Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Beis Hamikdash Topics in French Classroom

In the yeshivah high school Merkaz Hatorah in Le Raincy, France, Rabbi Yehouda Gabison was teaching his class maseches Tamid at the end of the school year. He came across this blog and was able to incorporate some of the images into his lesson plan. For more information about the yeshivah please visit the Merkaz Hatorah website.



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Timeline of the Tamid

I am preparing a new presentation for this summer called Timeline of the Tamid which will be a walkthrough of the entire morning Tamid service. One of the things I hope to clarify is the schedule of when all these events took place — the time of day and how long they took. I think most people will be surprised to learn just how early in the morning the Tamid was offered each day!

There are only a handful of places in the Mishnah where actual times are referenced, and so the entire timeline is based upon establishing those times and then filling in the others as realistically as possible. These will be discussed in more detail below, but the two which become the most important are the first and last. We know that the day started when the Memuneh (a Temple official) arrived to conduct the first lottery, and the Mishnah says that he arrived around dawn (72 minutes before sunrise). We also know that the Kohanim recited Shema (one of the later steps in the Tamid service) earlier than the proper time, and the proper time is just before sunrise. This means that the bulk of the Tamid service — including the lamb's slaughter and blood applications — was completed in about an hour and took place before sunrise.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Showing the Table to the Masses

The Gemara on Menachos 96b states that on the three Festivals the Kohanim would raise the Golden Table of the Showbread for the people [gathered in the Courtyard] to see that the bread was as fresh as the day it was baked. This Gemara assumes that the bread could not be seen without the Table being raised and I was curious what the sight line would have looked like from the Israelites' Courtyard where the public would be gathered.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Chamber of the Lambs

The southwestern chamber of the Hall of the Fire was known as the Chamber of the Lambs. This room was where the Kohanim maintained a supply of lambs — inspected and found free of blemishes — which would be used for the daily Tamid-offerings. Since the lambs had to be inspected on each of the four days prior to their slaughter, and two lambs were offered each day, how many lambs were kept in the Chamber of the Lambs?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Inspecting the Courtyard in the Morning

Kohanim inspect the Courtyard by torchlight.
Each morning the Kohanim would do a walk-through of the Courtyard to make sure that all the utensils were in place for the day's avodah. The utensils, however, were still safely stored in the Chamber of Utensils at this point, so what, exactly, were the Kohanim inspecting?

Jbrick Introduces New Sets

Jbrick, the company which brings you Jewish-themed custom LEGO sets, is now expanding. They are introducing new sets which you can view on their jewcer crowdfunding page. Join me in helping this one-of-a-kind company reach their goal of creating quality LEGO Judaica.

Monday, February 9, 2015

View of the Chamber of the Lechem Hapanim

The southeastern chamber of the Hall of the Fire was used on Fridays to bake the lechem hapanim [show bread]. In this chamber the Kohanim would knead the dough, shape it into the lechem hapanim's unique shape using a golden form, and then bake the loaves two at a time in an oven. After they finished baking, the loaves were placed into another form to cool. The finished loaves were then transferred to a table within the Antechamber where they stayed until Shabbos when they were taken into the Sanctuary and placed upon the Golden Table. The loaves which had been on the Table from the previous week were removed and distributed among the Kohanim to eat.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Baking the Lechem Hapanim

One of the great mysteries of the Temple era is how the lechem hapanim [show bread] was baked. These were the twelve loaves of unleavened bread which were stored upon the Golden Table within the Sanctuary and distributed among the Kohanim each Shabbos. Only the members of the Garmu family knew how to produce these curiously shaped loaves and they jealously guarded their secret. Even so, from the Mishnah and Gemara we can get a better idea of just how they did it.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015

Two Views of the Chamber of the Stone House

Finding a red cow that meets all the halachic requirements of a parah adumah was a rare event in Temple times. In fact, from the construction of the Tabernacle through the era of the Second Temple — a period of over 1000 years — only nine such cows were found (Parah 3:5). Since this opportunity came along so infrequently, extreme care was taken to ensure that it was prepared in the utmost sanctity. One of these requirements is that the Kohen who would handle the ashes of the cow must be quarantined within a dedicated chamber in the Temple, and denied all human contact for fear of contracting tumah, for seven days.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Chamber of Shushan Habirah

Three 1-amah measuring sticks.
The Chamber of Shushan Habirah [the Capital] served as the repository for two different measuring sticks of the amah. In the northeast corner was a measuring stick that was half a fingerbreadth longer than a standard amah of six handbreadths and in the southeast corner was a stick that was a full fingerbreadth longer than a standard amah. This chamber had a depiction of the city of Shushan on its outer wall and this feature gave the chamber its name.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Introductory Slideshow for Maseches Tamid

On Thursday, December 25, 2014, I presented a slideshow at Kehillas Kol Torah in Baltimore. The head of their night seder chaburah, R' Shlomo Wiener, asked if I could give an introductory shiur on Maseches Tamid which they were to begin the following week.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Justification for Dismantling the Altar

One of the more shocking discoveries made by the Maccabees after expelling the Syrian-Greeks from the Temple was that the Outer Altar had been used for idol worship. Although the stones of the Altar were attached to the ground and legally impervious to the defilement of idol worship, the Jews felt that it was unconscionable to resume the holy sacrificial service on such stones. One of the lesser-known facts of the Chanukah story is that amidst the cleaning up of the Temple, searching for pure oil, and assembling a new Menorah, the Jews also dismantled the entire Altar and rebuilt it using new stones.

I had always been impressed with the lengths that the Sages went through to build a new Altar, but at the same time puzzled since all these efforts were technically unnecessary.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Jbrick: Custom, Jewish-Themed LEGO® Sets

I am pleased to announce that Yitzy Kasowitz, a colleague of mine in the field of LEGO®-inspired Jewish education, has started a new company called jbrick which produces custom, Jewish-themed LEGO® sets. Yitzy, who lives in Saint Paul, MN, has the dream job of designing LEGO® sets for Brickmania which specializes in historical and military models. While working at Brickmania, Yitzy has honed his building skills and developed many new and advanced techniques. His work at Brickmania has been featured in museums and LEGO® events throughout the country. Companies such as Brickmania and now jbrick use only authentic LEGO® components and combine these into models that are not available in the standard LEGO® line of sets.