The Ulam

The Ulam was an antechamber to the Heichal. The room was mostly empty. At the entrance of the Heichal there were two tables. One of marble (according to one opinion silver) and one of gold. (A new set of lechem hapanim was placed on the shulchan each Shabbos. Before the new set was placed on the shulchan it was placed on the marble table at the entrance of the Heichal. The old set was removed and placed on the golden table, before being distributed to the Kohanim.) The length of the entire building was one hundred amos. Since the width of the Heichal was only seventy amos, the Ulam had an extra fifteen amos on each side. These wings were separate rooms called "Beis Hachalifos". According to most Rishonim the width of the Ulam was the remaining seventy amos.

Ualm according to Rashi However Rashi’s opinion is that the length of the Ulam is only those twenty amos in front of the entrance, parallel to the width of the Heichal which was also twenty amos. Accordingly, the ta’im on the northern and southern sides of the Heichal extended all the way back to the eastern wall of the Ulam. (See picture. The purple area alone, is the Ulam, according to Rashi.)

The width of the Ulam was eleven amos. The height of the Ulam was one hundred amos, as was the height of the Heichal. The Mishnah (Middos 3:8) writes that cedar beams were placed between the (eastern) wall of the Ulam and the (eastern) wall of the Heichal in order to prevent the wall from collapsing. Golden chains dangled from the ceiling of the Ulam. The Pirchei (young) kohanim would climb these chains to see the crowns which were in the windows of the Heichal. (Middos 3:8) There was also a golden vine lying on poles, near the entrance of the Heichal. Any gold that was donated to Beis Hamikdosh was placed on this vine in the form of a grape, leaf or cluster, until it was needed.

© Copyright by Yehuda Landy
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