THE WOOD FOR THE MA'ARACHAH
They began putting wood on the Mizbe'ach to arrange the Ma'arachah (pile);
Any wood may be used for the Ma'arachah, except for olive-wood or grapevines.
They usually used branches of fig, nut and pine trees.
The Kohen (who merited to do the Terumas ha'Deshen) arranged the big Ma'arachah (on which the Tamid is burned) in the east, with an opening in the east. The ends of the long logs would touch the Tapu'ach.
Space was left between the logs, in which they would ignite the twigs. They would pick nice fig logs (that make coals).
The second Ma'arachah was for the sake of Ketores, it was four Amos north of the southwest corner;
They would put an amount of logs estimated to make five Sa'im of coals (Gra - four Sa'im were needed);
(This is on weekdays.) On Shabbos, they put enough for eight Sa'im. The extra coals were to burn the two sticks of Levonah of the Lechem ha'Panim.
Limbs and fats (from yesterday's Korbanos) that were not consumed are returned to the Ma'arachah; the two Ma'arachos were lit.
The Kohanim descended to the Lishkas ha'Gazis.
(Gemara - Rava): (The Mishnah says that sometimes there were 300 Kor (about 100,000 liters) in the Tapu'ach.) This is a Guzma (exaggeration).
(Mishnah): They gave the Tamid to drink from a gold cup.
(Rava): This is a Guzma. (Rreally, it was copper as nice as gold.)
(R. Ami): The Torah, prophets, and Chachamim all use Lashon Havai (imprecise speech);
The Torah uses Lashon Havai -- "Arim Gedolos u'Vetzoros ba'Shamayim." Surely, the walls do not reach up to Heaven! This is a Guzma. (It would seem that the verse cited is Devarim 9:20, in which the Torah itself (i.e. Moshe) says this. however, Rashi (Devarim 1:28) and Torah Ohr attribute this teaching to Devarim 1:28, which cites the words of the Meraglim. -P. Feldman)
Chachamim use Lashon Havai, regarding the Tapu'ach and giving the Tamid to drink from a gold cup;
The prophets use Lashon Havai -- "va'Tibaka ha'Aretz b'Kolam (the land cleaved from their voices)."
(Shmuel): Chachamim used Lashon Havai in three places -- the Tapu'ach, the golden vine, and the Paroches (curtain in the Mikdash).
He argues with Rava, who says that the Tamid did not really drink from a gold cup. Shmuel holds that it did. (It is not one of the three Leshonos of Havai);
This is because we do not show poverty in the place of wealth (i.e. the Mikdash. Rather, everything is done in grandeur.)
(Mishnah): There was a golden vine on the entrance to the Heichal, supported by poles. Donations of gold grapes or clusters were hung on the vine;
R. Eliezer b'Rebbi Tzadok says, 300 Kohanim were needed to move it.
(Mishnah - R. Shimon ben Gamliel): The Paroches was one Tefach thick. It was made from 72 Nirim (rings on the loom through which threads pass. Ra'avad - there were 72 different pictures along its width.) Each thread was spun from 24 threads (six threads each of gold and of three colors of wool);
It was 40 Amos long and 20 Amos wide. It was made from 820,000 Dinarim (or threads; Mefaresh - 82 young girls not prone to become Nidah);
Every year, they made two. Three hundred Kohanim were needed to immerse it. (This is a Guzma. Me'iri (Shekalim 8:3) - also the cost is exaggerated.)
(Mishnah): They began putting wood on the Mizbe'ach... any wood may be used, except for olivewood or grapevines.
Question: What is the reason?
Answer #1 (Rav Papa): These branches have bumps. (Therefore, they do not burn nicely, and they make much smoke.)
Answer #2 (Rav Acha bar Yakov): Olives and grapes are crucial to the settlement of Eretz Yisrael. Therefore we do not want to cut such trees.
Question (Beraisa): "Al ha'Etzim Asher Al ha'Esh" alludes to wood that breaks up and turns to fire (burns);
These are reeds of young trees that burn nicely. They do not have bumps that extend to the inside;
Question: Are all species of trees valid for the Ma'arachah?!
Answer: Yes, all species are valid except for olivewood or grapevines. They usually used fig, nut and pine branches.
R. Eliezer forbids also mettle, oak, date, carob and sycamore wood.
According to Rav Papa, we understand the argument. R. Eliezer forbids them, even though the bumps do not extend to the inside. The first Tana permits them for this reason.
However, according to Rav Acha, why does the first Tana permit date wood? Surely dates are important for the settlement of Eretz Yisrael!
Counter-question: Why didn't you ask about fig wood? All agree that it was often used, even though figs are important for settlement!
Answer: You must say they would use (wood of) barren fig trees (that do not produce fruit);
Answer: Likewise, they would use barren date trees!
Question: Are there really barren fig trees?!
Answer: There are, like Rachbah taught:
(Rachbah): If one rubs the bark off white fig branches, if there were any seeds inside, they will fall out, the branch is sterilized.
We plant it on the riverbank, where it is always wet. The branches grow bark, but not fruit.
The branches are so thick that a bridge cannot bear the weight of (Rosh; Mefaresh - cannot fit) three of them.