Me’ilah 29 - The Pyre (Tamid)

After the Kohanim saw the one who removed the ashes descend from the Altar, with the pan of consumed coals in his hands, they would rush to sanctify their hands and feed with water from a special vessel. Then they took the shovels and forks and went on the top of the Altar. There they removed the limbs of the burned offering remaining from the day before, and put to them to the side of the Altar, or on the ramp. They would not remove them altogether, so as not to disqualify them.

They would begin piling the ashes on top of the mound, located in the center of the Altar. At times, this mound was like 300 kors in volume (50,000 cubic feet, which is an exaggeration, one of the few found in the Torah, Prophets, and Talmud). On the Festivals, they would not remove it, because it is an adornment for the Altar, but normally they were never lax to remove the ashes out of the city, when the mound became too large.

They began bringing up shaven and smooth logs and arranging the pyre toward the east side of the Altar. They would leave spaces between rows of logs and insert small chips there, to start the fire. They also brought fine pieces of fig-tree wood for the second pyre, opposite the Temple Hall door, for coals to burn the incense. Now they would return the leftover limbs to the fire, descend from the Altar, and proceed to the Chamber of Hewn Stone, where they drew lots for the remaining services.

Art: Niko Pirosmanashvili - Firewood Seller