כ״ו באלול ה׳תשע״ט (September 26, 2019)

Me’ila 9a-b: The Place of the Ashes

As we learned on yesterday’s daf, the second perek of Tractate Me’ila focuses on how the laws of me’ila affect korbanot that are not disqualified and are sacrificed on the altar. While the previous Mishna taught the laws of a ḥatat ha-of (a bird that is brought as a sin offering), the Mishna 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 ḥatat ha-of. Once the bird is consecrated as a sacrifice, the laws of me’ila will apply, and these laws remain in force even after it is slaughtered by means of melika. In this case, however, even after the blood is placed on the altar, the laws of me’ila 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’ila cease to apply (see above, daf 4). For this reason, the laws of me’ila apply until the remains of the sacrifice are brought to the beit hadeshen – the place of the ashes (see 6:4).

The beit hadeshen 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 1:16); according to the Gemara in Massekhet Yoma they were miraculously absorbed by the beit hadeshen so that no one would accidentally derive forbidden benefit from them.

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