Monday, October 28, 2013

Location of the Yesod Ramp: Part 2

Last week I came up with the following diagram and accompanying equation which describes where along the main Ramp of the Altar the minor ramp to the Yesod branched off to the west. 

Tiferes Yisrael, in his Temple Diagram §48, indicates that the minor ramps branched off somewhere on the lower half of the main Ramp. When the above equation is solved (I entered it in Grapher, my Mac's built-in graphing program), we get:

e = 13.81

This means that the ramp to the Yesod began 13.81 amos from the foot of the main Ramp, or 2.19 amos below its midpoint, which is indeed on the lower half of the main Ramp.

As for the ramp to the Sovev on the east, it is physically impossible to have it branch off on the lower half of the main Ramp and also conform to the Temple standard of 1 amah of height for every 3 amos of length. Since the slope will, in any case, differ from the standard, it appears that we may have the minor ramp to the east branch off at the same point as the ramp to the Yesod on the west. This not only makes the Altar more symmetrical, but having the two ramps directly across from one another shortens the distance that the Kohen needs to walk when descending from the Sovev to bring excess blood to the Yesod.


  1. Interesting work. I'm wondering why you're at all assuming that the 3 to 1 ratio applies to the minor ramps at all. Especially as it is impossible for the sovev ramp. Maybe the Tiferes Yisroel means literally "near the foot".
    On the other hand, it might make sense to begin the minor ramp(s) as close to the top as possible, to save time for the cohen walking down the main ramp and turning.

  2. The reason I assumed the 3:1 ratio here is because the Gemara in Zevachim states that "all of the ramps there [in the Temple] conformed to the ratio of 3:1 except for the main Altar ramp." If you assume that TY does mean "near the foot" then not only will the sovev ramp not match the 3:1 ratio but neither will the yesod ramp because the slope will be too shallow.


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