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Yoma 59a – 61a: Purification of the Metzora

When a metzora came to the Beis Hamikdash at the end of his period of tumah, one step in his purification procedure was to immerse in the mikveh located in the Chamber of the Metzoraim

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Preview of the Terry Elan Memorial Lecture 2024

On Sunday, February 11, 2024, I will be delivering a lecture in memory of my father IYH. The title is Beis Hamikdash Underground: The secret — and not-so-secret — architecture beneath the second Beis Hamikdash

Yoma 56b – 58b: The Amas Hamayim and the Yam Shel Shlomo

On the southwestern corner of the Yesod of the Outer Mizbeyach were two round depressions with small holes at the bottom that served as drains. These two drains were situated diagonally opposite each other, with one to the southeast and the other to the northwest of that corner (see illustration). After the zerikah was completed, the blood which remained in the mizrak was poured onto the Yesod. Certain korbanos (including some of the Yom Kippur korbanos) had their leftover blood poured onto the western portion of the Yesod where a small lip along this edge of the Yesod directed the blood into the northwestern drain. Other offerings had their blood poured onto the southern part of the Yesod and this blood flowed into the southeastern drain.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Yoma 54a – 56a: The Chamber of the Eitzim

In the northeastern corner of the Ezras Nashim was the Chamber of the Eitzim. Here the Kohanim would inspect firewood to determine if it was infested with worms, since any piece of wood containing worms was not fit to be burned upon the Mizbeyach. This wormy wood was not discarded but rather was used for other purposes in the Beis Hamikdash, such as fueling the various warming fires or the stoves used for cooking sacrificial meat.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Slideshow at the Talmudical Academy 4th Grade

 This week I had the opportunity to speak to Rabbi Sruly Slansky's fourth grade class at the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore. The boys just completed Mishnayos Succah and were curious to learn more about the Simchas Beis Hashoeavah, the Nisuch Hamayim, and where these events took place in the Beis Hamikdash.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Yoma 51b – 53b: The Duchan

The first section of the Azarah measured 11 amos from east to west and was known as the Ezras Yisrael, and beyond that was the Ezras Kohanim, also 11 amos from east to west. The Ezras Kohanim was elevated 2.5 amos above the Ezras Yisrael and these two areas were separated by four steps running the entire width of the Azarah. The first of these was a large step, one amah high and one amah deep, and marked the point beyond which all non-Kohanim should not enter (the step itself was located within the Ezras Kohanim). 

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Yoma 49a – 51a: The Chavitin of the Kohen Gadol

The Torah (Vayikra 6:12-15) describes the chavitin, a type of minchah offering that was brought daily (and paid for) by the Kohen Gadol. The chavitin consisted of a prescribed amount of flour, water, and oil that were kneaded together, scalded in boiling water, baked, and then fried with oil.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Yoma 46b – 48b: Chamber of the Keilim


As the Kohen Gadol prepared to offer the Ketores on Yom Kippur, they would bring him an empty ladle from the Chamber of the Keilim. This room was located somewhere within the Azarah, although its exact location is unknown.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Yoma 44a – 46a: The Maarachos

Three fires were kept burning on the top of the Mizbeyach every day. The largest of these was located in the southeastern quadrant. All sacrificial parts which were required to be burned on the top of the Mizbeyach were placed on this fire. Each morning this fire would be rebuilt by laying down two logs, parallel to each other, and then stacking two more logs on top, perpendicular to the first two, to form a square. A few more layers were added to make it “very large.”

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Yoma 41b – 43b: Preparing the Parah Adumah


The Gemara has been discussing various details of the parah adumah procedure. This process was a rare occurrence, for it only happened nine times in the history of the world. Even so, a great deal of preparation and construction was put into place so that the process could be carried out properly when the need arose.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Yoma 39a – 41a: The Golden Fruit Trees

Shlomo Hamelech planted trees in the First Beis Hamikdash that produced golden fruit. The Kohanim would sell this fruit and use the money to support their families. Although these magical trees died when the First Beis Hamikdash was destroyed, we shall experience this miracle once again in the future Beis Hamikdash. During the times of the Second Beis Hamikdash, however, they had no golden fruit but still had poor Kohanim, so they attempted to replicate this concept with a manmade alternative.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Yoma 36b – 38b: The Kiyor and the Muchni

The Kiyor was a container of water used by the Kohanim to wash their hands and feet prior to beginning the avodah. It was a sanctified vessel, and if water would remain inside the Kiyor overnight it would become unfit for use in the Beis Hamikdash. This would have required the Kohanim to empty the Kiyor each night and refill it the next day, which is both degrading to the sanctified water of the Kiyor and a time-consuming task.