Maaser Sheni, Chapter Three, Mishnah Eight

 

Introduction

Today’s mishnah is similar in structure to yesterday’s mishnah, although the content has nothing to do with the laws of maaser sheni. Today we deal with chambers of the Temple, part of which were built on holy ground, within the Temple courtyards, and part of which were outside of the Temple. There are three important ramifications for considering something to be within the Temple: 1) It is permitted to slaughter some sacrifices there; 2) It is permitted to eat those sacrifices there; 3) One who enters such an area while impure has transgressed and must bring a sacrifice to atone.

 

Mishnah Eight

1)      The chambers [of the Temple] which were built on holy ground but were open towards common ground: their interior was deemed common and their roofs were deemed holy.  

2)      Those which were built on common ground but were open towards holy ground: their interior was deemed holy and their roofs were deemed common.

3)      Those which were built both on holy and on common ground and were open both towards holy and common ground: the interior and the roofs that were on holy ground and inwards were deemed holy, but [the interior and roofs] on common ground and outwards were deemed common.

 

Explanation

Section one: If the chamber was built on holy ground, but the inside was open to common ground (not parts of the Temple) then the interior part is judged according to its opening and it is considered to be common (not sacred). However, the roofs, which lie above holy ground, are considered to be holy. This does create a strange situation in which the insides of the chambers are treated as common ground, whereas the roofs are holy.

Section two: This is the opposite situation as that in section one. Again, the interior goes after the opening, whereas the roof goes after the ground that the interior is on.

Section three: If the interior is on both holy and common ground and the opening is also open to both holy and common ground, then the parts that are on holy ground are deemed to be holy and the parts on common ground are deemed to be common. We should note that according to the Tosefta, there were no chambers in the Temple that filled this description—it is purely theoretical.

 

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