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.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Yoma 34a – 36a: The Chamber of Parvah

The Chamber of Parvah, located near the southeastern corner of the Azarah, was used to tan the hides of the sacrificial animals. Since this is a very smelly process, the chamber did not open directly to the Azarah but likely had a door to the adjoining Chamber of Madichin  (Rinsers) which did open to the Azarah.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Yoma 31b – 33b: Placing the Menorah and the Shulchan

The Gemara describes the arrangement of the vessels in the Kodesh: The Shulchan stood in the north, the Menorah stood in the south, and the Mizbeyach Hazahav was centered between them and placed slightly further to the east. A more detailed explanation is given in Menachos (98b) where we learn that the arrangement was more complicated — and crowded — than our Gemara implies.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Yoma 29a – 31a: The Mikveh Above the Mayim Gate

Adjacent to the Chamber of Avtinas above the Mayim Gate was a mikveh that was used by the Kohen Gadol for the first of his immersions on Yom Kippur. This mikveh was visible from the Azarah so a linen sheet would be held up in front of it for privacy while the Kohen Gadol immersed.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Yoma 26b – 28b: The Slope of the Azarah Walls

The Gemara states that Avraham davened Minchah “when the [eastern] faces of the walls begin to darken,” i.e., immediately after solar noon. Now, we know that our prayers correspond to the Tamid-offerings, and that the time period allowed for the Minchah prayer is identical to that allotted for the afternoon Tamid. It should emerge that the afternoon Tamid may be brought “when the [eastern] faces of the walls begin to darken” yet we find that the earliest permissible time for the afternoon Tamid is not until half an hour past noon!

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Yoma 24a – 26a: The Lishkas Hagazis

The Lishkas Hagazis [Chamber of Hewn Stone], so called for the special square stones used in its construction, was located in the northeast corner of the Azarah. This room served as the seat of the 71-member Sanhedrin court.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Yoma 21b – 23b: The Ramp of the Mizbeyach

As recorded in the Torah, it is forbidden to access the Mizbeyach with steps. For this reason, a large ramp was built on the southern side of the Mizbeyach which measured 32 amos long, 16 amos wide, and 9 amos tall. While all ramps in the Beis Hamikdash conformed to a ratio of 3 amos in length for every amah of height, the slope of the Mizbeyach ramp was slightly shallower, with a ratio of 3½ amos + 1⅓ fingerbreadths of length for every amah of height.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Yoma 19a – 21a: The Chamber of Melach

Starting in the southeast corner of the Azarah were three chambers which took up the entire 11-amah length of the Ezras Yisrael and continued into the Ezras Kohanim.

The first of these was the Chamber of Melach which held a large supply of salt used for

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Yoma 16b – 18b: The Beis Hamoked

Built around the first of the major gates on the northern side of the Azarah was a large complex with a domed ceiling called the Beis Hamoked [Hall of the Fire]. This building served as sleeping quarters for the watch of Kohanim currently on duty as well as a place for them to

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Yoma 14a – 16a: The Chambers of the Oils and Metzoraim

The chamber in the southwestern corner of the Ezras Nashim was called the Chamber of the Shemanim [Oils] and served as the storage area for the Beis Hamikdash’s supply of oil, wine, and flour. It was named for the oils stored here since

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Happy Chol Hamoed Succos 5784!

On the holiday of Succos, the Rejoicing of the Water-drawing would take place inside the Women's Courtyard. The celebration began on the second night of the holiday when the great sages and pious men of the generation would assemble in this courtyard to dance, juggle, and sing God's praises while scores of Leviim stood upon the fifteen round steps in front of the Nikanor Gate (in the western wall of this courtyard) providing musical accompaniment.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Yoma 11b – 13b: Binyamin Hatzaddik and the Yesod of the Mizbeyach

 It was vitally important that the Mizbeyach be built in precisely the right location and so a prophet was consulted to pinpoint its exact coordinates. In addition, although the entire expanse of Har Habayis was built over a system of arches to protect it from

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Yoma 9a – 11a: The Nikanor Gate

The Nikanor Gate was one of seven major gates in the walls surrounding the Azarah. All of these major gates measured ten amos wide and twenty amos tall and had double doors. When the Jews returned from exile to build the Second Beis Hamikdash they were poor and could not afford to spend lavishly on the structure. At some later point when their financial situation had improved they were able to plate all of the doors of the Beis Hamikdash gates with gold. The only exception was the

Friday, September 15, 2023

New Resource for the Oraysa Learning Program

The Oraysa Learning Program is a global initiative that unites all of Klal Yisroel through a structured daily learning platform designed to learn, review and retain all of Shas. I recently decided to join this program as they began Maseches Yoma.

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

The Terry Elan Memorial Lecture 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.