ב׳ באייר ה׳תשע״ב (April 24, 2012)

Me’ilah 9a-b – The place of the ashes

As we learned on yesterday’s daf (=page), the second perek (=chapter) of Tractate Me’ilah focuses on how the laws of me’ilah affect korbanot that are not disqualified and are sacrificed on the altar. While the previous Mishnah taught the laws of a hatat ha-of (a bird that is brought as a sin-offering), the Mishnah on today’s daf discusses the case of olat ha-of (a bird that is brought as a burnt-offering). The rules of the olat ha-of are similar to those of the hatat ha-of. Once the bird is consecrated as a sacrifice, the laws of me’ilah will apply, and these laws remain in force even after it is slaughtered by means of melikah. In this case, however, even after the blood is placed on the altar, the laws of me’ilah continue to apply, since the burnt-offering is not eaten by the kohanim, and it is only after the sacrifice becomes permitted for personal use that the laws of me’ilah cease to apply (see above, daf 4). For this reason, the laws of me’ilah apply until the remains of the sacrifice are brought to the bet ha-deshen – the place of the ashes (see Vayikra 6:4).

The bet ha-deshen is a general name given to those places where the ashes from the altar were placed and where sacrifices that needed to be burned were taken. There were two such places in the Temple courtyard. One was on the eastern side of the ramp leading to the altar to the south of the altar which was where the daily collection of ash from the outer altar was taken, together with the ashes from the inner altar and the Menorah. This is also the place where the feathers and the crop of the sacrificial birds were taken (see Vayikra 1:16); according to the Gemara in Massekhet Yomathey were miraculously absorbed by the bet ha-deshen so that no one would accidentally derive forbidden benefit from them.

A second bet ha-deshen was on the eastern side of the altar, where sacrifices that had to be burned were taken. In addition to these, there was another bet ha-deshen on the Temple Mount itself, as well as one that was outside the city of Jerusalem.

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