Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Talmud on the Temple's measuring cups

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Vesselmania. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic scholars grapple with the number of sacrificial measuring cups in the First Temple.
In Chapter Ten of Menachot, the rabbis ask how these precise measurements were actually made in the Temple. It stands to reason that there must have been measuring bowls or cups—but how many, and in what denominations? This is one of those prosaic questions that brings home the magnitude of what was lost with the destruction of the Temple. Precisely because measuring cups were such humble, ordinary tools, there is no record of them anywhere for the rabbis to rely on. Instead, here as with many other facets of Temple ritual, they must recreate the past using the only resources available to them: oral tradition, which is full of disagreements and contradictions, and the text of the Torah, which is often silent about matters of detail. Finding or inventing an answer out of these meager resources is what the Talmud is all about.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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