The Talmud (Yoma 39a) says that during the 40 years shimon hatzadik was high priest only two logs were added to the altar in the temple every day.

Is this to be taken literally? Also, what was the amount in the first temple times? There were after all thousands of korbanot burned every day. (King Solomon alone brought 1000 burnt offering each day)

  • 2
    If anything isn't meant literally it's burning 1000 offerings each day...
    – Double AA
    Apr 4, 2014 at 14:07
  • 1
    Rashi say there 'ודולק מאיליו בלא תוספת עצים' seems like a miracle
    – user3113
    Apr 4, 2014 at 15:12
  • @DoubleAA sometimes was in the hundreds of thousands+ per day since in the festivals each person had to bring an olah reiyah
    – ray
    Apr 5, 2014 at 20:05
  • @ray Only the males who showed up, and they were spread over 6 days. And they could also bring a pigeon for the Olah (accd to Rambam).
    – Double AA
    Apr 6, 2014 at 5:00
  • @DoubleAA even so it was not less than thousands per day
    – ray
    Apr 6, 2014 at 5:26

2 Answers 2


Rashash and Sfas Emes answer the qustion of the Bach and explain that when Rashi says that (as he explained earlier) there was an commandment to put two blocks of wood on the altar in the morning and the afternoon, he meant that in the time of Shimon Hatzadick, there was no need to put any other wood on the altar. This is one of the miracles that continued in his day from the first temple. The gemorah (elsewhere) explains that the fire in the time of the first temple 'crouched like a lion', meaning that the miraculous fire of Hashem that had descended upon the altar continued and burnt all the korbanos. The only need for the physical wood blocks was because of the commandment.

Note that this is in the middle of the other miracles listed so that it is meant to be taken literally.

  • I don't follow your last sentence. Why must any of them be taken literally?
    – Double AA
    Apr 6, 2014 at 16:25
  • @DoubleAA unless they are explained specifically as not literal, the way the gemarah reads is literal. In this case, it connects with the statement that in the first temple and under Shimon Hatzadik, the miracles occurred and later on they did not occur. Apr 6, 2014 at 16:45
  • That is false. [15]
    – Double AA
    Apr 6, 2014 at 17:04
  • @DoubleAA Yoma 39a During the 40 years that Shimon Haztaddik served the goral (of the seh) would always come up in his right hand. Afterwards, it would sometimes come up in the right and sometimes in the left. and the strip of red wool would always turn white (miraculously) and afterwards sometimes it would whiten and sometimes it would not, the western (menorah) lamp would always continue burning (all night) and afterwards it would sometimes stay lit and sometimes go out and the fire on the ma'aracha would remain strong so the kohanim did not have to bring (extra) wood. literal Apr 6, 2014 at 17:42
  • To repeat myself, How do you know?
    – Double AA
    Apr 6, 2014 at 17:45

Rashi clearly states that this refers to the bonfire after it was set up in the morning - משסדרוהו שחרית.

The Mishna at the end of the 4th Perek discusses how many new bonfires were required to be set up each day and the Gemara discusses how they were built.

The passage you mention refers to the fact that these bonfires burnt all day - and all that was added were the 2 logs which were brought with the afternoon sacrifice.

  • thnx. i had a feeling something wasn't quite right. but are you saying the pile was consumed completely each morning and they had to rearrange it each day from scratch? didnt the fire never go out?
    – ray
    Apr 6, 2014 at 12:13
  • @ray - there was a Mitzva to remove all the burnt coals and create a fresh bonfire - and ignite it each day. They may have rotated the times of "cleaning" the 3 or 4 bonfires such that there was always a fire burning. See daf 45b where they discuss the fire burning eternally. Apr 6, 2014 at 12:23
  • i take it no other wood was added the whole day besides these two logs, regardless how many thousands of korbanot were offered?
    – ray
    Apr 6, 2014 at 12:27
  • 1
    @ray - Correct. That's what the Gemara says was the case, when they merited this particular miracle. Keep in mind that for most Korbanot, only certain fats were sacrificed, the rest was eaten. Only the Korban Olah was entirely burnt (except for the hide/skin.) Apr 6, 2014 at 12:31

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