Sunday, August 06, 2006


In the first Beis HaMikdash, there was a wall separating the Kodesh from the Kodesh HaKadashim, with a curtain in the middle. In the second Beis HaMikdash, there was no wall and either 1 or 2 curtains. According to Yechekel’s accounting of the third Beis Mikdash, the entrance to the Kodesh HaKadashim will be 6 amos by 7 amos, which sounds again like the case of a wall with a paroches in the middle.

When describing the blood applications for the Incense Altar, the Gemara discusses at some length the different opinions for what corner should be started at. This is based on the two opinions for whether there was 1 curtain or 2, since one opinion had the Kohen Gadol emerging from the North, and the other from the South. The Gemara never discusses the order that was used for the Incense Altar applications in the first Beis HaMikdash, where the Kohel Gadol presumably emerged from the center. Given that it seems like the Third Beis HaMikdash will be more like the first, and the second is already destroyed, (a) why does the Gemara spend time discussing issues pertaining to the second temple curtains, which will never again be relevant, and (b) why does the Gemara NOT discuss how this procedure was done in the first Temple, which is more likely to have relevance to the third Temple?

There are a number of other places already covered in Yoma where a similar question could be asked, but I only thought of it here.

Michael Post


Rafi G. said...

the question is a good one. I think though that basic history and a chronological timeline might shed some light as to the answer.

I would suggest that the tannaim (and amoraim discussing the words of the tannaim) lived during the Second Temple period. They are discussing things they actually saw or at least topics that were fairly recently relevant. Thnigs might still have been fresh in their minds, and they were able to possibly even see the enets (some of them) and locations under discussion (depending on when they lived).

The first Temple had been a long time ago. It was also a structure they had never seen nor was it fresh in anybodys memory. The first Temple had been in the time of the neviim and melochim, well before the tannaim and amoraim of the mishna ever came to be...

This they discussed the second Temple, because that is all they could discuss with authority...


The first beis hamikdash

Rafi G. said...

I think the answer to your question might lie in an understanding of the historical and chronological events of the Talmud.

The First Temple was during the time period of the neviim and melochim. The second temple was later, in the time period of the Tannaim and Amoraim.

The discussions in the Mishna and Gemara naturally revolve around the second Beias Hamikdash. They (or at least some of them) were there to actually see what happened and how things looked. Those who were later at least had their parents, rebeim, etc. who did see it.

Naturally they would have discusses what they saw in the second temple rather than what they had no way of knowing about oprocedures in the first Beis Hamikdash.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the second Beis HaMikdash is cited:
1. because precedent was readily available -- R. Yishmael Ben Elisha, Shimon HaTzaddik, etc. -- there were Tannaim who entered the Kodesh HaKadashim and had Talmidim who could claim to have a Mesorah as to what took place, whereas the procedure in the first Beis HaMikdash was a distant memory by the earliest writing of Torah SheB'Al Peh.
2. Two parochos presented a more complex scenario- which side to enter, which to exit- than one and thus potentially more to derive, more Torah to expound from than the one-paroches situation, and distilling the essence from that situation would prove useful to understanding the whole inyan of entering the Kodesh HaKodashim, not merely the procedure that needs to be done?

Anonymous said...

The Mishnayos, upon which all Gemara discussion is based, were written by tanoim, many of whom were alive during the functioning of the second bais Hamikdash. They were dealing with what was nogea to them personally, b'yomeihen

Anonymous said...

Two thoughts-
1. A mesorah was much more readily available about that which was done in Bayis Sheini since there were Tanna'im who were Kohanim Gedolim (R. Yishmael Ben Elisha, Shimon HaTzaddik, etc.) who had Talmidim to whom they could have passed along Mesorah, despite the fact that no one else could be in the Heichal to see what they were doing.
2. Bayis Sheini was a more complicated situation, with two Parochos, and more teaching points re the essence of entry to Kodesh HaKadashim could be derived from a more complicated setup?