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.

This work was carried out in the Chamber of the Paroches. This chamber stood somewhere within the Azarah, in the north or west, although its exact location is unknown. Some suggest that the Chamber of the Paroches may have been housed in one of the thirty-eight tau’im (small storage rooms) of the Heychal, although if this were true it would require the women who wove the curtains to enter much farther into the sanctified areas than they normally were allowed to go.

The large Paroches curtains of the Heychal measured 20x40 amos. They were woven in five sections that were each 4 amos wide and 40 amos long. The process begins by loading the upper beam of the loom with thread from a large spool (A). In the illustrations shown here, the entire loom apparatus is free-standing (i.e., not attached to any of the walls) because this chamber stood within the Azarah where it was forbidden to build any protruding wooden element that was attached to the floor or walls.

The heddles (rectangular frames that lift alternate rows of threads) are put in place and the weaving begins, with the woven cloth emerging from the loom and collecting upon the lower beam (B). After each section of the curtain is completed (C), the lower beam is taken out of the chamber to another location where the five sections are then stitched together. 

A                                           B                                          C

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