Thursday, April 4, 2024

Rashi to Bava Metzia 33a About the Route to Open the Heychal Gateway

On Bava Metzia 33a Rashi gives a description of the route taken by the Kohen as he opens the doors of the main Heychal gateway. I get the impression that these lines of Rashi have troubled many a student of the Gemara, judging by the number of people who have come over to me and asked me to explain what Rashi means here. In honor of Daf Yomi reaching this sugya I will present my elucidated version of Rashi's words as I understand them.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Yoma 71b – 73b: Storing the Mishkan

The Gemara states that the kerashim (wall beams) of the Mishkan will remain “standing forever.” This fits nicely with the account in Sotah 9a where we learn that the Mishkan components were hidden away when the First Beis Hamikdash was built. According to one approach, these components were stored in the upper level of the Heychal.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Yoma 69a – 71a: The Kodesh Hakodashim

As the sun prepares to set on the day of Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol enters the Kodesh Hakodashim one final time to retrieve the empty Ketores ladle and shovel of coals. The room must have been quite dark since the Kohen Gadol carried no lamp with him, and the glowing coals in the shovel had long since expired, and the flames of the nearby Menorah were blocked from view by the curtains of the amah traksin.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Yoma 66b – 68b: Women of the Wool

R’ Eliezer mentions that women are especially gifted when it comes to working with wool. In the Mishkan they expressed this talent by spinning and weaving the various panels that made up the structure, and in the Beis Hamikdash they wove the curtains for the gates and the Heychal Building.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Yoma 64a – 66a: The Half-Shekel Donation

Located within the Azarah were thirteen collection boxes, called shofaros on account of their long, curved necks which resembled a shofar. They were used to collect funds for the following purposes:

Friday, February 16, 2024

The Terry Elan Memorial Lecture 2024: Beis Hamikdash Underground

To mark my father's yahrtzeit on 29 Shevat I delivered a new slideshow titled Beis Hamikdash Underground: The secret — and not-so-secret — architecture beneath the Second Beis Hamikdash.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Yoma 61b – 63b: The Second Ring

The Gemara states that the two daily Tamid-offerings must be slaughtered “facing the sun,” that is, in a place on the Azarah floor that will be lit by the rays of the sun and not remain in shadow.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Yoma 59a – 61a: Purification of the Metzora

When a metzora came to the Beis Hamikdash at the end of his period of tumah, one step in his purification procedure was to immerse in the mikveh located in the Chamber of the Metzoraim

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Preview of the Terry Elan Memorial Lecture 2024

On Sunday, February 11, 2024, I will be delivering a lecture in memory of my father IYH. The title is Beis Hamikdash Underground: The secret — and not-so-secret — architecture beneath the second Beis Hamikdash

Yoma 56b – 58b: The Amas Hamayim and the Yam Shel Shlomo

On the southwestern corner of the Yesod of the Outer Mizbeyach were two round depressions with small holes at the bottom that served as drains. These two drains were situated diagonally opposite each other, with one to the southeast and the other to the northwest of that corner (see illustration). After the zerikah was completed, the blood which remained in the mizrak was poured onto the Yesod. Certain korbanos (including some of the Yom Kippur korbanos) had their leftover blood poured onto the western portion of the Yesod where a small lip along this edge of the Yesod directed the blood into the northwestern drain. Other offerings had their blood poured onto the southern part of the Yesod and this blood flowed into the southeastern drain.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Yoma 54a – 56a: The Chamber of the Eitzim

In the northeastern corner of the Ezras Nashim was the Chamber of the Eitzim. Here the Kohanim would inspect firewood to determine if it was infested with worms, since any piece of wood containing worms was not fit to be burned upon the Mizbeyach. This wormy wood was not discarded but rather was used for other purposes in the Beis Hamikdash, such as fueling the various warming fires or the stoves used for cooking sacrificial meat.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Slideshow at the Talmudical Academy 4th Grade

 This week I had the opportunity to speak to Rabbi Sruly Slansky's fourth grade class at the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore. The boys just completed Mishnayos Succah and were curious to learn more about the Simchas Beis Hashoeavah, the Nisuch Hamayim, and where these events took place in the Beis Hamikdash.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Yoma 51b – 53b: The Duchan

The first section of the Azarah measured 11 amos from east to west and was known as the Ezras Yisrael, and beyond that was the Ezras Kohanim, also 11 amos from east to west. The Ezras Kohanim was elevated 2.5 amos above the Ezras Yisrael and these two areas were separated by four steps running the entire width of the Azarah. The first of these was a large step, one amah high and one amah deep, and marked the point beyond which all non-Kohanim should not enter (the step itself was located within the Ezras Kohanim). 

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Yoma 49a – 51a: The Chavitin of the Kohen Gadol

The Torah (Vayikra 6:12-15) describes the chavitin, a type of minchah offering that was brought daily (and paid for) by the Kohen Gadol. The chavitin consisted of a prescribed amount of flour, water, and oil that were kneaded together, scalded in boiling water, baked, and then fried with oil.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Yoma 46b – 48b: Chamber of the Keilim


As the Kohen Gadol prepared to offer the Ketores on Yom Kippur, they would bring him an empty ladle from the Chamber of the Keilim. This room was located somewhere within the Azarah, although its exact location is unknown.