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Yoma 33a - position of the golden altar

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1 Yoma 33a - position of the golden altar on Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:24 pm

The gemara says that the מזבח הזהב, the golden altar, was positioned in the heichal between the menorah and the shulkhan. Only, it was "moved a little to the east" (Rashi: משוך כלפי מזרח קימעא) so that the two of them could see one another (בעינן דחזו להדייהו); the verse says "המנורה נוכח השלחן".
So I wasn't clear how far the golden altar had to be moved. Rashi says קמעא, a little, so it sounds as though seeing one another a little would be enough. However, even without moving they see one another a little. The golden altar is one amah by one amah, the table is much bigger and so is the menorah. From the description of Rashi Shmos 25(35), it sounds as if the side branches go up 10 tefachim at an angle, which I guess might make it 10 tefachim to each side as well, more than three amos wide. It would be especially true according to the opinion that the menorah faced east-west.
But see Rashi Shmos 26(35):
.המזבח והשלחן והמנורה משוכים מן הפתח לצד מערב עשר אמות
Sure sounds like it was shifted only a little.

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2 Re: Yoma 33a - position of the golden altar on Thu May 22, 2014 2:27 pm

I think I have a clear proof from a later gemara in Yoma, 51b. The gemara there is figuring out the path of the Cohen Gadol on the way to the kodesh kodoshim. It says that there were ten (extra) shulkhanos in the Bais Hamikdash, and according to one opinion they were lined up north-south, in two rows. Each was 2 amos long, and none was allowed to reach the southern half of the heichal. So, explains Rashi, five must have been mamash packed in end-to-end, from wall to midpoint of the heichal, ten amos total. According to that opinion, the cohen gadol couldn't walk between the wall and the shulkhanos; there was no room at all. Rather, he walked between the mizbach hazahav and the shulkhanos.

But the mizbach hazahav was centered north-south, and would actually be occupying part of the same space that the shulkhanos were in, running up to the N-S midpoint. It must have been shifted far enough east to get out of the way (and a little more to let the cohen gadol squeeze between it and the shulkhanos).

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