Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New Class: Tour of the Temple

Starting after Pesach I will be giving a 15-part email class called Tour of the Temple on the basic structure of the Beis Hamikdash. This class is being given in conjunction with Project Genesis and you can find a link to the information page here. Click Subscribe at the top of the page to sign up. Each class will also be posted to this blog.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Eating Chametz and Matzah Together

In the Mah Nishtanah at the Pesach Seder one of the questions asked is why on this night we eat only matzah whereas on other nights we eat both chametz and matzah. The question about this question is when, exactly, do we eat chametz and matzah together? Was this so common that a child would see the lack of chametz at the Seder as unusual and be moved to ask about it?

In the times of the Beis Hamikdash when people regularly brought korbanos they were used to following the regulations regarding the consumption of sanctified food. All those partaking of the food had to be tahor and the food had to be eaten within a certain period of time. Now, for most korbanos, the amount of food that had to be eaten, and the time limit for eating it, was quite manageable. There was one exception, however, and that was the Todah [thanksgiving] offering. This offering was accompanied by 40 loaves, 30 of which were unleavened (matzah) and 10 of which were leavened (chametz) and all of these had to be eaten in one day! The Torah purposely made it difficult for the person bringing a Todah to eat it all himself, forcing him to invite many friends and family members to the meal to help him consume all of the sanctified food in time. During the meal he would share the story of why he was bringing a Todah offering and this would lead to a sanctification of God's Name since so many people would recognize the kindness that God showed this individual.

Now, a child at the Seder would see a large group of people gathered for the consumption of an offering (the Korban Pesach, in this case) but would notice that only matzah was being served. He would find this odd, since at all the other large gatherings he had attended throughout the year when offerings were being consumed (namely, when his family was invited to someone's thanksgiving meal) there had been both chametz and matzah on the table at the same time. Hence the question.

(I do not have a direct source for this. Someone just told it to me in shul this Shabbos. Any ideas?)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lego® Mizbeach Models

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to bring my Lego® brick models of the Mizbeach to my son's fourth grade class at the Talmudical Academy. They had just finished learning about the Mishkan and so I came to show them what the Outer Mizbeach of both the Mishkan and Beis Hamikdash looked like and to point out some of the differences and similarities. The boys really enjoyed the talk and asked lots of good questions. One of them even offered to bring me a whole bag full of Lego® bricks so that I can build more of the Beis Hamikdash!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Fuller Picture of the Kiyor

   The Kiyor [Laver] was a copper vessel which held the water used by the Kohanim to sanctify their hands and feet in preparation for the sacrificial service. It was used in the Tabernacle as well as in the First and Second Temples, although this Kiyor is not described in any great detail in the Scriptural or Talmudic sources.

   In the First Temple Solomon constructed ten additional lavers which are described as containing 40 bas (a volume equivalent to 9 cubic amos — Ralbag) of water and standing 4 amos tall (I Kings 7:38). Malbim provides further details of these lavers: the top section of the laver was cylindrical, 1¾ amos in diameter and 2½ amos tall; the bottom section was square, 1¾ amos wide and 1½ amos tall (all the numbers given here are the outer dimensions). Now, Rashi (to II Chronicles 4:6) writes that that these ten lavers were built "in addition to that of Moses," which to me implies that they were exact replicas of the Kiyor that Moses made for the Tabernacle, just as Solomon's ten copies of the Menorah and Shulchan [Table] were exact copies of the originals. I therefore model the Kiyor of the Second Temple after Malbim's description of Solomon's lavers. Here is an image of what the Kiyor would have looked like:

Monday, March 5, 2012

View of Goolah Chamber

This is the interior of the Goolah Chamber located near the northeast corner of the Courtyard. A bucket was lowered via a pulley into a cistern to bring up sweet, clean water which the Kohanim would pour into a basin ("goolah") and then use for drinking and cooking. I (mistakenly) included a stool in the lower left corner of this rendering, although Kohanim were actually not permitted to sit here since this chamber was within the consecrated confines of the Courtyard. The only people allowed to sit in the Courtyard are kings descended from the House of David.

Model Mikdash in Mexico City

I just came across this site which features a large-scale model of the Beis Hamikdash built in Mexico City. The site is in Spanish but you can have Google translate it for you, or just look at the pictures.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Formula page for slope of temple walls

These are the formulas that belong in the original post right after the diagram. I couldn't find a way to copy and paste the formulas from my OpenOffice document into the post field so I have a link to the formula page here.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Maseches Middos Mefureshes

I was recently introduced to this sefer called מסכת מדות מפורשת (Bnei Brak, 5765) written by R' Meir Yehoshua Bogard.
   It contains the text of the Mishnah with a running commentary anthologized from a few sources, primarily Tiferes Yisrael. The author also adds some more in-depth insights along the bottom on certain topics discussed in the main commentary. Inside the front and back covers are some nice photos of two recent models of the Mikdash (along with contact info) and in the back of the sefer are floorplans of the Mikdash, including a reprint of the floorplan from an old Yachin and Boaz Mishnayos.
   Although not everything in the commentary is annotated to my liking, it does give a good explanation of the masechta and would be a step up for someone who already went through the Kehati.