- Terumas Hadeshen

Terumas Hadeshen

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Terumas Hadeshen

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Segment 5                                                                                                    Esther Livingstone
The Terumas Hadeshen / Separating the Ash and the Removal of the Ash

The Terumas Hadeshen/ separating a portion of ash from the previous day’s ashes that were on the ma’aracha/mizbei’ach’s  pyre, marked the start of the avodah performed each day in the Beis HaMikdash, and  this privilege was allocated in the first lottery of the day.  Doing this is a mitzvas  asei as it says “ ...He shall take up/separate the ash of what the fire has consumed of the burnt offering on the altar, and shall place it next to the altar.” (Vayikra 6:3)

1.       At what time of the day was the terumas hadeshen performed?
2.       What 3 things did the Kohen who merited doing the terumas hadeshen need to do first?
3.       What light source did the Kohen have, to help him navigate his way to the kiyor and up the mizbei’achs’s ramp?
4.    What material was the firepan (shovel) made of, that the Kohen took with him to the mizbei’ach ha’olah?
5.    Did the Kohen take ashes from the top of the heap of ashes on the ma’aracha/mizbei’ach’s pyre?
6.    What was the minimum amount of ashes required for the terumas hadeshsen?
7.    Where does the Kohen put these ashes after he descends from the mizbei’ach?
8.    What else was placed at this same location?
9.    What 3 things did other Kohanim do immediately after the completion of the avoda of the terumas hadeshen?
10.    What was the tapuach?
11.    How were the ashes on the tapuach removed from the mizbei’ach?
12.     Where were they then taken to, and who did this?
13.    Did the Kohen doing this wear his regular clothing?
14.    Were the ashes scattered or poured on one spot?
15.    Was this an easy task, and did Kohanim wish to do it?


1.    On normal days, excluding holidays, it would be performed close to dawn. (Hil Temidin U’Mussafin 2:11)
2.    He needed to immerse in the mikveh, dress, and wash/ sanctify his hands and feet from the kiyor.   (Hil Temidin U’Mussafin 2:12)
3.    He had only the light of the ma’aracha/ the mizbeia’chs pyre, but this was sufficient. (Avodas Hakorbanos  p24).
4.    It was made of silver. (Hil Temidin U’Mussafin 2:12)
5.    No. The Kohen would move the coals on top to either side, and then pick up a shovelful of thoroughly consumed ashes from the innermost area.  (Most commentators say that the coals had to be from burnt limbs, not just from burnt wood.) (“He shall separate (some of) the ash from what the fire has consumed of the olah offering...”Vayikra 6:3) (Hil Temidin U’Mussafin 2:12)
6.    A kometz- approximately the volume of two olives. (Avodas Hakorbanos  p 27 ) (Hil Ma’aseh Hakarbanos 13:14).
7.    He puts them on the ground in a place called the beis hadeshen, which was 3 tefachim -about 30 cm-from the mizbei’ach. (“He shall place it next to the mizbei’ach” -Vayikra 6:3 &1:16)  Most commentators say that these ashes were miraculously swallowed into the floor immediately. (Yoma 21a)
8.    The ashes of the menorah, the ashes of the mizbei’ach haketores/inner mizbei’ach, and the crops of bird olah offerings (Vayikra 1:16. See Rashi, referencing  Yoma 21b).(Rambam Hil Temidin U’mussafin 2:12).
9.    They sanctified their hands and feet; then went up to the top of the mizbei’ach to gather any limbs of the korbanos olah, as well as any parts of other korbanos that hadn’t been completely burned, and temporarily moved them to the sides of the mizbei’ach.  Lastly, they picked up the ash from all around the mizbei’ach and piled it atop the tapuach/mound of ash.   All this was done as the area needed to be properly prepared for the new korbanos of that day. (Hil Temidin U’Mussafin 2:13)
10.    The tapuach was a large mound of ashes in the centre of the mizbei’ach’s surface where all the ashes were piled each morning. It resembled an apple in shape, thus its name, which means apple. (Tamid 2:2)
11.    When the mound became very large, the ashes would be gathered into the pesachtor/very large bowl, which was then slowly lowered down the ramp, via chains attached to it on both sides. (Hil Temidin U’Mussafin 2:13)
12.    It was taken to the shefech hadeshen/ “where the ash is poured,” a pure place outside the walls of Yerushalayim (Vayikra 6:4 and 4:12).  This was a clean and sheltered place where the winds did not blow strongly, and where swine would not go through it. As this wasn’t considered an avodah, any Kohen who wished to, outside of ba’alei mum -those with certain types of defects- could do this. (Hil Temidin U’Mussafin 2:14 &15)
13.    No, he wore older, more worn priestly garments. (“ufashat es begadav... Vayikra 6:4).  Rashi says this was not obligatory, but was rather derech eretz, so that his regular clothing shouldn’t get soiled. Rambam says he also wore this clothing for the terumas  hadeshen. (Hil Temidin U’Mussafin 2:10)
14.    They were poured on one spot as it says “vesamo/ and place it.” (Vayikra 6:3).  (Hil Temidin U’Mussafin 2:15)(Even though this passuk refers to the terumas hadeshen, the gemara in Pesachim 27b references it for the removal of the ashes from the city.)
15.    It was a tedious and time consuming task, and though there weren’t “koftzim rabim” (too much competition) for it (Yoma 22a), the Mishnah in Tamid 2:2 tells us that the Kohanim were never lax when it came to the removal of the ash! (Hil Temidin U’Mussafin 2:14)

*One thing we can learn from this mitzvah is that no avodah performed for Hashem should be considered degrading, no matter how demeaning it may appear. (The Taryag Mitzvos)

Sefer Avodah- Rambam- by Rav Mordechai Yehuda Leib Zacks-Pub- Mossad HaRav Kook-1978
Avodas Hakorbanos-  by Rav Aharon HaKohen (Kagan ) Translation- Rabbi Moshe Weiss – Pub -Artscroll  2020
The Taryag Mitzvos-  Rabbi A.Y. Kahan- Keser Torah Publications- 1988
Artscroll  (Stone) Chumash-  Editors- Rabbis Scherman and Zlotowitz.

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