MISHNAH - Maseches Midos is comprised of five chapters describing every part of the Beis ha'Mikdash compound, with full measurements of every section of the Mikdash. (In Rav Kapach's Perush ha'Mishnah of the Rambam, the last two chapters are joined, making a total of only four Perakim.) As we mentioned in our introduction to Kinim, in the printing of the Mishnayos, Midos appears after Tamid and before Kinim.
Throughout the ages, many great scholars have attempted to prepare diagrams, full-scale sketches, and, more recently, even scale models of the Beis ha'Mikdash. In a separate mailing we discuss the most common ones and the major differences between them.
Keeping a diagram of the Azarah of the Beis ha'Mikdash on hand will greatly enhance the study of Maseches Midos. The most easily accessible diagrams are (1) the one printed in the Vilna Shas, usually after Maseches Midos, which was drawn by Rabeinu Yonasan of Rozenai, and (2) the scale diagram of the Tiferes Yisrael, printed in the Vilna Mishnayos that include his commentary (either in the back of the volume, or in the second chapter of Midos, depending on the printing). We have prepared a comprehensive discussion of the diagram of the Tiferes Yisrael, and we discuss some of the printer's errors in the various diagrams of the Beis ha'Mikdash, and we compare the various opinions to each other.
In the Background section to Midos, for each of the places mentioned in the Maseches we will refer to the number of that location in the two Beis ha'Mikdash diagrams mentioned above, using the following initials: VS (the diagram in the Vilna Shas) and TY (the diagram of the Tiferes Yisrael).
Our Review Questions and Answers are prepared based on Mishnayos Midos with the commentary of the Rav (Bartenura), and minor additions from the commentary of the Tiferes Yisrael.
RAV - Rav Ovadiah of Bartenura, printed in the Mishnayos. As was his style, most of the commentary is based on the words of the Rambam and the Rosh.
RABEINU SHEMAYAH - known as the RASH, a student of Rashi (not to be confused with the RASH on other Masechtos, who is Rabeinu Shimshon mi'Shantz). There are variations in the Girsa of his commentary as it appears in our Gemara and in a manuscript version. A comparison of the different Girsa'os can be found at the end of Rav Avraham Sofer's printing of the commentary of Rav Moshe Kazis (see below, Acharonim).
ROSH - printed in our volumes of the Shas, the Rosh's commentary on Midos is short, but sufficient. It is recommended that one who is learning Midos from the Mishnayos printed in the Vilna Shas learn it with the commentary of the Rosh.
PERUSH HA'MISHNAH OF THE RAMBAM - the Rambam's commentary that is printed in our volumes of Shas is a translation (from Arabic to Hebrew) of the first edition (Mahadura Kama) of the Rambam's commentary on Mishnayos, which he wrote at a young age. After the Rambam completed writing the Mishneh Torah, he re-edited the original draft of his Perush (that he had written in Arabic). One of his aims in doing so was to ensure that everything in the commentary was consistent with his rulings in the Mishneh Torah. This edited version is known as the Mahadura Basra ("final edition"). This final version was discovered and published in recent years by Rav Yosef Kapach (the "Kapach edition").
ME'IRI - Rabeinu Menachem ben Shlomo (d. 1315) wrote his comprehensive Halachic work, "Beis ha'Bechirah," on 37 Masechtos of Shas. A student of the Rashba, he sometimes even cites from commentaries as late as those of the Ritva. Almost never mentioning another Rishon by name, the Me'iri created "nicknames" for the commentators from whom he often cites, such as "Gedolei ha'Rabanim" for Rashi, etc. A convenient list of these, along with their true identities, can be found at the beginning of the Beis ha'Bechirah on Beitzah.
PISKEI TOSFOS - the Halachic conclusions of a now-lost Ba'al ha'Tosfos are recorded in the Piskei Tosfos that is printed in the Vilna Shas. Through its terse words we often are able to deduce the question and answer of Tosfos. The Mishneh l'Melech in Hilchos Bi'as Mikdash often quotes the Piskei Tosfos in this context.
RAV MOSHE KAZIS - of Mantoba, Italy, circa 1600 (during the time of the Tosfos Yom Tov). As Rav Avraham Sofer -- who printed the book (1963) from manuscript and enhanced it with references and insights -- points out, many Italian Torah scholars of the time printed works on Maseches Midos and the Beis ha'Mikdash, and this was one of the first. In his commentary, Rav Moshe shows a tremendous proficiency in all subjects related to the Beis ha'Mikdash. He is mentioned with great respect by the Minchas Shai and other Gedolim. Rav Moshe was a disciple of Rav Menachem Azaryah of Pano, the RAMA MI'PANO.
The broad interest in Italy in Maseches Midos appears to have an interesting background. On Rosh Hashanah of the year 1554, the Shas and all other Sifrei Kodesh were burned in Rome, and teaching or owning the Shas was outlawed. In Shevat of that year, the Shas was burned in the other cities of Italy. This horrible decree remained in effect for some 75 years. However, only the prohibition of owning a Shas appears to have been enforced in many cities, including Mantoba. For this reason, throughout his Sefer, Rav Moshe Kazis quotes no Gemara or Tosfos, and even writes in one place, "Because of the well-known decree, I was not able to see if the Gemara discussed this issue...." However, he quotes extensively from many other Sefarim, such as Mishnayos with Bartenura, Rambam with Kesef Mishneh, etc., and through them he had access to some quotes from Gemara, Rashi, and Tosfos in the Shas.
It appears that for this reason, the Chachamim of Italy devoted their energies to learning Mishnayos Midos, for which it was not necessary to have a broad knowledge of the Gemara, as opposed to the other Masechtos of Mishnayos which are discussed extensively in the Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi.
SHILTEI HA'GIBORIM - this was another Italian work on the Beis ha'Mikdash and Bigdei Kehunah, written by Rav Avraham Sha'ar Aryeh of Mantoba, 1612. It is quoted extensively by the Tosfos Yom Tov.
TOSFOS YOM TOV - the classic commentary on the Mishnayos, printed in the Mishnayos, by Rav Yom Tov Lipman Heller (1579-1654), author of the Ma'adanei Yom Tov, Ma'adanei Melech, and Divrei Chamudos on the Rosh. He was a disciple of the Maharal of Prague.
CHANUKAS HA'BAYIS - by Rav Malkiel Ashkenazi of Mantoba. A wonderful Sefer discussing in detail every part of the Beis ha'Mikdash, and including a detailed diagram of the Beis ha'Mikdash, printed together with Perush Rav Moshe Kazis on Midos (see (a) above) and enhanced with insight by Rav Avraham Sofer. The author appears to have written this commentary around the year 1620. Unlike Rav Moshe Kazis, he quotes extensively from Gemara and Tosfos (although he refrains from mentioning Tosfos by name, as Rav Sofer points out in his introduction (p. 12)).
CHANUKAS HA'BAYIS - by Rav Moshe Chefetz (Gentili) of Gorizia, Venice, 1706, who discusses the various parts of the Beis ha'Mikdash.
BI'UR HA'GRA - printed in the Vilna Mishnayos (the common set, with Tiferes Yisrael).
TIFERES YISRAEL - the popular commentary on Mishnayos of Rav Yisrael Lipschitz of Danzig (1782-1860). The Tiferes Yisrael carefully examines every aspect of the Beis ha'Mikdash, providing the basis for his diagram and its description (as described in our Beis ha'Mikdash mailing).
EZRAS KOHANIM - An phenomenal work on Maseches Midos, Mishnah by Mishnah, that misses literally not a single Gemara in Bavli or Yerushalmi, Tosefta, Sifri, Sifra, or Rishon that discusses a matter pertinent to the Mishnah he is discussing. A truly worthwhile investment for those interested in studying the Maseches in a comprehensive way -- if it can be found it print.
KOLLEL IYUN HADAF has prepared a translation and adaptation of the notes of the Tiferes Yisrael to his diagram on the Beis ha'Mikdash. The Kollel's invaluable "Insights to the Daf" touch on important topics on the Mishnayos of Midos. Our helpful "Background to the Daf" make the Maseches much more approachable, with translations, Girsa notes, and introductions to concepts discussed on the Daf. Summarize what you have learned with our "Review Questions and Answers," enhance your learning with our "Outlines of the Daf." Ask the Kollel your questions on the Daf and receive clear, authoritative answers. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.