The Women's Courtyard
To the east of the Main
Courtyard stood a large enclosed area called the Women’s Courtyard,
measuring 135 cubits (202½ feet) to a side. Entry into this area was not
restricted to women, as its name might imply, but in fact was used as a
staging area for the multitudes of people arriving daily bearing sacrifices
and gifts who would assemble here before proceeding into the Main Courtyard.
It was called the Women's Courtyard because the women would specifically
gather here to watch the Rejoicing of the Water-drawing which took place
each year on the holiday of Succos. On the holiday of
Succos the Rejoicing of the Water-drawing would take place inside the
Women's Courtyard. The celebration began on the second night of the holiday
when the great sages and pious men of the generation would assemble in this
courtyard to dance, juggle, and sing God's praises while scores of
Leviim stood upon fifteen round steps at the western side of the
courtyard providing musical accompaniment. This rejoicing continued all
night until dawn when, with great ceremony, a delegation was dispatched to a
nearby spring to draw water for that day's water libation. [The water
libation, which was only performed on Succos, entailed pouring a
pitcher of water into a bowl at the southwest corner of the Altar.] Numerous
spectators, both men and women, stood along the sides of the Women's
Courtyard to watch these festivities. The mingling of men and women at this
event led to a certain amount of frivolity and steps were taken to correct
this. The Sages came up with an innovative solution in which the women would
gather upon balconies constructed within the courtyard while the men would
stand below on ground level.
|Interior of the Women's
These balconies for the women ran along
the southern, eastern, and northern sides of the courtyard, but not the
western side. Halfway up the walls of the Women's Courtyard were protruding
stone ledges that supported the wooden planks which formed the floorboards
of the balcony. Above the floorboards they built row upon row of ascending
steps to afford all of the women a good view of the festivities below. Only
the protruding balcony supports were permanent fixtures in the courtyard,
while the floorboards and steps were put up each year during Succos
and then taken down after the holiday.
_______________For more information on this topic, and to submit
questions or comments for the author, please visit the blog post of this class.
TZAV AND PESACH:
Shlomo Katz - 5766
Freedom and Speech
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758
Dangers of Being Leader
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5774
In Command of Redemption
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765
What's With the Number Four?
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757
Lessons In Exile
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5764
How Do We Approach This Child?
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764
Remembering The Avodah, Part 2
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763
Why are you asleep?
Shlomo Katz - 5771
Introduction to Maggid
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755
The Evil Son
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756
Why Are The Laws Of Korban Todah Found In Parshas Tzav?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771
Forget Your Belt...
Rabbi Moshe Peretz Gilden - 5762
Next Year In Jerusalem - If...
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755
Yosef’s Bones And Splitting Of The Sea: A Lesson In Unity
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5767