כ״ה בתשרי ה׳תש״פ (October 24, 2019)

Middot 37a-b: The Chambers of the Temple Courtyard

The Mishnayot on today’s daf continue describing the layout of the Temple. The Mishna teaches –

There were six chambers in the azara [courtyard], three in the north and three in the south. In the north were the Chamber of the Salt, the Chamber of the Parva, and the Chamber of the Rinsers. In the salt chamber they used to keep the salt for the offerings. In the parva chamber they used to salt the hides of the sacrificial animals. On its roof was the Hall of Immersion used by the on the Day of Atonement. In the Chamber of the Rinsers they used to rinse the innards of the sacrificial animals, and from it a spiral staircase went up to the roof of the Chamber of the Parva. In the south were the Chamber of the Wood, the Chamber of the Wheel and the Chamber of Hewn Stone.

As the Mishna states, the parva chamber was where the skins of the animal offerings were salted for use. Although the simple explanation for the name parva is that the pelts themselves are called by that name, or, as the Tosafot Yom Tov explains, that the skin of the bulls (parim) was processed there, nevertheless other possibilities are mentioned.

The Gemara in Massekhet Yoma says that the word parva means an “angushi” (a type of sorcerer) and in his commentary on the Mishna, Rav Ovadiah MiBartenura says that the chamber was built by means of sorcery by a magician named Parva, and that it was named for him. This appears surprising, given the clear prohibition against magic that appears in the Torah (see, for example, Sefer Shemot 22:17). The Rambam explains that this magician made an opening in the wall of the Temple in order to observe the order of the Temple Service and that he was killed there. To recall this incident, the chamber was given his name.