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.

To accommodate this Biblical requirement, the morning Tamid was slaughtered in one of the westernmost rings, since those would be the first rings to see direct sunlight in the morning once the shadow of the eastern Azarah wall receded past them. Ideally, the Tamid should be slaughtered as close to the Mizbeyach as possible so that its blood applications could be performed without delay. However, it could not be slaughtered in the very first ring closest to the Mizbeyach because during the shortest days of winter the sun rises in the southeast and the shadow cast by the Mizbeyach itself completely covers these rings. For this reason, the morning Tamid was always slaughtered in the westernmost ring of the second row of rings from the Mizbeyach, because the rings of this second row would always be in sunlight. Similarly, the afternoon Tamid was slaughtered in one of the easternmost rings which were the last rings to fall under the shadow of the Heychal in the afternoon. The afternoon Tamid was also slaughtered in the second ring from the Mizbeyach since, as above, the ring closest to the Mizbeyach remained in the shadow of the Mizbeyach during the winter. 

This phenomenon can be shown clearly in a sun study (a computer simulation that depicts the actual path of the sun over a scale model of the structure) of the interior of the Azarah on the shortest day of the year. In the morning, as the sun rises higher in the sky and the shadow of the eastern wall recedes to the east, the closest ring to the Mizbeyach to first see sunlight is, in fact, the westernmost ring of the second row of rings (see illustration). 

Printable version of this post for others in your shul or chaburah.

*This post is meant to aid those in the Oraysa Learning Program. This site is not affiliated with or endorsed by that program.*

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