Different parts of the Temple courtyard area served different purposes. For example, kodashei kodashim – sacrifices of the highest level of holiness, including sin-offerings – were slaughtered on the side of the altar to the north (see Vayikra1:11). What is unclear, however, is how the concept “to the north” is defined. In the continuation of Masechet Zevahim(daf, or page, 20a) we find a disagreement about this issue. One opinion is that it simply means anywhere to the north of the altar. Rabbi Elazar ben Rabbi Shimon adds the entire area to the west of the altar, which is called bein ha-ulam la-mizbe’ah – between the hall leading to the Temple and the altar – in the northern half of the courtyard. Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nassi includes the northern half of the courtyard on the east side of the altar, as well, up to the entrance to the courtyard.
This diagram illustrates the main areas of the Temple. It should be noted that the standard diagrams of the Temple Mount are situated so that the top is West, which, as can be seen, is where the Temple itself stood (when we stand at the Western Wall, we face east towards the Temple, which stood just to the east of the wall). In the middle we find the altar, together with the ramp that led up to it on its left (to the South). Just above it (to the West) is the area of bein ha-ulam la-mizbe’ah; to the right is the northern side of the Temple courtyard.
We learned on yesterday’s daf that according to Rabbi Shimon, holakhah – carrying the blood – is not an essentialavodah. The argument that he made was that the sacrifice cannot be brought without slaughtering the animal, collecting its blood or sprinkling its blood. Nevertheless if the sacrifice is slaughtered next to the altar, near the ulam (the hall leading to the Temple), then carrying the blood may not be necessary since the sprinkling can be done from there.
Resh Lakish points out on today’s daf that Rabbi Shimon would admit that in cases of sin-offerings that must have their blood sprinkled on the inner altar, holakhah is an essential avodah. Since the animal cannot be slaughtered inside the Temple itself, the act of carrying the blood inside cannot be done in any other way.