Thursday, May 18, 2023

TOST Back in Stock

The next shipment of The Original Second Temple has just arrived in New York and the books are now back in stock. I would like to thank all of the readers from around the world who sent in questions and comments on the first edition, and many of those corrections made their way into this second revised edition.

Please visit The Book tab for more info about the book and how to get a copy.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Animals on Erev Pesach

The Gemara (Pesachim 65b) states that on erev Pesach the Kohanim were walking around on the floor of the Beis Hamikdash up to their ankles in the blood of the festival offerings. How many animals would it take to produce that much blood?

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

House of Shadow and Light

To mark my father's yahrtzeit on 29 Shevat I delivered a new slideshow titled House of Shadow and Light. This shiur explores the relationship between the path of the sun and the structure of the Beis Hamikdash. The slideshow covers some topics from earlier blog posts, some ideas discussed in my book, as well as some brand new material.

The video now has closed captions thanks to the efforts of Martha Goodman and the Disability and Inclusion Services, Macks Center for Jewish Connections in Baltimore, MD.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Happy Isru Chag Succos 5783!

At the end of another Succos in the Beis Hamikdash the Kohanim and Leviim started cleaning up after yom tov. They had more than just their succos to take down — there was also a large project waiting for them in the Women's Courtyard.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Model Ma'arachah on Display

When visitors to the Ner Yisroel neighborhood now walk by the site of the yeshivah's annual Lag Ba'omer bonfire, they will see more than just scattered wood and charred logs. Some volunteers used a little imagination and a lot of hard work to transform those "spent firebrands" into a hands-on learning experience.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Behind the Scenes: Beis Hamoked Basement

I am in the process of importing my 3D model of the
Beis Hamikdash into the Unity game engine. Although many of the models that were used to create the images for my book already exist, the app is going to allow the user to explore the entire Beis Hamikdash and so many more areas have to be created. Here is a sneak peek at one of those new scenes.

Friday, April 15, 2022

חג כשר ושמח תשפ״ב

Here is another 4x4 micro diorama for Pesach whose full scale physical counterpart will, sadly, have to wait until next year. 

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Plumbing [in] the Depths of the Temple 2.0

The following is an updated version of this post that was newly prepared for print in the Beis Medrash of Ranchleigh Pesach Kuntress 5782:

    The procedure of the Korban Pesach was identical whether performed on a weekday or on Shabbos, except that [on Shabbos] the Kohanim would rinse the floor of the Azarah against the will of the Sages (Mishnah, Pesachim 64a).

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Parah Adumah Podcast for Pesach

 In Temple times the concept of tumah [ritual defilement] and taharah [ritual purity] was a daily concern, affecting people, utensils, and food. It was given special attention at this time of year as people began preparing to ascend to the Temple for the Festival of Pesach and needed to be tahor in order to do so. Tumah comes in many forms and its severity depends upon the source of the contamination. The most severe form of tumah is that which derives from contact with, or being under the same roof as, a human corpse. According to Jewish law the only way to become purified from corpse tumah is to be sprinkled with spring water which has been mixed with the ashes of a parah adumah [red cow]. Check out a new podcast that analyzes a poetic description of the parah adumah procedure.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Second Beis Hamikdash App Preview

With the accessibility of 3D drawing and rendering tools nowadays, combined with fast hardware and free gaming engines, it has never been easier to create an immersive experience that really brings places and buildings to life. I imported the 3D models of the Beis Hamikdash that I used to create the illustrations for my book into the Unity game engine and have been tinkering with turning it into a full-fledged app that will, at the very least, allow people to walk around and explore the Mikdash at their own speed and interest. 

The world of apps lets you do, basically, anything you can imagine. This Second Temple app could be leveraged as a Kohen training course, part of a school curriculum, or just plain old edutainment. Since I don't have a full team of artists and programmers working for me just yet, the progress has been slow. Below you can check out a small preview of what I've put together so far. If the idea catches the interest of the right people, it could speed up development and make this app a reality.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Moadim Le'simchah: Birkas Kohanim


In Temple times when the Jewish people would travel to the city of Jerusalem for the regalim [pilgrimage festivals], they would have the opportunity to hear the birkas Kohanim [priestly blessing] from thousands of Kohanim at once. I recreated a glimpse of this scene in miniature.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Moving a Door in the Beis Hamoked

The Beis Hamoked was a large structure built into the northern Azarah wall. Half of it was inside the Azarah and half was over the Har Habayis. It also contained four smaller chambers that were used for different purposes. The Mishnah does not tell us the actual size of the Beis Hamoked and it would appear that this structure could be made as large as needed. However, a careful reading of Middos 1:7 might constrain the size of the Beis Hamoked after all.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Monday, August 23, 2021

Daf Yomi: Aravos on the Mizbeyach (Succah 45a)

Inspired by a recent passage in Daf Yomi, I took out my Lego® Mizbeyach and a handful of white-clad minifigures for an impromptu photo shoot.

Monday, August 16, 2021

So Close Yet So Far Away (Part 2 of 2)

This is the continuation of last week's post:

The answer emerges from a curious ambiguity in the laws governing the sanctity of the Beis HaMikdash. The Mishnah (Keilim 1:8-9) teaches that the various parts of the Beis HaMikdash possessed increasingly higher levels of sanctity as one progressed inward toward the Kodesh HaKodashim. We learn, for example, that the Har HaBayis — the large, outer portion of the Beis HaMikdash complex that measured 500×500 amos (Middos 2:1) — was restricted to certain types of tahor people, whereas the Main Azarah — an area measuring 135×187 amos (Middos 5:1) — had an even higher level of sanctity. Although these areas are clearly defined physically in Tractate Middos and spiritually in Tractate Keilim, we are not told the dimensions or status of the thickness of the walls dividing these areas. Thus, as a person walks from the Har HaBayis into the Azarah through one of its gates, at what point is he considered to be “in” the Azarah — when he crosses the threshold of the gateway at the outer edge of the wall or when he enters the Azarah proper?