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INTRODUCTION TO THE BEIS HA'MIKDASH
 THE VARIOUS DIAGRAMS OF THE BEIS HA'MIKDASH
Throughout the ages, many great scholars have attempted to prepare diagrams, full-scale sketches, and even scale models of the Beis ha'Mikdash. In this mailing we will discuss the most common ones and the major differences between them, b'Ezras Hashem.
 THE DIAGRAMS
Numerous printed diagrams of the Beis ha'Mikdash have survived the ages. In general, a diagram normally consisted of a sketch of the layout of the Azarah of the Beis ha'Mikdash (usually with no attempt to draw it to scale), with numbers or names printed in it describing each part. Those which were numbered were accompanied by a key, describing what each number stood for. The following is a small list of some of the more famous Beis ha'Mikdash diagrams.
1) RAMBAM - The Rambam himself prepared a detailed diagram of the Har ha'Bayis and the Beis ha'Mikdash which is printed at the end of the Perush ha'Mishnayos of Midos, which is printed in the Shas. A more accurate rendering of the original can be found in Rav Y. Kapach's print of the Perush ha'Mishnah, and in Rav Shabsi Frenkel's print of the Mishneh Torah, Hil. Beis ha'Bechirah ch. 2.
2) VS - A diagram of the Har ha'Bayis and Beis ha'Mikdash is printed in the Vilna Shas, Maseches Midos Daf 40b. This diagram is attributed there to Rav Yonasan of Roznai from Lithuania.
3) TYT - The TOSFOS YOM TOV prepared a diagram, which is printed in the Mishnayos (Vilna set, p. 243) after Maseches Kinim.
4) CHB1 - The diagram of the CHANUKAS HA'BAYIS by Rav Malkiel Ashkenazi (see Introduction to Midos, Acharonim (d)).
5) CHB2 - The diagram of the other CHANUKAS HA'BAYIS (see Introduction to Midos, Acharonim (e)) by Rav Moshe Chefetz.
6) TY - The diagram of the Tiferes Yisrael, Harav Yisrael Lifshitz of Danzig (19th cent.), which is printed both in his Mishnayos (in Midos Chapter 2 or following Midos) and in Rav P. Kahati's Mishnayos (page 290, at the beginning of Midos). Note that in some printings of the Mishnayos, the order of the diagrams and their keys are confusing: the Tiferes Yisrael's diagram is printed right after the key to the Tosfos Yom Tov's diagram, and the key to the Tiferes Yisrael's diagram is printed right after the Tosfos Yom Tov's diagram.
The Tiferes Yisrael's diagram outdid all others that preceded it in his attention to detail and in truth to scale. (In truth, the original diagram of the Tiferes Yisrael was not true to scale. Rav Z. Koren discovered that someone by the name of Romanov, whose descendants live in Jerusalem, was behind the Vilna printing of the Tiferes Yisrael's diagram which is perhaps the first one in print that was drawn true to scale.) At the end of Maseches Midos, the Tiferes Yisrael discusses each of the 77 numbered references in his drawing in great detail, comparing his drawing to those of the Vilna Shas and the Tosfos Yom Tov. This is the Beis ha'Mikdash diagram that appears to have been most often reproduced. A version of it appears in the Encyclopedia Talmudis, under the entry "Beis ha'Mikdash."
In our Background pages to Maseches Tamid, the numbers that appear next to certain entries represent the number assigned to that item in the diagram of the Beis ha'Mikdash that is printed in the Vilna Shas (VS), and in the diagram of the Tiferes Yisrael (TY). We have b'Ezras Hashem placed a reproduction of the TY diagram on our Website, which will be accessible from the Midos section of our Homepage (www.dafyomi.co.il/dafyomi2/) for downloading and printing. We will post at the same URL a translation of the Tiferes Yisrael's descriptions of all the numbered parts in his diagram, and an alphabetical list of all the sections of the Beis ha'Mikdash mentioned in Maseches Midos (in transliterated Hebrew) along with their number as they appear in the TY diagram.
 THE MODELS
More recently, numerous attempts have been made to construct a scale model of the Beis ha'Mikdash compound, true to scale and thoroughly researched from Halachic, historical (i.e. Josephus etc.) and architectural perspectives. Here is a very incomplete list of some of the more famous models that have been constructed in recent years:
1) One of the first models of the Beis ha'Mikdash appears to have been constructed by Mr. Yakov Yehudah, a renowned architect and artist, who thoroughly researched the subject from both Talmudic and archeological standpoints. His model was acclaimed by the great scholars of turn-of-the-century Jerusalem, including Rav Iser Zalman Meltzer and Rav Herzog. He displayed his newly constructed model in the 1939 New York World's Fair.
His model made a tremendous impression on all who beheld it at the time, and it was written up in Life Magazine. We hope to include a picture of his model on our Website. Mr. Yehudah's quest for knowledge of the Beis ha'Mikdash brought him from Switzerland to Palestine, where he directed his architectural talents towards rebuilding the Holy Land. Unfortunately, the model is no longer in existence.
2) Conrad Schick, and archeologist, made what was probably the first model around the year 1900. This model can still be found near the Old City of Jerusalem (in Shmidt's girl's school, near Sha'ar Shechem).
3) Rav Yitzchak Yakov Cohen, of Jerusalem (d. 1956), whose model is on permanent display in the Old City of Jerusalem.
4) Perhaps the most famous model of the Beis ha'Mikdash is M. Aviyonah's model, which appears in the permanent display of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period, at the Holyland Hotel (Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem).
5) Rav Zalman Koren constructed a beautiful model of the Beis ha'Mikdash, paying close attention to structural, Halachic and topographical detail, which is presently on display for those who go on the "Kotel tunnels" tour. [Exclusive photographs of this model depicting Rav Koren's unique ideas are available at www.mja.net/neveh/mikdash/koren/.]
6) A model was constructed by a Lubavitcher Chasid, Rav Dov Levanoni, who brought his model to the late Rebbe for his approval. He printed a beautiful full-color reproduction and description of his model in a book entitled "The Temple." Rav Levanoni will be happy to present a slide show on the Beis ha'Mikdash to those interested. He can be contacted in Israel at (02) 5811227.
7) A partially finished Leggo model is on display at the Temple Institute.
8) Just a few weeks ago, a craftsman in Jerusalem by the name of Catriel Sugerman (owner of the artist's workshop "Catriel" at 18 Shlomzion ha'Malkah St., Jerusalem) completed a full wooden model of the Azarah and the Beis ha'Mikdash which surpasses all previous attempts in detail and beauty. Our Kollel was privileged to have been allowed to view this work of art before Catriel shipped it off to Monsey, where it will find its new home. Before parting with it, Catriel prepared a beautiful slide show of his model. His lively presentation of the slide show coupled with his insightful and fully researched presentation of the historical and textual sources, are guaranteed to liven up any parlor meeting or Simchah. Those interested in his services may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
9) Rav Neuwirth, presently of Beitar, has constructed a model in America and is in the process of constructing another one in Beitar.
 THE DIAGRAMS OF VS, TYT AND TY
We will discuss here the various diagrams of the Beis ha'Mikdash. The main diagrams include the one in the Vilna Shas, the one in the Mishnayos that was drawn by the Tosfos Yom Tov, and the one in the Mishayos that was drawn by the Tiferes Yisrael (in some printings of the Mishnayos, the order of the diagrams and their keys are confusing: the Tiferes Yisrael's diagram is printed right after the key to the Tosfos Yom Tov's diagram, and the key to the Tiferes Yisrael's diagram is printed right after the Tosfos Yom Tov's diagram).
We will make a few points about three of the diagrams, the one in the Vilna Shas (VS), the Tosfos Yom Tov's diagram (TYT) and the Tiferes Yisrael's diagram (TY), before discussing the main points over which the different diagrams of the Beis ha'Mikdash appear to differ.
1) DIAGRAM IN THE VILNA SHAS - This diagram has 64 numbered parts. On the diagram itself a few of the numbers are missing. Most notably, in the Heichal the number 41 is missing, and in the Lishkas ha'Gazis, on the southern side opposite the Heichal, the number 62 is missing.
There are also a number of obvious printing errors in this diagram:
(b) In the diagram we see a dotted line cutting across the center, next to which is written, "Ezras Kohanim." A little bit further to the east is a wall with a staircase going through it. The wall is clearly a mistake, because the wall is dividing between the Ezras Yisrael and Ezrash Kohanim, and it says clearly in the Mishnayos that the only dividers between the Ezras Yisrael and Ezras Kohanim were the "Roshei Paspasim" (little poles that protruded as a sign for the division between the two areas) and a step that was one Amah tall. (On top of that step were three half-Amah steps which were the "Duchan" upon which the Kohanim stood for Birkas Kohanim, as is correctly drawn in this diagram.)
The dotted line in the diagram obviously represents the line of short poles (the Roshei Paspasim) which separated between the Ezras Yisrael and Ezras Kohanim, and therefore the dotted line should be where the wall is, along with a one Amah tall stair. There should be no wall separating the Ezras Kohanim from the Ezras Yisrael, and there should be nothing at all separating between the Ezras Kohanim and the Mizbe'ach.
(c) The rings that were used to hold the necks of the animals down to the ground for Shechitah of the Korbanos (#26 in this diagram) are drawn off to the west of the Mizbe'ach in this diagram. This is clearly a mistake. They are supposed to be directly behind the Mizbe'ach, i.e. to the north of the Mizbe'ach. The following should lie one after the other in one straight line: The ramp of the Mizbe'ach, the Mizbe'ach, the rings, the tables, and the poles for flaying or skinning the Korbanos.
(d) The Kiyor (#31 in this diagram) has next to it what looks like a well, which does not have any number next to it. Based on Tosfos Yom Tov's diagram it can be learned that this is supposed to be the well into which the Kiyor was lowered overnight so that its waters would not become Pasul b'Linah.
(2) TOSFOS YOM TOV'S DIAGRAM - There are 68 sections numbered one through 68, and another 5 which were added either by the Tosfos Yom Tov himself or by someone else, lettered Tav, Shin, Reish, Kuf, and Tzadik. These latter are described below the diagram and are not on the same page as the other descriptions of the numbered parts of the diagram.
(a) There are some mistakes in this diagram as well. Notably, number 34 is missing from the Beis ha'Moked (which is drawn towards the center of the diagram to the north (i.e. to the right) of the Azarah. Number 34 should be written along with all the other numbers in the Beis ha'Moked that describe the four sub-chambers of the Beis ha'Moked. (Number 34 is the general number for the gate of the Beis ha'Moked itself, which was one of the northern gates of the Azarah.
(3) TIFERES YISRAEL'S DIAGRAM - Tremendous attention to detail was given in the Tiferes Yisrael's scale diagram of the Beis ha'Mikdash. The diagram itself consists of 77 numbered sections of the Har ha'Bayis and the Azarah, each of which the Tiferes Yisrael discusses at length in a section called "Simanei Tzuros Beis ha'Mikdash." Besides these 77 numbers, the Tiferes Yisrael drew a diagram of the Mizbe'ach in which he has 21 numbered parts.
For some reason, in the diagram of the Azarah, he not only included the numbers according to the numbering system of the Har ha'Bayis and the Azarah, but he also included in the Mizbe'ach area numbers based on the numbering system of the Mizbe'ach. This can be very confusing, since the numbers 1-21 are duplicated in the diagram, referring first to a part of the Azarah in general and then to part of the Mizbe'ach area. For this reason, at times the same item can be given two numbers. For example, the two tables alongside the Mizbe'ach are numbered both #51 (Azarah numbering system) #21 (Mizbe'ach numbering system).
(a) As an example of the tremendous attention that the Tiferes Yisrael gave to detail, we might note that in number 31 (which is to the center of the Azarah to the south), Lishkas Beis ha'Parveh, a funny horizontal line appears in the picture looking like a ladder lying sideways. That is a stairway, for in that particular Lishkah there is a stairway which led to a Mikvah on top of the Lishkah. A similar stairway can be found next to number 65, which is to the north side of the Heichal. However, that stairway cuts only partially across the aisle (which is numbered 65) that goes along the entire northern wall of the Heichal. #65 is the Mesibah, or passageway, which allowed access to the upper stories of the Beis ha'Mikdash, and -- as the Tiferes Yisrael describes -- it included a stairway that went all the way from the bottom of the Beis ha'Mikdash to the top and reached all the way across from the east to the west. We would expect to see that stairway cutting across the entire !
It was pointed out to me in the name of Rav Koren, who did extensive research into the different diagrams of the Beis ha'Mikdash, that the Tiferes Yisrael's diagram is obviously a cut-away of the middle story of the Beis ha'Mikdash. There were walls alongside the northern and southern walls of the Heichal of different sizes at different stories, and based on the sizes in the diagram it is clear that the Tiferes Yisrael is giving a cut-out of the middle story. The portion of the stairway that appears in the diagram is the exact portion of the stairway that one would expect to find on that story if he would be standing on that story of the Beis ha'Mikdash. That is why, in the diagram, it does not extend across the entire northern wall of the Heichal!
(b) Take another look at the Mesibah. You will see that there are a number of what seem to be hollow passageways that are leading to it from the line of compartments ("Ta'im") which is numbered 63. Notice that some of these passageways have double horizontal lines cutting across them. Why do some of them have those lines and some of them not? The ones that do not have those lines are actual passageways, but the ones that have those double lines are windows. The double horizontal lines denote not passageways but windows made to let light into the Ta'im. If you now look again at the diagram you will see that a number of what appear to be entranceways to the Beis ha'Mikdash are actual passageways, but a number of them are just windows meant to let in light.
The north and south walls of the Beis ha'Mikdash would presumably be solid walls. However, the Tiferes Yisrael clearly does not have a solid wall there. Rather, he just has a few solid pieces and in between them he has big, blank, open spots. It appears that he made the wall merely as a few pillars and not a full wall for otherwise, there would be absolutely no source of that to the Ta'im, or the compartments that were built deep inside the wall of the Heichal. Now that the outer wall was hollow and the Mesibah had windows leading from it into the compartments, light was able to enter the compartments.
(c) When one studies carefully the words of the Tiferes Yisrael on Maseches Midos, one will notice that the drawing does not seem to be entirely consistent with his description of the Beis ha'Mikdash in his commentary to Maseches Midos. (For instance, in the commentary of the Tiferes Yisrael to Midos 3:6 he explains that the bottom step leading up to the Ulam, or the steps which are numbered 53 in his diagram, was only one Amah from the Mizbe'ach. In his diagram, though, it is clearly about 3 Amos from the Mizbe'ach.)
Rav Yehudah Landy pointed out to me, quoting Rav Zalman Koren, that in the Tiferes Yisrael's original print, the diagram is significantly different from what appears in our prints. It is much more consistent with his commentary, and it is not drawn to scale. (See above, "The Diagrams," 6.)
(d) There are a number of mistakes in our version of the Tiferes Yisrael's diagram. First, note that on the south wall, the number 34 appears in one of the holes in the wall, which is clearly a gate (just like numbers 35 and 36). Next to it appears a smaller number 33. The TIferes Yisrael writes in his key that 33 is the gateway (Sha'ar ha'Mayim) and 34 is the attic which was built on top of the gateway (Aliyas Beis Avtinos). It is clear that it is supposed to be the opposite -- 34 is supposed to be the gateway, and 33 is the attic which is built on top of the gateway, and it is actually a little bit off to the eastern side of the gateway and not directly on top of it, just as the Rambam writes in Hilchos Beis ha'Bechirah and as the Rambam and Chanukas ha'Bayis (Ashkenazi) draw it in their pictures.
(e) Secondly, we find #49 written in the corner of the Mizbe'ach between the ramp and the Mizbe'ach itself, towards the west of the ramp. From the key, it refers to the exact same item as the #18 (in the Mizbe'ach numbering system) which is written further to the west. It is the hole through which the Kohanim would climb in order to clean out the contents of the Shisin, which was indeed where the number 18 appears -- and *not* where the number 49 appears -- near the SW corner of the Mizbe'ach.
What number *does* belong by the dot that is next to the ramp which has a 49 by it? Both the number 50 of the Azarah numbering system and the number 19 of the Mizbe'ach numbering system, which appear toward the bottom of the ramp in the picture, next to the picture of a spoon. These two numbers should instead be next to that dot at the top of the ramp, which is where the Mishnah tells us that the spoon was kept.
(f) Another mistake in the drawing of the Mizbe'ach is the letter Chof (#20) of the Mizbe'ach numbering system that appears next to #18 in the SW corner of the Mizbe'ach. Number 20 is supposed to represent the Beis ha'Deshen and it is printed entirely in the wrong place. It belongs on the east side of the ramp of the Mizbe'ach, about a third of the way from the start of the ramp and right next to the ramp (i.e. in the same place as the letter Reish appears in the Tosfos Yom Tov's diagram).
 MAJOR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE DIAGRAMS
1) Perhaps the most obvious difference between the different diagrams is the placement of the Lishkas ha'Gazis and its accompanying Lishkos. The Mishnah in Midos tells us:
"There were six Lishkos in the Azarah, three on the north side of the Azarah and three on the south side. Those on the north were: (1) Lishkas ha'Melach (salt); (2) Lishkas ha'Parvah and (3) Lishkas ha'Medichim. LISHKAS HA'MELACH was where salt was kept for the salting of Korbanot. LISHKAS HA'PARVAH was where the hides of the Korbanot were salted.... LISHKAS HA'MEDICHIM was where the intestines of the Korbanos would be rinsed. On the southern side were: (4) Lishkas ha'Etz; (5) Lishkas ha'Golah and (6) Lishkas ha'Gazis. LISHKAS HA'ETZ was... the Lishkah of the Kohen Gadol. In the LISHKAS HA'GOLAH there was a fixed well with a crank and bucket over it. This was the source for all the water used in the Azarah. The LISHKAS HA'GAZIS was where the Sanhedri Gedolah convened and judged all issues pertaining to the Kohanim."In keeping with this Mishnah, VS and CHB2 put Lishkas ha'Melach, Ha'Parvah and ha'Medichim in the northern side of the Azarah, with the other three on the south. It is indeed logical to place these in the north (as opposed to the south) of the Azarah, for all three involve the preparation of the slaughtered Korbanos, and the Korbanos were slaughtered in the north of the Azarah, as Tosfos Yom Tov points out.
However, the Tosfos Yom Tov rejects this Girsa, since the Gemara (Yoma 19a), when quoting this Mishnah, records that the Lishkas ha'Melach, Ha'Parvah and ha'Medichim were in the *south* of the Azarah, and the other three (including the Lishkas ha'Gazis) were in the north. In the his own diagram, the TYT therefore corrects this and places the former three in the south and the latter three (with the Lishkas ha'Gazis) in the north. This is the way the Lishkos appear in the RAMBAM's diagram and all other diagrams (see notes 2&4 of Harav Yakov Emdin and notes 1&4 of Harav Wolfe Boskowitz on the VS diagram).
2) Granted that the Lishkas ha'Gazis is in the north, where exactly was it located along the northern wall of the Azarah?
Since the three southern of the six Lishkos of the Azarah (see above, 1) all served similar purposes, which were related to the preparation of Korbanos, it is obvious that they were near each other in the area of the ramp of the Mizbe'ach. If would therefore seem logical to place the three northern ones together in the same general area. This is indeed the way they appear in nearly all the diagrams: three Lishkos opposite three others, in the area where the Ezras Yisrael meets the Ezras Kohanim.
However, the VS and CHB diagrams, which put the Lishkas ha'Gazis in the south (see above, 1) moved the Lishkas ha'Gazis over to about the mid-point of the Azarah, south of the Heichal, allowing much more room for the seating of the Sanhedrin. (This would have been impossible had it been to the north, due to the large Beis ha'Moked that took up that part of the north of the Azarah.)
Rav Koren, who accepted the majority opinion that the Lishkas ha'Gazis was in the north, found another way to allow for the seating of 70 Elders. In his model, the Lishkas ha'Gazis is all the way at the western end of the Azarah. If this was indeed the location of the Lishkas ha'Gazis, we could solve another riddle. The Rambam writes (Perush ha'Mishnah, end of Midos) that the Lishkas ha'Gazis was half Kodesh and half non-Kodesh. The non-Kodesh half of the Lishkas ha'Gazis, he tells us, was to the west. As Rav Y. Landy pointed out to me, proof can be brought to this assertion from the Gemara in Yoma 24b, which tells us that the Elders of the Sanhedrin sat in the *western* part of the Lishkas ha'Gazis. Since one may not sit in the Azarah, the western part must have been non-Kodesh. If the Lishkas ha'Gazis was in the east or middle of the Azarah, how could its *western* half have been built out of the Azarah? If, however, it was located to the west of the Azarah, its western half could very easily have been built outside the walls of the Azarah, in non-Kodesh area.
3a) In VS there are two extra tables between the skinning poles (Amudim Nanasim), aside from the 8 tables that stood between the poles and the Mizbe'ach. All other diagrams omit these tables, since the Mishnah in Shekalim 6:4 counts every table that was used in the Mikdash and does not mention these extra tables.
The Mishnah (Tamid and Midos 3:5), however, does make mention of tables which were "between the skinning poles," and the commentary of the ROSH to that Mishnah (in Rav Ilan's Shita Mekubetzes, Tamid 30b) provides clear support for adding two tables between the poles. According to the other opinions, we must either accept the suggestion of (a) the Ra'avad (ad loc.) that the tables were *near*, and not *between* the skinning poles, or else (b) the Tiferes Yisrael's suggestion that the tables were portable.
A third, interesting, opinion is that of the Vilna Gaon (Mishnayos Midos), who puts tables between *all* of the poles, and does not have separate sections for the tables and for the poles (see Bi'urei ha'Gra, printed in the Mishnayos, Midos 5:2).
b) The Tiferes Yisrael also points out in the notes on his diagram (#44) that there does not appear to have been a wall around the skinning poles, unlike the drawings of VS and TYT.
4) The Beis ha'Moked - In VS, CHB1 and CHB2, this large chamber surrounding the northern gate of the Azarah is drawn opposite the Heichal. However, Rav Yakov Emden in his comments on the drawing (#3 -- there are a number of serious typos in this Hagahah) strongly dissents to this representation, insisting that the Beis ha'Moked must have been further east, opposite the Mizbe'ach or the stairs of the Ulam, since only that area is called the "Azarah." In the diagrams of TYT and Tiferes Yisrael, the Beis ha'Moked indeed appears where Rav Yakov Emden suggests. However, the Rambam draws the Beis ha'Moked as it appears in VS.
5) The stairs to the Nikanor gate - The Mishnah states that these stairs formed a semicircle, upon which innumerable Levite musicians would stand during the Simchas Beis ha'Sheo'evah (Midos 2:5; Sukah 51b). In all of the diagrams, the semicircle is convex, protruding into the Ezras Nashim.
Katriel pointed out to us that it would seem more logical to make them concave, with a large open area in the center of the semicircle (as he made them in his model). Among the many advantages of this scenario are: (1) The musicians could see each other, and a central conductor, (2) the musicians at the ends of the stairs would not be facing the walls, and (3) the wording used to describe them ("Chatzi Goren Agulah") would be used in the same context as it is used with reference to the Sanhedrin (Sanhedrin 4:3), who obviously sat in a semicircle *facing* each other. The ME'IRI indeed describes these stairs in just such a fashion.
6) There is a disagreement among the Tana'im as to whether the Azarah had 5, 7, 8, or 13 gates (Tamid 27a, Shekalim 17a). While most diagrams were drawn according the opinion that there are 7 gates (three on the north and the south, one to the east), TY draws 13 gates (4 on the north and the south, 2 mysterious ones to the west and 1 to the east which had 2 Pishpeshim in it).
7) There are a number of opinions among the Tana'im as to whether the Mizbeach was placed to the south, north, or middle of the Azarah (see Rashi Sotah 14b DH Kulei). In VS and TYT, the Mizbe'ach is entirely to the south of the entrance to the Heichal, while in the other diagrams it fills an area opposite nearly the entire entrance to the Heichal.
8) Where was the Kiyor? Between the Mizbe'ach and the Ulam. However, in VS it appears directly in front of the stairs to the Ulam. As Tiferes Yisrael points out based on Midos 3:6, it appears to have been further to the south and not directly in front of the entranceway to the Ulam. This is the way it appears in TYT, TY, and all the other diagrams.
9) In their diagrams, CHB1 and CHB2 added a small Beis ha'Knesses on the mountain near the Azarah, in which the Kohanim would pray (based on Rashi Yoma 68b). Since there was more room to the south of the Azarah than to the other directions, they surmised that it must have been built on that side of the Azarah. It appears in their diagrams just out of the Azarah, in front of the ramp leading towards the Mizbe'ach.
10) An interesting point from an archeological perspective is whether the Rock under the Dome marks the spot of the Kodesh ha'Kodoshim, or the spot of the Mizbe'ach.
Chazal tell us of a great rock, the Even Shesiah, that was located in the Kodesh ha'Kodoshim and reached just above the surface during the Second Temple period (Yoma 54b). The most logical conclusion would therefore be that the Rock is the Even Shesiah and marks the location of the Kodesh ha'Kodoshim.
However, an ancient Mesorah claims that no structure will ever be built upon the place where the Aron once stood. The Radvaz, who lived in Jerusalem, mentions such a tradition even though the Dome apparently already existed. In the Tiferes Yisrael's scale diagram of Har ha'Bayit, a careful measurement reveals that it is the *Mizbe'ach* that is drawn on top of the Rock, and not the Aron! Rav Goren defended such an opinion, and Rav Resnick (of Monsey N.Y., in his fascinating book on the Temple mount) makes a strong case for it as well.
Unfortunately, such a theory is very hard to defend, for if the Rock is not the Even Shesiah but rather the floor of the Mizbe'ach (or even the middle level of the Mizbe'ach), we must have "lost" another tremendous rock which marked the location of the Kodesh ha'Kodoshim. (This latter rock must have reached some six Amos higher than the Rock, according to the topography of the Azarah as described in the Mishnah. As for the Tiferes Yisrael's diagram, remember that the scale diagram was not drawn by him but by a printer in Vilna, see above, Diagrams #6.)
 IN CONCLUSION Although this is a very far from adequate discussion of the Beis ha'Mikdash, it is our hope that these words will make Mishnayos Midos more approachable, sparking new interest in the Tzuras ha'Mikdash. As Rabbeinu Bachye writes (end of Vayakhel), "Know that the discussion of the Mishkan and its vessels..., even when there is no Beis ha'Mikdash, is a great Mitzvah for which reward is given "unto the heaven...." Just as one who studies the Korbanos is considered as if he had offered one, so too, whoever discusses the Mishkan and Mikdash will have a tremendous merit and will be blessed with great reward." Support for his words can be drawn from the Midrash Vayikra Raba (7:3), "Although we do not have today the form of the Beis ha'Mikdash, today, Hashem said that when we learn it, it is as if we have built it."
May we merit to truly see it rebuilt bi'Meherah b'Yameinu!