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In Tamid 2:3, the Mishna tells us that the kohanim would bring גִזְרִין - logs - every morning to serve as the fuel for the fire on the Altar. It goes on to report that most types of wood are eligible, but that

בְּאֵלּוּ רְגִילִין, בְּמֻרְבִּיּוֹת שֶׁל תְּאֵנָה וְשֶׁל אֱגוֹז וְשֶׁל עֵץ שָׁמֶן

It was [the wood] of these [trees] they commonly used, branches of a fig tree, walnut [tree] or an oil [tree].

What does the word מֻרְבִּיּוֹת, "branches" at least according to R' Ovadia Mibartenura, tell us here? Was the common practice to use branches specifically, as opposed to trunks of these trees? If so, why? Was it that the branches tended to more closely match the necessary dimensions of the logs that were required? Was it because branches were more of a renewable resource, not requiring the destruction of a whole tree to harvest?

  • Mishna Succa 4.5 יורדין לשם ומלקטין משם מורביות של ערבה – kouty Mar 31 at 6:22
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The unknown commentary1 to this Mishnah in the Talmud says that branches burn easily and do not produce [too much] smoke. He also states several other advantages for using younger branches than older wood. Raavad even calls these the ‘best’ of the wood. The Talmud itself (Rabbi Eliezer, 29b) lists additional possible woods which were used, such as: lote, sycamore, oak, palm, carob.

Other problems mentioned in the commentaries (e.g. Rosh) is not to have a product which leaves over a lot of ash, because it is troublesome to those who must remove it.

Also, make sure there are no worms in your wood!


  1. Or not, see Shita Mikubetzes from Tosfos, Yoma 16b, ‘haShulchanos’.
  • "branches burn easily...younger branches" - Is that comment on the g'mara addressing a quality of the branches other than age at the beginning, or is that the only variable? I can't tell. But it sounds from your answer like it is. "חריות וענפים לפי ששורפים יותר ואין מעלין עשן אבל אילנות זקנים אינן נוחין לישרף כמו אילנות בחורים א"נ לית בהו קשרים בבחורים כמו בזקנים" – WAF Mar 31 at 11:11

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