What is pshat on the first rashi on the daf?
Please see our INSIGHTS to Yoma 16b, in which we discussed P'shat in Rashi on 16b as well as Rashi on 17a (DH Ela Lav). If you have a more specific question regarding that Rashi, let us know. For your convenience, I am including a copy of the INSIGHTS below.
All the best,
Insights to Yoma 16b
1) THE LOCATION OF THE MIZBE'ACH QUESTIONS: The Gemara attempts to answer a contradiction between the Mishnah in Midos (1:6) and the Mishnah in Tamid (3:3) concerning the location of the Lishkas ha'Tela'im. The Gemara suggests that the Mishnah in Midos is the opinion of Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov, for we find elsewhere that he is the Tana of a Mishnah in Midos (2:5).
The Gemara attempts to bring additional proof that the Mishnah in Midos is Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov by showing that another Mishnah in Midos (2:4) is based on his opinion. That Mishnah says that the Eastern Gate to Har ha'Bayis was lower than the other walls, because the Kohen standing on Har ha'Mishchah burning the Parah Adumah there would have to see the entranceway to the Heichal. If the wall on top of the Eastern Gate was as high as all of the others, he would not be able to see the entranceway to the Heichal from his vantage point, since the ascents on Har ha'Bayis, blocked the view through the Eastern Gate to the Heichal. Instead, the wall above the Eastern Gate was made lower, so that he could see the entranceway to the Heichal above the gate (and not through its opening). That Mishnah -- which says that it was not possible to see the Heichal's entranceway through the Eastern Gate -- makes sense only according to the opinion of Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov, who holds (Midos 2:6) that there was an additional ascent in the Azarah which added an extra Amah to the height of the floor of the Azarah, thereby blocking the view of the Heichal via the Eastern Gate.
Rav Ada bar Ahavah attempts to refute this proof that the Mishnayos in Midos are the opinion of Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov. He offers an alternate explanation why the Kohen could not see into the Heichal from Har ha'Mishchah, even if there was no extra Amah. He says that perhaps the Mishnah in Midos (2:4) is in accordance with Rebbi Yehudah , who says that the Mizbe'ach stood in the center of the Azarah and thereby blocked the Heichal's entrance from being seen by the Kohen standing on Har ha'Mishchah peering through the Eastern Gate.
The Gemara says that this is not a valid explanation, because the Mishnah in Midos (5:1) implies that the Mizbe'ach was not in the middle of the Azarah, but it was to the south. Consequently, the Gemara's proof (that since Midos 2:4 is according to Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov, then all of Midos must be according to Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov) is still valid.
RASHI (DH Ruba d'Mizbe'ach) explains that when the Gemara refutes Rav Ada bar Ahavah's assertion that the Mishnah in Midos (2:4) could be Rebbi Yehudah, it is not only refuting the suggestion that the Mizbe'ach was centered in the middle of the Azarah, but it is also proving that the Mizbe'ach was so far to the southern side of the Azarah that it did not block the Kohen's view of [part of] the Heichal's entranceway when peering from Har ha'Mishchah. Consequently, there must have been some other object or ascent blocking his view, which is true only according to Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov. In other words, the Gemara is not only proving that the Mishnah in Midos (2:4) cannot be Rebbi Yehudah, but it is also proving that it cannot be any Tana other than Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov.
Rashi explains this in the follow ways.
(1) First, Rashi says that when the Mishnah in Midos (5:1) accounts for what took up the 135-Amah-width of the Azarah (see Chart #3), it leaves 25 Amos unaccounted for. Some of these 25 Amos comprised the area of the Shulchanos and the Nanasim, and the remaining Amos comprised the area between the southern wall of the Azarah and the ramp of the Mizbe'ach. Since it does not specify how many Amos were in each of those areas, we must assume, says Rashi, that they were split evenly. However, we must first deduct 4 Amos for the area of the Shulchanos (the minimum possible space that they take up -- see Rashash), says Rashi, leaving us with 21 Amos to divide evenly between the Nanasim and the area south of the ramp, such that 10.5 Amos were between the southern wall and the ramp, and 10.5 comprised the area of the Shulchanos and Nanasim. Accordingly, the northern side of the Mizbe'ach reached to 5 Amos passed the center point of the width of the Azarah. Therefore, the Kohen on Har ha'Mishchah would be able to see a part of the Heichal's entranceway beyond the Mizbe'ach, by peering on the northern side of the Mizbe'ach where the Mizbe'ach was recessed inwards two Amos, above the recession of the Yesod and the Sovev.
Rashi then questions this explanation and says that if the Mishnah does not specify how much space the Shulchanos took up, why should we assume that they took up 4 Amos? Perhaps they were included in the space of the Nanasim and took up no additional space from the width of the Azarah! If so, we would divide the unaccounted-for 25 Amos evenly, such that 12.5 (instead of 10.5) comprised the area between the southern wall and the ramp, and 12.5 comprised the area of the Nanasim. Accordingly, the northern side of the Mizbe'ach extended 7 Amos passed the center point of the width of the Azarah, such that the Mizbe'ach completely covered the entranceway to the Heichal (which extended only 5 Amos passed the center point), even taking into account the 2-Amah recession above the midpoint of the Mizbe'ach due to the Yesod and the Sovev. If so, the Mishnah in Midos (2:4) could be true even without being Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov, for even without an additional Amah-high ascent in the Azarah, the Heichal's entranceway was blocked from the Kohen's view by the Mizbe'ach!
Finally, Rashi tells us the explanation of Rabeinu Yitzchak ben Yehudah ("Moreh Tzedek" -- the word Mori in our editions should be corrected to Moreh ). He explains that since the Mishnah does not specify how these extra 25 Amos were used, we can assume that 12 (instead of 12.5) were between the southern wall and the ramp, and 13 (instead of 12.5) comprised the area of the Nanasim. If so, although the Mizbe'ach covered almost all of the Kohen's view of the Heichal's entranceway, it left a small space of half an Amah in width through which he could see the Heichal's entranceway! It must be, then, that the Mishnah in Midos (2:4) is indeed Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov.
There are a number of questions with Rashi's explanation here.
(a) According to both Rashi's explanation and the Moreh Tzedek's explanation, we assume that when there is an unspecified amount to be distributed to two places (to the south of the ramp and to the area of the Nanasim), we divide it evenly. If so, how do they explain the very next line of the Gemara, "Shema Minah Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov Hi?" Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov says (Zevachim 59a, and Yoma 37a) that the Mizbe'ach was only in the southern part of the Azarah (that is, the northern side of the Mizbe'ach came to the center point of the Azarah and not passed it), leaving a good 5 Amos of space through which the Kohen could see the entranceway to the Heichal. But the only way to have the Mizbe'ach completely in the south is if the 25 unaccounted-for Amos are divided unevenly (Rashi 17a, DH Ela Lav)! Why does Rashi use the assumption that the 25 Amos must be divided evenly if following that assumption will mean that the Mishnah cannot be according to Rebbi Elazar ben Yakov?
(b) Rashi writes that he is not satisfied with the first explanation, because perhaps the space of the Shulchanos is grouped together with that of the Nanasim. But he also rejects the Moreh Tzedek's explanation, because he does not like the idea of an uneven split of the unaccounted-for Amos. Rashi concludes by saying, "The best explanation, therefore, is the one that I explained [above]." To which explanation is he referring? He obviously is not referring to the two explanations that he rejected. The only other explanation that he gave, though (12.5 Amos of space to the south of the ramp of the Mizbe'ach), does not accomplish the Gemara's goal of proving that the Mishnah in Midos is Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov, since according to that explanation the Mizbe'ach indeed blocks the Heichal entranceway! Which, then, is Rashi's preferred explanation?
(c) Rashi later (17a, DH Ela Lav) writes that the Mizbe'ach reached 7 Amos north of the center of the width of the Azarah. That does not fit with his own explanation (that it reach 5 Amos north of center) or with the Moreh Tzedek's explanation (6.5 Amos north of center). The other explanation (12.5 Amos of space to the south of the ramp of the Mizbe'ach) indeed pushes the northern edge of the Mizbe'ach 7 Amos north of the center of the Azarah, but it does not accomplish the Gemara's goal of proving that the Mishnah in Midos is Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov. Where, then, does he get 7 Amos? (MAHARSHA)
ANSWERS: (a) The explanations that Rashi gives here are learning that the Gemara is not proving that the Mishnah in Midos (5:1) regarding the layout of the Azarah was taught by Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov. Rather, the Gemara is merely disproving that it is expressing Rebbi Yehudah's opinion regarding the whereabouts of the Mizbe'ach. Another Mishnah in Midos (2:4) will follow another opinion of Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov's, regarding the extra Amah ascent in the Azarah, and this is what the Gemara means that the Mishnah is Rebbi Elazar ben Yakov. As far as where the Mizbe'ach was located, though, it follows a third opinion, neither Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov nor Rebbi Yehudah, that puts the northern edge of the Mizbe'ach 5 or 6.5 Amos north of the center of the Azarah. The Gemara is just trying to prove that the Mizbe'ach did not block the Heichal's entranceway. This answers the first question.
(b) Rashi himself prefers neither of the two explanations which he questions. Rather, he prefers the middle explanation, even though according to that explanation, it cannot be proven that the Mizbe'ach did not block the Heichal's entranceway.
How can Rashi prefer that explanation? Perhaps the Mizbe'ach indeed blocked the Kohen's view of the Heichal's entranceway and thus he could not see it from the Har ha'Mishchah! Rashi answers this question later on (top of 17a) by explaining that the Mishnah certainly cannot be Rebbi Yehudah, who says that the Mizbe'ach was in the center of the Azarah, because that would leave only 3.5 Amos for the area of the Shulchanos and Nanasim and they certainly took up more space than that. Why does the Gemara conclude that the Mishnah follows Rebbi Elazar ben Yakov, then (who holds that the Mizbe'ach was entirely in the south), and not a third opinion? Rashi seems to learn like TOSFOS (DH Ruba), who says that the Gemara is only accepting the possibility of two opinions: the Mizbe'ach is either exactly in the center, or completely in the south, and there is no opinion that says it was in-between those two locations.
(c) This also answers the third question, why Rashi says (17a) that the Mizbe'ach was 7 Amos to the north of center. Rashi, having rejected the first explanation and that of the Moreh Tzedek, also retracts his assertion that the 25 extra Amos must be divided evenly. Therefore, the Mishnah is indeed Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov, as we have explained. However, he notes that had we remained with the assertion that the extra Amos must be divided evenly, then there will be 12.5 Amos between the southern wall and the ramp, pushing the Mizbe'ach 7 Amos north of center.