Shekalim, Chapter Six, Mishnah One

 

Introduction

Our mishnah describes certain physical features of the Temple.  Fans of the Raiders of the Lost Ark series will enjoy this mishnah, as well as tomorrow’s.

 

Mishnah One

1)      There were in the Temple thirteen chests, thirteen tables and thirteen prostrations.

2)      [Members] of the household of Rabban Gamaliel and of Rabbi Hananiah the chief of the priests used would prostrate fourteen [times.

a)      And where was the additional [prostration]?

b)      In front of the wood storage yard, for they had a tradition from their forefathers that the Ark was hidden there.

 

Explanation

Section one:  There were thirteen chests in the Temple to collect money for various items.  These will be explained below in mishnah five.  There were thirteen tables, which will be explained below in mishnah four.  Finally, there were thirteen places in which people would prostrate themselves and these will be explained in mishnah three.   Notice the chiastic order—chests, tables and prostrations and below we will see prostrations, tables and chests.

Section two:  The people of the household of Rabban Gamaliel and Rabbi Hananiah the chief of the priests would do an extra prostration.   They would do this extra prostration in front of the wood storage yard, the place where the wood that was used to fuel the altar was stored. They prostrated there because they had a tradition that that was where the Ark of the Covenant was buried.  There are two main traditions concerning the fate of the Ark in rabbinic literature. The first holds that King Josaiah buried it in the Temple and the second holds that it was carried off to Babylonia when the Temple was destroyed. The third holds that it is sitting in a storehouse in Washington D.C. (just kidding).

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