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Middos 2:4-5

Middos 2:4

All the Temple walls were tall except for the eastern wall. This one was short so that the kohein who burned the parah adumah (red heifer) while standing on the Mount of Olives could turn and see the door of the Sanctuary when the blood was sprinkled.

Middos 2:5

The women’s courtyard was a 135 cubits by a 135 cubits (approximately 203’x203’). There were four chambers in its four corners, each 40 cubits by 40 cubits (approximately 60’x60’). These chambers had no roofs and they will remain unroofed in the third Temple as per Ezekiel 46:21-22: “He brought me to the outer court and caused me to pass by the four corners of the courtyard. Behold, there was a courtyard in the corner of the courtyard, a courtyard in the corner of the courtyard – in the four corners of the courtyard there were smoking courtyards.” They were smoking because they didn’t have roofs. The southeastern chamber was for the nazirites; this was where they would boil their peace offerings and shave their hair, throwing it under the pot. The northeastern chamber was for the wood; this was where kohanim who had blemishes would check the logs for worms. Any log that had a worm in it was unfit for use on the altar. The northwestern chamber was for those with tzaraas (“lepers” but not really). Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov (who authored tractate Middos) said that he didn’t remember what the southwestern chamber was used for. Abba Shaul says that this chamber was where oil and wine were stored and it was called the oil-storage chamber. The women’s courtyard was originally level but they eventually surrounded it with a balcony so that the women could watch from above while the men stood below, thereby avoiding mixing. Fifteen steps led from the women’s courtyard to the Israelite courtyard, corresponding to the 15 “Songs of Ascents” in the book of Psalms because the Leviim would sing those Psalms on these steps. These steps weren’t straight; they were curved like half of a threshing floor (i.e., a semicircle).

Author: Rabbi Jack Abramowitz