In the case of the Har Habayis gates, the area beneath the lintels was not elevated to the same level of sanctity as that of Har Habayis itself. When it came to the gates of the Azarah, though, the Sages imbued the area beneath the lintels with the same sanctity as that of the Azarah. As a result, anyone standing beneath the lintels of these gates was considered as if he were standing in the Azarah. The doors of the gates were therefore hung at the outer edge of the 5-amah-thick Azarah walls to keep people from inadvertently stepping into this sanctified area when the gates were closed. The only exception to this rule was the Nikanor Gate whose lintel was left unsanctified for the sole purpose of allowing a metzora to stand there during his purification process.
Curtains were hung in the gateways to shield the inside of the Azarah from view while the doors of the gates were open. The curtains were woven of the finest linen and embroidered with threads of techeiles, argaman, and tolaas shani, and were also set with precious stones in designs of roses and other flowers.
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