Monday, August 18, 2014

Preview of the Temple Mount's Eastern Gateway

Currently I am modeling the eastern gateway of the Temple Mount and the walkway which led from the gateway to the Mount of Olives, further to the east. This gateway was also called the Shushan Gate, named for the depiction of the city of Shushan painted above it which served to remind all those entering this gate that it was the Persian Empire which had granted the Jews permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Creating a LEGO® Minifig Kohen

Transforming a standard LEGO minifigure into a Kohen fit for the sacrificial service requires dressing him in the four priestly vestments worn by the Kohanim: pants, robe, belt, and turban.

It is not necessary to model the pants since they were more like knickers and not visible beneath the robe.

The simplest way to create a Kohen robed in white is to use a white torso and legs. Although the "robe" look is lost when you reach the legs, this design offers the most flexibility in terms of posing the minifig for different parts of the sacrificial service:

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Keys of the Heichal

The Ninth of Av is a day upon which many tragedies occurred for the Jewish people, foremost among them the destruction of the First and Second Temples. The events surrounding the Temple's destruction are recorded in various historical sources and religious texts, and many of these found their way into the current liturgy of the day. I would like to look at the following incident, referenced in Kinnah 32, which occurred during the final hours of the First Temple era (recorded by the Gemara, Taanis 29a):
Many groups of young Kohanim gathered together with the keys to the Heichal [Sanctuary] in their hands. They ascended to the roof of the Heichal and called out, "Master of the World! Since we have not merited to be faithful treasurers the keys shall be transferred back to You!" They threw the keys heavenward and the form of a hand appeared and took the keys from them. The Kohanim then threw themselves from the roof into the burning remnants of the Temple below.
The Heichal had but one gateway, so if the keys mentioned here were to that gateway why does the Gemara refer to them in the plural? The Gemara also implies that each of the many groups of Kohanim was holding one or more of the keys (otherwise it could have stated simply that "many young Kohanim gathered together...") — just how many keys did the gateway have? And why do the Kohanim refer to themselves as "treasurers" [גזברין]?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Water Rockets and Raven Chasers

Iron roof tile with spikes for the
roof of the Sanctuary Building.
One of our family's pastimes is launching homemade water rockets at the park, and over the past few years we have also been bringing the rockets to our shul's annual barbecue where they have become an unofficial part of the day's activities. About a week before the big day we were out in the front yard doing some test flights when one of the rockets hit an ill wind and was blown off course. This is not really a problem since they are so light that they roll, or bounce, off any roof they land on. Usually.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Omni Wheels in the Temple

SUMMARY Omni wheels might be what King Solomon had in mind when he built his laver stands with "a wheel within a wheel."

Basic design of a First Temple laver stand.
In the First Temple, King Solomon built ten moveable stands [מְּכֹנוֹת] which supported the ten lavers [כִּיֹּרֹת] that stood in the Courtyard. These stands are described in I Kings 7:27-37 in very cryptic language, although the basic idea which emerges is that the stand was a type of wagon with four wheels and the laver rested on top of it. One drawback of the standard wagon design is that it can only be rolled forward or backward but cannot be steered. If the stand did need to be turned one way or the other, it would have to be done by pushing or pulling on one end, a difficult task considering that the stand was made of copper and quite heavy — just the laver itself, when full of water, weighed over 5000 pounds! While it is possible that a method of steering the stand was built into the design, the verses do not seem to indicate that this was so.