In this week's Parsha, Pikudei, we read about the Mizbeach ha'Olah and Mizbeach for the Ketores. I have some thoughts and questions...

Were there only ever two?

Why is the Mizbeach ha'Olah called that when other, non-Olah offerings, like Shelamim, were brought as well?

Why was one put indoors, and one outdoors?

P.S. Bonus question: What happened when it rained? How would the Tamid and other outdoor offerings be brought?

  • 1
    These are great questions, michael, but site rules limit you to one question per question. Please break this up into smaller bits Mar 1, 2022 at 15:49
  • Is q2 about other mizbeichos in the beis hamiqdash? Or, were they later replaced over the centuries? The answer to that latter question is "yes", only the aron never got to the point of needing replacement. (It also was buried after only about 1/3 of the history of the other keilim, so far.) Mar 3, 2022 at 16:45
  • I have a long answer to q3. More than I would invest in a question that doesn't fit the rules and may disappear. There are three crowned keilim in the beis hamiqdash and three without crowns. And they are apparently pairable: the menorah and the aron (which has a crown) both symbolize thought and Torah, the two mizbichos (the gold one was crowned), and the shulchan (crowned) had bread, the qiyor was for washing -- both about relating to the physical. In each pair, the crowned utensil is placed in a location with one step of holiness above the other. Mar 3, 2022 at 16:52
  • Here's the source sheet for the first couple of shiurim. Check the diagram: sefaria.org/sheets/385854.2 Mar 3, 2022 at 16:57

1 Answer 1

  1. There were supposed to be two. The book of Kings records that at least one of the wicked kings added another altar for idolatrous sacrifices.

  2. Probably because the Olah is the most important type of Korban. It is the only Korban we are commanded to bring every day, morning and evening. In addition, it is the first Korban to have its rules detailed in Leviticus.

  3. There are probably deeper answers, but the simplest reason is that the Mizbeach Haolah would not fit in the Tabernacle due to its size. In addition, there also needed to be space to slaughter, skin, and divide up the animals.

Bonus: It was a miracle!

פָּתַח בְּמִקְדָּשׁ, וְסִיֵּים בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם! אִיכָּא תַּרְתֵּי אַחְרָנְיָיתָא בְּמִקְדָּשׁ. דְּתַנְיָא: מֵעוֹלָם לֹא כִּבּוּ גְּשָׁמִים אֵשׁ שֶׁל עֲצֵי הַמַּעֲרָכָה. וַעֲשַׁן הַמַּעֲרָכָה, אֲפִילּוּ כׇּל הָרוּחוֹת שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם בָּאוֹת וּמְנַשְּׁבוֹת בּוֹ — אֵין מְזִיזוֹת אוֹתוֹ מִמְּקוֹמוֹ.
The Gemara notes: This list opened with miracles that occurred in the Temple, and closed with miracles that occurred in Jerusalem. Apparently there were not actually ten miracles performed in the Temple. The Gemara answers: There are two other miracles in the Temple, as it was taught in a baraita: Rain never extinguished the fire of the arrangement of wood on the altar, despite the fact that the altar stood in the courtyard, exposed to the elements. And with regard to the smoke of the arrangement, even if all the winds in the world come and blow it, they do not move it from its place and it rises directly heavenward. (Yoma 21a)

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