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ב"ה

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Beit Habechirah - Chapter 5

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Beit Habechirah - Chapter 5

1

Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount, measured 500 cubits by 500 cubits.1 It was surrounded by a wall.2 [The earth beneath it was hollowed out to prevent contracting ritual impurity] due to Tumat Ohel.3 Arches above arches were built underneath [for support].4 It was entirely covered,5 one colonnade inside another.6

א

הַר הַבַּיִת וְהוּא הַר הַמּוֹרִיָּה הָיָה חֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת אַמָּה עַל חֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת אַמָּה וְהָיָה מֻקָּף חוֹמָה. וְכֵפִין עַל גַּבֵּי כֵּפִין הָיוּ בְּנוּיוֹת מִתַּחְתָּיו. מִפְּנֵי אֹהֶל הַטֻּמְאָה. וְכֻלּוֹ הָיָה מְקֹרֶה סְטָיו לְפָנִים מִסְּטָיו:

2

Five gates led to the [Temple Mount]: One from the west,7 one from the east,8 one from the north,9 and two from the south.10 Each gate was 10 cubits [wide] and twenty cubits high.11 [Each gate] had doors.12

ב

וַחֲמִשָּׁה שְׁעָרִים הָיוּ לוֹ. אֶחָד מִן הַמַּעֲרָב וְאֶחָד מִן הַמִּזְרָח וְאֶחָד מִן הַצָּפוֹן וּשְׁנַיִם מִן הַדָּרוֹם. רֹחַב כָּל שַׁעַר עֶשֶׂר אַמּוֹת וְגָבְהוֹ עֶשְׂרִים. וְיֵשׁ לָהֶם דַּלְתוֹת:

3

Further within, a latticework partition,13 10 handbreadths high, surrounded it on all sides.14

The Chayl [a rampart] ten cubits high, was located further inside this partition.15 It is referred to in the [Book of] Lamentations [2:6]: 'The wall and the rampart mourned.' [This wall] refers to the wall surrounding the Temple Courtyard.

ג

לְפָנִים מִמֶּנּוּ סוֹרֵג מַקִּיף סְבִיב גָּבְהוֹ עֲשָׂרָה טְפָחִים וּלְפָנִים מִן הַסּוֹרֵג הַחֵיל [גָּבְהוֹ] עֶשֶׂר אַמּוֹת. וְעָלָיו הוּא אוֹמֵר בַּקִּינוֹת (איכה ב ח) "וַיַּאֲבֶל חֵל וְחוֹמָה" זוֹ חוֹמַת הָעֲזָרָה:

4

Further inward, beyond the chayl, was the Temple Courtyard.16 The Temple Courtyard was 187 [cubits] long and 135 [cubits] wide.17

It had seven gates.18 Three were on its north side, close to the west,19 and three were on the south side, close to the west. One [gate] in the east was positioned in the center, [directly] opposite the Holy of Holies.20

ד

לְפָנִים מִן הַחֵיל הָעֲזָרָה. וְכָל הָעֲזָרָה הָיְתָה אֹרֶךְ קפ''ז עַל רֹחַב קל''ה. וְשִׁבְעָה שְׁעָרִים הָיוּ לָהּ. שְׁלֹשָׁה מִן הַצָּפוֹן הַסְּמוּכִין לַמַּעֲרָב. וּשְׁלֹשָׁה מִן הַדָּרוֹם סְמוּכִין לַמַּעֲרָב. וְאֶחָד בַּמִּזְרָח מְכֻוָּן כְּנֶגֶד בֵּית קֹדֶשׁ הַקָּדָשִׁים בָּאֶמְצַע:

5

Each gate was ten cubits wide and twenty cubits high.21 Each one had gold-plated doors,22 except for the eastern gate which was plated with bronze that resembled gold. This was called the Upper Gate.23 It was [also called] the gate of Nicanor.24

ה

כָּל שַׁעַר מֵהֶן הָיָה רָחְבּוֹ עֶשֶׂר אַמּוֹת וְגָבְהוֹ עֶשְׂרִים אַמָּה. וְהָיוּ לוֹ דְּלָתוֹת מְחֻפּוֹת זָהָב. חוּץ מִשַּׁעַר מִזְרָחִי שֶׁהָיָה מְצֻפֶּה נְחשֶׁת דּוֹמָה לְזָהָב. וְשַׁעַר זֶה הוּא הַנִּקְרָא שַׁעַר הָעֶלְיוֹן וְהוּא שַׁעַר נִיקָנוֹר:

6

The Temple Courtyard was not situated directly in the center of the Temple Mount. Rather, it was set off further from the southern [wall] of the Temple Mount than from [the wall of] any other direction.25 It was closer to the western [wall] than to [the wall of] any other direction.26 There was a greater distance between it and the northern [wall] than between it and the western [wall]. [Similarly,] there was a greater distance between it and the eastern [wall] than between it and the northern [wall].27

ו

הָעֲזָרָה לֹא הָיְתָה מְכֻוֶּנֶת בְּאֶמְצַע הַר הַבַּיִת. אֶלָּא רְחוֹקָה מִדְּרוֹם הַר הַבַּיִת יֶתֶר מִכָּל הָרוּחוֹת וּקְרוֹבָה לַמַּעֲרָב יֶתֶר מִכָּל הָרוּחוֹת. וּבֵינָהּ וּבֵין הַצָּפוֹן יֶתֶר מִמַּה שֶּׁבֵּינָהּ וּבֵין הַמַּעֲרָב. וּבֵינָהּ וּבֵין הַמִּזְרָח יֶתֶר מִמַּה שֶּׁבֵּינָהּ וּבֵין הַצָּפוֹן:

7

The Women's Courtyard28 was in front of the Temple Courtyard on the East29 and was 135 cubits long and 135 cubits wide. It had four chambers, each forty cubits [by forty cubits, one] in [each of] its four corners.30 They did not have roofs, nor will they in the Messianic Age.31

ז

וְלִפְנֵי הָעֲזָרָה בַּמִּזְרָח הָיְתָה עֶזְרַת הַנָּשִׁים. וְהִיא הָיְתָה אֹרֶךְ מֵאָה אַמָּה וַחֲמִשָּׁה וּשְׁלֹשִׁים עַל רֹחַב קל''ה. וְאַרְבַּע לְשָׁכוֹת הָיוּ בְּאַרְבַּע מִקְצְעוֹתֶיהָ שֶׁל אַרְבָּעִים אַרְבָּעִים אַמָּה וְלֹא הָיוּ מְקֹרוֹת וְכֵן עֲתִידִין לִהְיוֹת:

8

For what purpose were they used?

The southeastern chamber32 was [called] the Chamber of the Nazirites.33 There, they cooked peace offerings and shaved their hair.

The northeastern chamber34 was [called] the Chamber of the Woodshed. There, the priests who [were disqualified from the Temple service] because of physical deformities35 checked the wood [brought for the Altar] for worms. If a worm was found, it was unfit for use.36

The northwestern chamber37 was [called] the Chamber of Those Afflicted with Tzara'at.38

The southwestern chamber39 was used to store wine and oil. It was called "The Chamber of the Oils."40

ח

וּמַה הֵם מְשַׁמְּשׁוֹת. דְּרוֹמִית מִזְרָחִית לִשְׁכַּת הַנְּזִירִים שֶׁשָּׁם מְבַשְּׁלִין אֶת שַׁלְמֵיהֶם וּמְגַלְּחִין אֶת שַׂעֲרָם. מִזְרָחִית צְפוֹנִית לִשְׁכַּת דִּיר הָעֵצִים שֶׁשָּׁם כֹּהֲנִים בַּעֲלֵי מוּמִין מַתְלִיעִים בָּעֵצִים. שֶׁכָּל עֵץ שֶׁנִּמְצָא בּוֹ תּוֹלַעַת פָּסוּל. צְפוֹנִית מַעֲרָבִית לִשְׁכַּת הַמְצֹרָעִים. מַעֲרָבִית דְּרוֹמִית בָּהּ הָיוּ נוֹתְנִין יַיִן וְשֶׁמֶן וְהִיא הָיְתָה נִקְרֵאת לִשְׁכַּת בֵּית שַׁמְנַיָּא:

9

The Women's Courtyard41 was surrounded by balconies so that women could look on from above and the men from below without intermingling.42

ט

עֶזְרַת הַנָּשִׁים הָיְתָה מֻקֶּפֶת גְּזוּזְטְרָא כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ הַנָּשִׁים רוֹאוֹת מִלְּמַעְלָן וְהָאֲנָשִׁים מִלְּמַטָּן כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיוּ מְעֵרְבָּבִין. וּבַיִת גָּדוֹל הָיָה בְּצַד הָעֲזָרָה בִּצְפוֹנָהּ מִבַּחוּץ בֵּין הָעֲזָרָה וְהַחֵיל וְהָיָה בָּנוּי כִּפָּה וּמֻקָּף רְבָדִין שֶׁל אֶבֶן וְהוּא הָיָה נִקְרָא בֵּית הַמּוֹקֵד. וּשְׁנֵי פְּתָחִים הָיוּ לוֹ אֶחָד פָּתוּחַ לָעֲזָרָה וְאֶחָד פָּתוּחַ לַחֵיל:

10

Outside the Temple Courtyard,43 on its northern side,44 was a large structure between the Courtyard and the chayl. It was built with a dome45 and [its inner walls] were surrounded with stone protrusions.46 It was called the Chamber of the Hearth.47

It contained two entrances: one to the Temple Courtyard48 and one to the chayl.49

There were four chambers inside it.50 Two were consecrated51 and two were not.52 Marking posts53 separated the consecrated [chambers] from those which were not consecrated.54

For what purpose were they used?

The southwestern [chamber]55 was the Chamber of the Lambs.56

The southeastern [chamber]57 was the Chamber of the Bakers of the Showbread.58

[In] the northeastern [chamber], the Hasmoneans entombed the stones of the Altar59 which were defiled by the Greek kings.60

[In] the northwestern chamber, [a stairwell] descended to the mikveh.61

י

וְאַרְבַּע לְשָׁכוֹת הָיוּ בּוֹ. שְׁתַּיִם קֹדֶשׁ וּשְׁתַּיִם חֹל. וְרָאשֵׁי פִּסְפְּסִין מַבְדִּילִין בֵּין הַקֹּדֶשׁ וְהַחל. וּמַה הָיוּ מְשַׁמְּשׁוֹת מַעֲרָבִית דְּרוֹמִית לִשְׁכַּת הַטְּלָאִים. וּדְרוֹמִית מִזְרָחִית לִשְׁכַּת עוֹשֵׂי לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים. מִזְרָחִית צְפוֹנִית בָּהּ גָּנְזוּ בֵּית חַשְׁמוֹנַי אַבְנֵי מִזְבֵּחַ שֶׁשִּׁקְּצוּם מַלְכֵי יָוָן. צְפוֹנִית מַעֲרָבִית בָּהּ יוֹרְדִין לְבֵית הַטְּבִילָה:

11

One who descended from this chamber to the mikveh62 proceeded along a winding stairway located under the entire Temple complex.63 Candles were kindled on both sides [of the passageway, to illuminate the way] until reaching the mikveh.

This [chamber] also contained the hearth64 and the seat of dignity.65 This was the dignity associated with it. If one found it locked, he knew it was occupied by another person [and did not enter].66

יא

הַיּוֹרֵד לְבֵית הַטְּבִילָה מִלִּשְׁכָּה זוֹ הָיָה הוֹלֵךְ בַּמְּסִבָּה הַהוֹלֶכֶת תַּחַת הַמִּקְדָּשׁ כֻּלּוֹ וְהַנֵּרוֹת דּוֹלְקוֹת מִכָּאן וּמִכָּאן עַד שֶׁמַּגִּיעַ לְבֵית הַטְּבִילָה. וּמְדוּרָה הָיְתָה שָׁם. וּבֵית הַכִּסֵּא שֶׁל כָּבוֹד. וְזֶהוּ כְּבוֹדוֹ, מְצָאוֹ נָעוּל בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם אָדָם:

12

The Temple Courtyard was 187 cubits long from east to west.67 The measurement can be broken down as follows:

Eleven cubits from the western wall of the Courtyard to the wall of the Temple building.

100 cubits, the length of the Temple building.68

22 cubits between the Entrance Hall and the Altar.69

22 cubits, [the length of] the Altar.70

Eleven cubits, the area where the priests could walk.71 This was called the Priestly courtyard.72

Eleven cubits, the area where Israelites could walk.73 This was called the Courtyard of Israel.

יב

אֹרֶךְ הָעֲזָרָה מִן הַמִּזְרָח לַמַּעֲרָב קפ''ז וְזֶהוּ חֶשְׁבּוֹנָן. מִכֹּתֶל מַעֲרָבִי שֶׁל עֲזָרָה עַד כֹּתֶל הַהֵיכָל אַחַת עֶשְׂרֵה אַמָּה. וְאֹרֶךְ הַהֵיכָל כֻּלּוֹ מֵאָה אַמָּה. בֵּין הָאוּלָם וְלַמִּזְבֵּחַ שְׁתַּיִם וְעֶשְׂרִים. הַמִּזְבֵּחַ שְׁתַּיִם וּשְׁלֹשִׁים. מְקוֹם דְּרִיסַת רַגְלֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים וְהוּא הַנִּקְרָא עֶזְרַת כֹּהֲנִים אַחַת עֶשְׂרֵה אַמָּה. מְקוֹם דְּרִיסַת רַגְלֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהוּא הַנִּקְרָא עֶזְרַת יִשְׂרָאֵל אַחַת עֶשְׂרֵה אַמָּה:

13

The Courtyard was 135 cubits wide, from north to south.74 The measurement can be broken down as follows:

Eight cubits from the northern wall75 until the butchering area.

Twelve and one half cubits, the width of the butchering area.76 There, they would suspend the sacrificed animals [on posts] and remove their hides.77

יג

וְרֹחַב הָעֲזָרָה מִן הַצָּפוֹן לַדָּרוֹם מֵאָה וּשְׁלֹשִׁים וְחָמֵשׁ וְזֶהוּ חֶשְׁבּוֹנָן. מִכֹּתֶל צְפוֹנִי עַד בֵּית הַמִּטְבָּחַיִם שְׁמוֹנֶה אַמּוֹת. בֵּית הַמִּטְבָּחַיִם י''ב אַמּוֹת וּמֶחֱצָה. וְשָׁם תּוֹלִין וּמַפְשִׁיטִין אֶת הַקָּדָשִׁים בְּצִדּוֹ:

14

At its side was the place for the tables; it was eight cubits wide.78 It had marble tables79 on which the severed limbs were placed. The meat was washed [there]80 before it was cooked.81 There were eight tables.82

The area of the rings83 [was positioned] next to the location of the tables. It was 24 cubits [wide].84 There, they slaughtered the sacrifices.85

יד

מְקוֹם הַשֻּׁלְחָנוֹת שְׁמוֹנֶה אַמּוֹת וּבוֹ שֻׁלְחָנוֹת שֶׁל שַׁיִשׁ שֶׁמַּנִּיחִין עֲלֵיהֶן הַנְּתָחִים וּמְדִיחִין אֶת הַבָּשָׂר לְבַשְּׁלוֹ. וּשְׁמוֹנָה שֻׁלְחָנוֹת הָיוּ. וּבְצַד מְקוֹם הַשֻּׁלְחָנוֹת מְקוֹם הַטַּבָּעוֹת כ''ד אַמָּה. וְשָׁם שׁוֹחֲטִין אֶת הַקָּדָשִׁים:

15

There were eight cubits between the Altar and the area of the rings.86 The Altar was 32 cubits wide.87 The ramp was 30 cubits [long].88 There were twelve and a half cubits between the ramp and the southern wall.89

[The area] from the northern wall of the Temple Courtyard90 until the wall91 of the Altar, was sixty and a half [cubits] wide.92 The length of this area, from the wall of the Entrance Hall until the eastern wall of the Courtyard, was 76 [cubits].93

טו

וּבֵין מְקוֹם הַטַּבָּעוֹת וְהַמִּזְבֵּחַ שְׁמוֹנֶה אַמּוֹת וְהַמִּזְבֵּחַ ל''ב. וְהַכֶּבֶשׁ שְׁלֹשִׁים. וּבֵין הַכֶּבֶשׁ וּלְכֹתֶל דְּרוֹמִי י''ב אַמָּה וּמֶחֱצָה. מִכֹּתֶל צְפוֹנִי שֶׁל עֲזָרָה עַד כֹּתֶל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ שֶׁהוּא רֹחַב שִׁשִּׁים וּמֶחֱצָה. וּכְנֶגְדוֹ מִכֹּתֶל הָאוּלָם עַד כֹּתֶל מִזְרָחִי שֶׁל עֲזָרָה שֶׁהוּא אֹרֶךְ שֵׁשׁ וְשִׁבְעִים:

16

The entire rectangle [described above] is called "the northern portion." The sacrifices of the most sacred order of holiness were slaughtered there.94

טז

כָּל הַמְרֻבָּע הַזֶּה הוּא הַנִּקְרָא צָפוֹן הוּא הַמָּקוֹם שֶׁשּׁוֹחֲטִין בּוֹ קָדְשֵׁי קָדָשִׁים:

17

The Courtyard of the Israelites had eight chambers:95 three in the north and three in the south.96 In the south,97 were the Chamber of Salt, Parve's Chamber,98 and the Washing Chamber.

The salt for the sacrifices was stored in the Chamber of the Salt.99 The hides of the sacrifices were salted in Parve's chamber.100 Its roof had a mikveh, used by the High Priest on Yom Kippur.101 The internal organs of the sacrifices were washed in the Washing Chamber.102 It had a winding ramp way leading to the roof of Parve's chamber.103

The three [chambers] in the north were the Chamber of Hewn Stone, the Chamber of the Bowl, and the Chamber of Wood.104

The Supreme Sanhedrin sat105 [in judgment] in the Chamber of Hewn Stone.106 Half was consecrated107 and half was not.108 The Sanhedrin sat in the half that was not consecrated.

The Chamber of the Bowl had a well from which water was drawn with a bowl. This [well] supplied water to the entire Temple Courtyard.

The Chamber of Wood was situated behind these two. It was the Chamber of the High Priest and [also] called "the Chamber of Parhedrin."109 The roofs of these three chambers were on the same level.110

The Courtyard of the Israelites had two other chambers:111 one to the right of the eastern gate, [called] the Chamber of Pinchas, the clothes-butler;112 and one to the left. It was [called] the Chamber of the Bakers of the chavitin.113

יז

שְׁמוֹנֶה לְשָׁכוֹת הָיוּ בְּעֶזְרַת יִשְׂרָאֵל. שָׁלֹשׁ בַּצָּפוֹן. וְשָׁלֹשׁ בַּדָּרוֹם. שֶׁבַּדָּרוֹם לִשְׁכַּת הַמֶּלַח. לִשְׁכַּת הַפַּרְוָה. לִשְׁכַּת הַמְּדִיחִין. לִשְׁכַּת הַמֶּלַח שָׁם נוֹתְנִין מֶלַח לַקָּרְבָּן. לִשְׁכַּת הַפַּרְוָה שָׁם מוֹלְחִין עוֹרוֹת הַקָּדָשִׁים. וְעַל גַּגָּהּ הָיְתָה בֵּית טְבִילָה לְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים. לִשְׁכַּת הַמְּדִיחִין שָׁם הָיוּ מְדִיחִין קִרְבֵי הַקָּדָשִׁים וּמִשָּׁם מְסִבָּה עוֹלָה לְגַג בֵּית הַפַּרְוָה. וְהַשָּׁלֹשׁ שֶׁבִּצְפוֹן לִשְׁכַּת הַגָּזִית. לִשְׁכַּת הַגּוֹלָה. לִשְׁכַּת הָעֵץ. לִשְׁכַּת הַגָּזִית שֶׁבָּהּ סַנְהֶדְרִי גְּדוֹלָה יוֹשֶׁבֶת. וְחֶצְיָהּ הָיָה קֹדֶשׁ וְחֶצְיָהּ הָיָה חֹל. וְלָהּ שְׁנֵי פְּתָחִים אֶחָד לַקֹּדֶשׁ וְאֶחָד לְחל וּבַחֵצִי שֶׁל חֹל הָיוּ הַסַּנְהֶדְרִין יוֹשְׁבִין. לִשְׁכַּת הַגּוֹלָה שָׁם הָיְתָה בּוֹר שֶׁמְּמַלְּאִין מִמֶּנּוּ בַּגּוֹלָה וּמִשָּׁם מְסַפְּקִין מַיִם לְכָל הָעֲזָרָה. וְלִשְׁכַּת הָעֵץ הָיְתָה אֲחוֹרֵי שְׁתֵּיהֶן וְהִיא הָיְתָה לִשְׁכַּת כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל וְהִיא הַנִּקְרֵאת לִשְׁכַּת פַּרְהֶדְרִין. וְגַג שְׁלָשְׁתָּן שָׁוֶה. וּשְׁתֵּי לְשָׁכוֹת אֲחֵרוֹת הָיוּ שָׁם בְּעֶזְרַת יִשְׂרָאֵל. אַחַת מִימִין שַׁעַר מִזְרָחִי וְהוּא לִשְׁכַּת פִּינְחָס הַמַּלְבִּישׁ. וְאֶחָד מִשְּׂמֹאלוֹ וְהוּא לִשְׁכַּת עוֹשֶׂה חֲבִיתִין:

Test Yourself on This Chapter

Footnotes
1.

The commentaries, basing themselves on the Jerusalem Talmud (Eruvin 2:5), explain that this figure was derived as follows:

Exodus 27:18 states: 'The length of the courtyard shall be 100 cubits and its width, 50 by 50.' This verse can obviously not be understood literally, for area has only two coordinates. Hence, the Sages explained that rather than refer to the courtyard of the Tabernacle, the verse describes a measure related to the future Sanctuaries. The Temple Tabernacle, the verse describes a measure related to the future Sanctuaries. The Temple Mount measured a total of 50 x 100 x 50 cubits in area, i.e., a total of 250,000 sq. cubits.

The Piskei Tosafot (Middot 5) relate that the total area of the Temple Mount was greater than 250,000 sq. cubits. However, only the latter figure was consecrated.

2.

With the exception of the wall on the eastern side, the walls on all sides were very high. We know that their gates were 20 cubits high and the walls themselves were even higher. In modern terms, that would mean at least 10 meters (32.5 feet high).

3.

Tumat Ohel refers to ritual impurity contracted by being under the same tent or structure as a corpse. Even thought the corpse is buried, ritual impurity can be contracted unless there is a vacant space between the corpse and the earth above it. To prevent the possibility of impurity from a grave under the Temple courtyard, the entire earth below was hollowed out. See Parah 3:3.

4.

Though the Mishnah (Parah, loc. cit.) states that the earth beneath the Temple was hollowed out, it does not mention the construction of arches. However, since the Mishnah (ibid.:6) states that arches supported the ramp leading from the Temple Mount to the Mount of Olives, we may assume that a similar technique was used in the instance (Kessef Mishneh). See also the commentary to Chapter 1, Halachah 13.

5.

With the exception of the Temple Courtyard.

6.

Rashi (Pesachim 13a) explains that this roof was built to protect the visitors to the Temple fom rain.

7.

Middot 1:3 relates that this gate was called Kaiphonus. The Shiltei Giborim explains that this means 'garden' in Greek. The name was given because a rose was planted outside this gate.

8.

This gate was called the Gate of Shushan, and the image of the city of Shushan was engraved upon it. This was done at the command of King Cyrus of Persia, who gave permission for the Temple to be rebuilt.

9.

It was called the Tadi gate, meaning 'hiddenness.' This gate was used when someone was forced to leave the Temple, but he did not want to publicize the circumstances (Middot 1:9, 2:2). Its construction differed from that of the other gates. Rather than have an ordinary lintel, it had two stones leaning against each other (ibid.:3).

10.

These were the gates most frequently used to enter the Temple Mount. They were named after the prophetess Chuldah. In the time of the First Temple, she stood before these gates and urged the people to repent.

The tractate Sofrim 19:12 relates that there were two additional gates to the Temple Mount: one for mourners and one for grooms. The Jewish people would sit between these two gates waiting to console the mourners and join in the celebration of the grooms. The Kaftor ViPerach states that these gates were on the east, to the north of the gate of Shushan. They were called the 'gates of mercy.' Today, the term is used to refer to the two gates on the east side of the Temple Mount, which can be seen from the Mount of Olives and are permanently shut.

11.

This was the standard size of the gates in the Temple complex.

12.

In contrast to the gateway to the Entrance Hall, which had no doors.

13.

Made of wooden shafts arranged in a crisscross pattern.

14.

Rabbenu Asher explains that this structure was constructed to allow the articles to be carried on the Sabbath. Therefore, it was made 10 handbreadths high. The Temple Mount was surrounded by a wall and, therefore, could not be considered a public domain. Nonetheless, its size exceeded the limits placed by the Sages, and without this partition, there would have been a Rabbinic against carrying on the Sabbath.

The Tosafot Yom TOv (Middot 2:3) objects to this reasoning, explaining that the Rabbinic prohibitions regarding the Sabbath were generally relaxed within the Temple premises. Instead, he offers the hypothesis that this partition served to delineate the point beyond which gentiles were not allowed to proceed.

15.

Middot 2:3 states: 'The Chayl, ten cubits.' In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Middot 1:4), the Rambam describes the Chayl as a rampart. He, therefore, interprets this statement as referring to its height. In contrast, Rav Ovadiah of Bartinura does not define the Chayl as a wall. Rather, he refers to it as an empty space, 10 cubits wide.

16.

In this halachah, the Rambam does not mention the Women's Courtyard (See Halachah 7), because he intends to list the dividers which circumscribe an area of the Temple Mount on all four sides. The Women's Courtyard had the same dimensions as the Temple Courtyard on the north and south. Hence, it was not mentioned in this place.

17.

See Halachot 12 and where the Rambam details the space allocation of the Temple Courtyard.

18.

This statement raises a number of problems: Three mishnayot in the tractate of Middot mention the number of gates to the Temple Courtyard:

Mishnah 1:1 states: "The Levites [stood guard] in twenty one places: five at the five gates of the Temple Courtyard...."

Mishnah 1:4 states: "There were seven gates to the Temple Courtyard...."

Mishnah 2:6 states: "Thirteen prostrations were carried out there. Abba Yossi ben Chanan declared: 53[These were instituted] because of the thirteen gates... 54

It is difficult to conceive that the Mishnah would contradict itself within the same tractate. The apparent discrepancies can be explained as follows: The Sages do not disagree about the number of entrances to the Temple Courtyard. They did, however, debate the question of which entrance met the legal criteria for a gate. Guards were required to stand watch over every entrance that was considered a gate.

Similarly, although a person who is ritually impure may not enter the Temple premises, it is not clear whether he would be obligated to bring a sin offering if he came in through an entrance which is not considered a gate. See Chapter 8, Halachah 8, and Likkutei Sichot, Vol. 18, p.212-217.

19.

These gates were:

a) the gate of the spark. A two-floor structure with an entrance to the chayl.

b) the gate of the offerings. The most sacrifices of the highest order of sanctity, were slaughtered on the north side of the courtyard, and were brought in through this gate.

c) the gate to the Chamber of the Hearth. See Halachah 10.

20.

The Gate of Nicanor. It was most commonally used to enter the Temple Courtyard. The notes to the following halachah offers an explanation of that name.

21.

This was the standard size of the gates on the Temple Mount.

22.

See Chapter 1, Halachot 11 and 19.

23.

As mentioned in the beginning of Chapter 6, the Temple was built on an incline and had steps leading from the Women's Courtyard to the gate of Nicanor. Hence, the gate leading to the Women's Courtyard was referred to as the lower gate, and the gate of Nicanor, the Upper Gate. See Hilchot Klei HaMikdash, Chapter 7, Mishnah 6.

24.

In honor of the noble person who donated its doors.

Yoma 38a relates that Nicanor journeyed to Alexandria to ask the skilled bronzeworkers there to fashion these gates. When the gates were finished, he set sail with them to return to Eretz Yisrael.

At sea, a violent storm almost capsized the vessel. After other measures failed, the crew members decided to jettison some of the ship's cargo to reduce its weight. Immediately, they tossed one of the heavy bronzed gates to the waves.

The danger did not cease, and the crew wanted to cast the second gate overboard as well. Hearing this, Nicanor protested and declared that he would have to be thrown into the sea before the gate. Directly after he made that statement, the storm subsided and the ship was able to proceed.

Throughout the remainder of the journey, Nicanor was overcome with remorse. Why, he thought, hadn't he defended the first gate as well? How great was his joy when the ship docked at Acre and the gate emerged from under its hull.

When the financial situation of the Jewish people improved, they replaced all the Temple's bronze gates with gold-covered gates. Nevertheless, they allowed Nicanor's gates to remain in memory of the miracles which occurred. The Sages declared: "Their bronze shined like gold."

25.

As mentioned above (Halachah 2), the main entrance to the Temple Mount was on the South. Therefore, more space was left in this direction, and more Temple functions were carried out on that side.

26.

In deference to the Holy of Holies, no mundane business was carried on behind it. Hence, less space was left there than in the other directions.

According to most opinions, the Wailing Wall at which we worship today, is the western wall which surrounded the Temple Mount (Kaftor Viperach).

27.

The Tosafot Yom Tov calculated the distances between the Temple Courtyard and the walls as follows:

Between the Courtyard and the southern wall, 250 cubits,

Between the Courtyard and the eastern wall, 213 cubits,

Between the Courtyard and the northern wall, 115 cubits,

Between the Courtyard and the western wall, 100 cubits.

28.

The reason for this name is explained in Halachah 9 and notes.

29.

Except for certain unique circumstances, people entered the Temple through this area.

30.

The chambers were inside the walls of the Courtyard, and not on the outside.

31.

The Mishnah (Middot 2:5) bases the latter statement on the prophecy of Ezekiel (46:21-22): "Then he took me out into the outer courtyard.... Behold, there was a chamber in each corner of the courtyard. At the four corners, there were roofless chambers...."

32.

The chamber to the left upon entering the Women's Courtyard.

33.

Numbers 6:18 commands: "The Nazirite shall shave off the crown of hair on his head before the Tent of Meeting. He shall take the hair... and place it in the fire under the peace offering." Nazir 45a explains that, in deference to the presence of the Shechinah, the shaving was not carried out before the Sanctuary itself, but rather in this chamber, while the door to the Sanctuary was open. See also Hilchot Nizirut 8:2-3.

34.

The chamber to the right upon entering.

35.

Leviticus 21:16-24 lists the physical deformities which disqualified a priest for Temple service and the relevant regulations. See also Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash, Chapter 6.

36.

Just as the choicest animals should be chosen for the sacrifices, so too, the wood used to burn them should be of the highest quality (Hilchot Issurei Mizbeiach, 6:1-2).

37.

The chamber on the right side before the entrance to the Temple Courtyard.

38.

It contained a mikveh in which those seeking purification from tzara'at immersed themselves as part of their process of regaining ritual purity. See Hilchot Michusrei Kapporah, Chapter 4.

39.

The chamber on the left side before the entrance to the Temple Courtyard.

40.

Its name mentioned oil rather than wine, because a sacrifice is acceptable if a wine libation is lacking. In contrast, all meal offerings are invalidated if they lack oil (Yeriat Shlomo).

41.

Women were not allowed to enter the Temple Courtyard except to perform certain rituals in connection with sacrifices which they had brought. However, they were permitted to enter this outer courtyard and therefore, it was named accordingly.

42.

The Mishnah (Middot 2:5) relates that these balconies were a later addition to the Temple structure.

On the festival of Sukkot, the entire Jewish nation would gather in this courtyard to watch the Simchat Beit HaShoevah celebrations (the festivities associated with the water libation). Though the men and the women were seated in separate sections, the closeness between them aroused a certain dimension of frivolity which was not appropriate to the holiness of the occasion. To avoid such circumstances, these balconies were constructed. See also Sukkot 51b.

43.

Although the Kessef Mishneh and other commentaries explain that half of the Chamber of the Hearth was positioned within the Temple Courtyard, and half on the outside, the diagrams drawn by the Rambam depict it as being positioned entirely outside the Courtyard's walls.

44.

To the right upon entering the Temple Courtyard.

45.

As a roof.

46.

On which the priests slept at night (Tamid 1:1).

47.

Because the priests kindled a fire there to keep warm.

48.

Each morning, the priests entered the Courtyard through this entrance to prepare it for the morning sacrifices.

49.

A priest who became impure at night and therefore, could not participate in the Temple services would leave through this exit.

50.

Middot 1:5 describes the chambers as resembling "bedrooms opening out to a large hallway."

Note the accompanying diagram which was copied from the Rambam's drawings in his Commentary to the Mishnah.

51.

Thus they were considered extensions of the Temple Courtyard. This distinction is significant in regard to the prohibition against eating the sacrifices of the highest degree of sanctity outside the Temple Courtyard.

52.

According to the interpretation of the Kessef Mishneh mentioned above, this statement is quite clear. Two chambers were situated inside the Temple Courtyard, and two were on the outside. However, according to the Rambam, the entire structure was situated outside the Temple Courtyard. If so, how could two structures be consecrated?

This difficulty can be resolved as follows: The Jerusalem Talmud (Ma'aser Sheni 3:4) states that chambers which are built on ground that was not consecrated, but which open up to the Temple Courtyard, are considered as consecrated. Should they open up to the outside, they are not sacred. According to the Rambam's diagram, the two southern chambers of the Chamber of the Hearth faced the Temple Courtyard, while the two northern chambers faced the chayl. Hence, the southern chambers alone were consecrated. See also Chapter 6, Halachah 8.

53.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah, the Rambam defines "marking posts" as "a lattice divider, sometimes made of reeds, sometimes made of wood, and at other times, made of other building materials." They were placed on the ceiling of this structure.

54.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Tamid, loc. cit.), the Rambam writes that the priests only slept in the part of the chamber which was not consecrated. Hence, these marking posts were useful in clarifying this matter to them.

55.

The chamber to the right when facing the Temple Courtyard.

56.

Here the lambs to be offered as daily sacrifices were inspected to see if they had any disqualifying blemishes. The lambs were kept in this chamber before they were sacrificed. In Hilchot Temidim UMusafim 1:9, the Rambam writes that at least six lambs were always kept in this chamber.

57.

The chamber to the left when facing the Temple Courtyard.

16The southeastern [chamber] - The chamber to the left when facing the Temple Courtyard.

58.

Here, the Showbread offered each Sabbath on the Golden Table was baked.

59.

See Chapter 1, Halachah 15.

60.

The Greeks who occupied Jerusalem before the Maccabean revolt defiled the altar by offering sacrifices to idols upon it.

Tamid 3:3 mentions that there was a Chamber of Seals within the Chamber of the Hearth. There, the priests would authorize the sale of the wine and meal offerings. In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Middot 1:5), the Rambam explains that this chamber was used for that purpose in addition to the entombment of the altar's stones.

61.

As explained in the following halachah.

62.

Tamid 1:1 relates that the priests slept in the Chamber of the Hearth. "If one of them had a seminal emission [in his sleep,] he would descend to the mikveh."

The emission of semen renders a man ritually impure (Leviticus 15:16). Thus, a priest who had a nocturnal emission may not enter the Temple premises or take part in its services. The process of ritual purification involves immersion in a mikveh and waiting until nightfall. In the morning, the priest left the Temple premises through the gate leading to the chayl (Tamid, loc. cit.).

63.

An intricate chain of underground passageways was located under the Temple Mount, including this stairwell leading to a natural reservoir of water where a mikveh was constructed.

This halachah raises a question. As mentioned above, in this condition, the priests were not able to enter the Temple premises. If so, how could they enter these passageways which passed under consecrated ground?

The commentaries answer (see Chapter 8, Halachah 7) that since these underground passageways did not open to the Temple Courtyard itself, they were not consecrated. See Pesachim 86a.

64.

The fire that the priests kindled at night, from which the entire chamber derived its name. See Tamid 3:3.

65.

I.e., a toilet.

66.

Rav Ovadiah of Bartinura wrote that no one ever entered this toilet while it was occupied by another person.

There are additional references to the Chamber of the Hearth and to the stairwell leading to the mikveh in Chapter 8, Halachot 5-7.

67.

This measure did not include the width of the courtyard's walls.

68.

As explained above, Chapter 3, Halachah 4.

69.

The washbasin and the steps leading to the Entrance Hall (See Chapter 6, Halachah 4) were located here.

70.

See Chapter 2, Halachah 7.

71.

When they were not directly involved with the Temple services.

72.

See Chapter 1, Halachah 7.

73.

As explained in Chapter 7, Halachah 19, an Israelite was only allowed beyond this region for four reasons:

a) to perform semichah on an animal he had brought as a sacrifice;

b) to offer the confessional prayers that accompany the sacrifices;

c) to slaughter a sacrificial animal;

d) to wave the peace offerings.

The source for this halachah and those following is the fifth chapter of the tractate of Middot. It must be noted that the Rambam's text of the Mishnah does not have a fifth chapter. Rather, all these mishnayot are included as mishnah 8 of Chapter 3.

See the diagram of the Temple Courtyard at the conclusion of this chapter.

74.

The Rambam describes the breakdown of this figure in this and the following three halachot.

75.

In this instance as well, the width of the courtyard's walls are not included in the total measure.

76.

This area included eight posts permanently affixed to the floor of the Courtyard. The posts were made of a short stone pillar in which was embedded a post of cedar wood. Each post had three iron hooks from which the sacrifices were suspended (Middot 3:5).

77.

Also, at this time, the limbs of the animal which was suspended on these hooks were cut off, and given to the priests to bring to the altar.

78.

Middot 5:2 states as follows:

The ramp and the altar took up 62 cubits. From the altar to the rings, there were eight cubits. The area of the rings was 24 cubits wide. There were four cubits between the rings and the tables, and four cubits from the tables to the short pillars. From the short pillars to the wall of the Courtyard were eight cubits. The remainder [of the 5 cubits] was taken up by the short pillars and by the space between the ramp and [the Courtyard's northern] wall.

The Rambam's interpretation of the mishnah divides the 25 remaining cubits equally between the area of the pillars, the butchering area mentioned in the previous halachah, and the space between the ramp and the southern wall. The Rambam also combined the two measurements given for the space of the tables into one figure (Kessef Mishneh).

79.

As mentioned on several occasions above, an effort was made to use gold for all utensils in the Temple. However, marble was sometimes used, because it is a poorer conductor of heat. In this case as well, marble tables were used lest the heat cause the meat to spoil.

80.

This statement is somewhat difficult. Tamid 4:2 states that a sacrificial animal's internal organs, except for its stomach, were washed on these tables. It does not mention the washing of the meat at all. The Rambam states that the internal organs were washed in the Washing Chamber (see Halachah 17) and that these tables were used for washing the meat. The commentaries question the source for the Rambam's statements (Ra'avad). Kin'at Eliyahu emphasizes that the Rambam's wording indicates that here we are not speaking about meat offered on the altar, but meat cooked and eaten by the priests.

81.

As a preliminary stage in the process of salting meat, the meat must be washed to remove all surface blood.

82.

See Shekalim 3:4.

Tosafot (Yoma 16b) notes that Yoma 30b describes the tables as being placed between the pillars. Two possible explanations are offered:

a) there were two sets of tables: one between the pillars, and one to their left;

b) even though there was a small gap between the pillars and the tables, the expression "between the tables" could be used.

83.

These rings were permanently affixed to the floor of the Temple Courtyard, at the request of Yochanan, the High Priest. The feet of an animal brought as a sacrifice were placed inside the rings to hold the animal in place while it was being slaughtered. (See the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah 5:2. Note Rashi, Sukkah 56a for a different interpretation of the rings' use.)

84.

There were 24 rings. There is a debate in Middot 3:5 whether there were six rows of four rings, or four rows of six. Though the Rambam does not specify which opinion he follows, his diagrams which accompany his Commentary to the Mishnah apparently tend toward the former opinion.

85.

As mentioned in Halachah 16, the sacrifices of the most sacred order had to be slaughtered in the northern portion of the courtyard. The rings included in that region were therefore used for this purpose. The sacrifices of a lesser degree of holiness could be slaughtered any place within the Temple courtyard. When many people brought their sacrifices at the same time, for example on the festivals, the priests took advantage of this leniency.

Note the accompanying diagram.

86.

See Middot 3:5.

87.

See Chapter 2, Halachah 7.

88.

See Chapter 2, Halachah 13.

89.

See the notes to Halachah 14 of this chapter.

90.

The wall on the right upon entering.

91.

More specifically, the base of the altar.

92.

That measurement can be broken down as follows:

the space between the pillars and the northern wall 8 cubits,

the area of the pillars 12.5 cubits,

the area of the tables 8 cubits,

the area of the rings 24 cubits,

the space between the rings and the altar 8 cubits.

93.

See Halachah 12.

94.

Leviticus 1:11 declares that the burnt offerings are to be slaughtered "on the north side of the altar." Similar instructions were given in regard to sin offerings, guilt offerings, and communal peace offerings.

This definition of "the northern portion" of the Temple Courtyard follows the opinion of Rebbi Yehudah HaNasi (Zevachim 20a).

95.

See Middot 5:3, 4 and 1:4.

96.

These chambers were not situated parallel to each other.

97.

The side of the Temple Courtyard to the left when facing the Temple building.

98.

This chamber was named after a Gentile magician who dug an tunnel under the Temple Courtyard to observe the services. He was discovered and killed on the spot (the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah, Middot 5:3).

99.

The Rambam writes in Hilchot Issurei HaMizbayach 5:11:

It is a positive commandment to salt all sacrifices before they are brought up to the altar, as in Leviticus 2:13: "You shall offer salt on all your sacrifices."

In Halachah 13 there, he continues:

They placed salt [on the sacrifices] in three places: in the Chamber of Salt, on the ramp [leading to the altar,] and on the top of the altar.

The Lechem Mishneh explains that salt for all the Temple's needs was stored in this chamber.

100.

The hides of the sacrifices were given to the priests for their private use. They were treated with salt to preserve them.

16There is a difficulty with this halachah. In Hilchot Issurei Mizbeiach (loc. cit.), the Rambam states that the hides were salted in the Chamber of Salt. The Lechem Mishneh resolves that difficulty by explaining that although the salt was stored in the Chamber of Salt, the actual salting of the hides was carried out in Parve's Chamber.

101.

On Yom Kippur, the High Priest immersed himself in the mikveh five times. Except for the first immersion, all were carried out in this mikveh (Yoma 3:3).

102.

As mentioned previously in Halachah 14, there is a slight difficulty with this statement. Tamid 4:2 states that the internal organs were washed on the tables, except for the lower digestive organs. They were not washed in the open since it was not proper to spill out their contents before the Temple building. However, the Rambam goes beyond that source and states that all internal organs were washed in this chamber.

103.

Allowing access to the mikveh located there.

104.

The name "Chamber of Wood" is somewhat problematic. As mentioned in Chapter 1, Halachah 9, it is forbidden to build a chamber of wood in the Temple Courtyard. The commentaries explain that the chamber itself was not made of wood. However, it was given that name either because it was used to store wood or because it had wooden paneling.

105.

Only kings from the House of David were allowed to sit in the Temple Courtyard (Yoma 25a).

106.

This name was given because of the seats of hewn stone upon which the Sanhedrin were seated. Two reasons are given for the placement of Israel's highest court in the Temple Courtyard. Firstly, to a large extent, they were involved with judging cases related to the priesthood (Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 6:11).

Secondly, the holiness of the Temple inspired their decisions and provided them with additional insight. Once the Sanhedrin was forced to leave this site, it was not granted the authority to judge capital cases.

107.

Considered as part of the Temple Courtyard.

108.

Commenting on the Mishnah, the Rambam states that the chamber was situated entirely within the Courtyard. Nevertheless, half is considered unconsecrated because one entrance opened to the outside. In Chapter 6, Halachah 7, the Rambam states that even if a chamber is built within the Courtyard, if it opens to the outside, it is not considered consecrated. The Chamber of Hewn Stone had two entrances, one leading into the Temple Courtyard and one leading outside. Therefore, half was consecrated and half was not.

Nevertheless, there are unresolved difficulties concerning this Halachah. Among them:

a) How was it possible for all the judges and the students who would attend the sessions of the Sanhedrin to sit in so small an area?

b) Which entrance leading from the Courtyard is referred to? It was not mentioned among the seven gates mentioned in Halachah 5:4 or even among the 13 gates listed in Middot 2:6.

109.

Seven days before Yom Kippur, the High Priest left his own home and adjourned to this chamber, where he busied himself, preparing for the service of that holy day (Yoma 2a).

Yoma 8b (note Rashi's commentary) explains that the name Parhedrin meant "officer of the king." This name was given to this chamber in the days of the Second Temple when the High Priests would purchase this office from the king at a high price.

These "High Priests" were not righteous and as a sign of Divine retribution, they would die within a year of assuming office. Upon their death, the position would be sold again. To emphasize that these "High Priests" received the position through bribery and not through merit, they were referred to as "the officers of the king."

110.

Rav Ovadiah of Bartinura explains that one roof was placed over all three buildings. However, the Rambam's diagrams do not appear to subscribe to this idea.

111.

See Middot 1:4.

112.

The clothes-butler was responsible for weaving and knitting the priestly garments (Hilchot Klai HaMikdash 7:20).

According to the commentaries (Shekalim 5:1), the first person entrusted with this task in the second Temple was named Pinchas. Hence, all his successors were called by that name.

113.

This term refers to a meal offering, prepared in a frying pan. The product resembled pancakes. This offering was prepared every day in this chamber and brought by the High Priest, as commanded in Leviticus 6:13-15.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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