Shekalim 18 - Thirteen tables

There were thirteen tables in the Temple, each serving a specific purpose. Eight of them, made of marble, were used for skinning and washing the sacrifices before burning them. Among others one was of marble, and on it they would place the Bread of Vision ready to be brought into the Temple; inside the Temple the bread lay on a golden table, and after a week of staying inside, but still fresh and warm, it was taken outside and put on another golden table, to be distributed among the priests. Why did they not put it back on the marble table? - Because of the rule that we bring things up in their level, but try to never take them down. Another question: why put the bread on a table of marble; wouldn’t silver be more dignified? The answer is that yes, it would be, but silver warms up and the bread may spoil. But didn’t we say that there was a miracle with this bread anyway, and it would not spoil or cool down? - Also true, but we try not to rely on miracles.

There were also thirteen collection chests in the Temple, called "Shofarot," because they were in the form of a shofar, wide at the bottom and narrow at the top, to prevent people from taking money out of them, while pretending to donate. The were for shekalim, new and old, and for various sacrifices. The "old shekalim" means someone’s obligation from last year - which cannot be used for this year but has to go into a separate chest and be used for the needs of Jerusalem instead.

Art: Still Life with Melon, Peach, Fruit-Filled Compote and Glass of Wine on a Marble Table Top By William Mason Brown