On Chanukah we celebrate the miraculous defeat of the Syrian-Greeks by the Chashmonaim. Part of the miracle was that the Jews found a single flask of oil still sealed with the mark of the Kohen Gadol. Opinions vary as to where this flask was actually discovered.
Monday, April 29, 2019
Once upon a time, toward the end of the Second Temple era, King Agripas wanted to take a census of the Jewish people. He told the Kohen Gadol to keep track of how many Pesach offerings were brought that year in order to estimate the number of people. The Kohen Gadol collected one kidney from each offering, and at the end of the day they found that they had counted six hundred thousand pairs of kidneys (1.2 million in total), which was double the number of people who left Egypt. Even this was not an accurate estimate, because it did not count those who were tamei or who were far away from the Beis Hamikdash (and did not participate in the korban Pesach). Furthermore, this was only a count of the korbanos, not the people, for there was not a single korban that did not have at least ten people in the group that was going to eat it. They called that year the “Crowded Pesach” because there were so many people.
(summarized from Pesachim 64b)
This Gemara indicates that on one particular year, over one million korbanos were processed in the Beis Hamikdash on erev Pesach. In this post I would like to examine how many people could reasonably fit in the Azarah at one time and how to reconcile the result with our Gemara.