By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5TJT.com
We are living in difficult times. Firstly, the loss of countless lives. Secondly, the impending economic disaster; the loss of jobs, the blow to the businesses – some of which have changed forever. The massive depressions and shalom bayis issues that COVID-19 has wreaked.
Yes, we certainly do need the Geulah. And here is how to bring it about.
The Chofetz Chaim has written in numerous places that the studying and clarification of the halachos of avodas HaMikdash is the means through which Geulah will come. That being the case, and the fact that each of the 3 regalim contain the Mitzvah of being oleh regel – we can certainly gain a lot by studying these halachos.
There is a positive Mitzvah in the Torah to go up to the Beis HaMikdash, when we are pure, and to appear in the Azarah of the Mikdash. Eventually, the Mitzvah was to take place in the Azarah of the Beis HaMikdash. This Mitzvah is found in Shmos 23:17 and is read on the Yomim Tovim. We are, hopefully, all familiar with it: “Shalosh p’amim bashana yer’aeh kol zechurcha..”
Indeed, Klal Yisroel was commanded in three Mitzvos for each of the three regalim. The Mitzvah of re’i’yah (and bringing the korban olah along) appearing in the Azarah, the Mitzvah of Chagigah – celebrating (along with the Korban Chagigah – see Dvarim 16:15), and the Mitzvah of Simcha (along with Korban shlamim of simcha – see Dvarim 16:14).
WHAT ONE SAW BEFORE ENTERING THE AZARAH
Where was the Azarah? What did one see before entering the Azarah?
The entrance to the Beis Hamikdash was on its eastern side. One first had to enter the Ezras Nashim, which was the first courtyard of the Beis Hamikdash. The Ezras nashim was a huge open area, and had a separate chamber area in each of its corners.
THE FOUR CHAMBER AREAS OF THE EZRAS NASHIM
One chamber, in the north-east was used for storing wood and for checking that it didn’t have worms. Another, in the south-west, was used for storing the oil that was used both to light the Menorah and for mixing into the Korban Mincha offerings. It was also used to store the wine.
A third chamber was for the former Metzurayim who came to be metaher themselves after they were healed and could immerse in the Mikvah that was in that area. The fourth, in the south-east section, was for Nezirim who had completed their period of Nezirus. There they shaved off and burned their hair. They also cooked their offerings there.
The Ezras Nashim also contained a room where the lower Sanhedrin of twenty three judges sat.
THE EZRAS YISROEL
The next courtyard was past fifteen half-circle steps that led to the Gate of Nikanor which was the entranceway into the Ezras Yisroel, where only men who were tahor could enter. It was called Shaar Nikanor because he, Nikanor, paid for the huge doors made out of brass. It was made in Alexandria, Egypt. This area, the Ezras Yisroel, was where the Sanhedrin haGadol of 71 judges sat and ruled. At the end of the Ezras Yisroel was the duchan, a three-step stage where the Leviim played their musical instruments and sang the shir shel yom.
The next area was the Azarah. It contained the large outer mizbayach and the Heichal building. Between the mizbayach and the Azarah were the 12 steps upon which the Kohanim arose and blessed Klal Yisroel with the Birchas Kohanim each day. The Heichel was a building that had three sections, the Ulam, the Kodesh, and the Kodesh HaKodashim.
Prior to each of the three regalim, we are obligated to purify ourselves so that we can do Aliyah l’regel (see Rambam Tumas Ochlim 16:10) and enter the Azarah. This is derived from the pasuk, “uvnivlasam lo siga’u” (Vayikra 11:8).
If he could have purified himself prior to Yom Tov, but neglected to do so – it is a debate as to whether he has violated a positive commandment in the Torah (the Rambam holds it is a violation, the Ramban holds that the verse in Vayikra 11:8 is just an asmachta).
One performs this purification through the sprinkling of the waters of the Parah Adumah ashes upon him and upon the clothing that he wishes to wear when entering the Azarah. The water must touch his body directly and upon each article of clothing separately. Shoelaces are considered part of the shoe. Both the person and his household must be purified.
There is a debate between Tosfos (Yuma 30b “Naima”) and possibly the Rambam (See Lechem Mishna Hilchos Mechusrei Kapara 4:1) as to whether there was an obligation to immerse once again in the outer Mikvah (the one for Metzuarim) for someone who is appearing in the Azarah. However, everyone holds that he must do so if he is either shechting or waving the animal.
After the sprinkling, one must make sure not to enter into a room or building that was not inspected for Tumah – impurity. If, for example, there was a metal object in the room that had previously been under the same roof as a dead body – there is a debate among the Rishonim if that metal object renders a person impure through tumas ohel. Tosfos (Shabbos 17a), the Rash in Ohalos (1:3), and the Rosh (Ohalos 7:2) all hold that it does. The Rambam (Tumas HaMeis 5:3) and the Rashba in Chulin 71b hold that it does not.
The food that he consumes before Yom Tov must also be completely tahor. If he consumed impure food, then he will become Tameh as well. He may eat food that was raw and not huchshar lekabel tumah. The Mishnah in Bikkurim 3:2 tells us that the olei regel had the custom not to sleep indoors on their way to yerushalayim. Rather, they slept in the streets of the city.