Thursday, 14 June 2018

Zevachim 62: Placement of the Altar, The Gap Between the Altar and the Ramp

Today's daf begins with the rabbis attempting to understand how the builders of the Second Temple were able to locate the exact placement of the altar.  The foundation served as a clear and simple map of the Temple to be rebuilt.  They tell the story of three prophets who returned with the Jews to the site of the Temple.  One showed the size and shape of the altar, one showed where the altar should stand, and one reminded everyone that even without the Temple, sacrifices were made on the altar.  

The rabbis go on to debate and describe where the altar should be placed according to known measurements.  As part of this argument, some of the younger rabbis are compared with "the children of Keturah".  Keturah was Abraham's lesser known wife.  Her children with Abraham's children were seemingly of less stature or intelligence than Isaac, the child of Sarah and Abraham.

The remainder of today's daf discusses building the ramp that leads to the altar.  The rabbis discuss the logs used for building - their size and shape and how the ramp is built.  There is a gap between the ramp and the altar itself, and the rabbis wonder how big that gap might be.  They discuss the flesh and blood that might be tossed from the altar.  Might they have been tossed over the gap?  Or onto the wood arranged for burning nearby?

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