Ezrat Nashim (Women's Courtyard)
The Ezrat Nashim is a courtyard found before the Azara (courtyard) and existed only in Bayit Sheni (Second Temple). It is used to gather the people during special events such as the Simchat Beit HaShoeva (Water Drawing Ceremony), and Ma’mad Hakel (The Hakel Ceremony).
In the Ezrat Nashim there are four rooms called Lishachaot, each serving a different purpose:
- Lishkat HaNezirim (The Nazarites Room)-Nezirim (Nazarites) go there after completing their period as a Nazir (Nazerite) in order to shave their heads.
- Lishkat HaShmanim (Room of the Oil)- this room houses the oil and wine used for the daily service.
- Lishkat HaMetzoraim (Room of the Lepers)- this room houses a Mikvah for people who had tzara’at (leprosy) to immerse after their period of tahara (purification).
- Lishkat HaEtzim (Room of the Wood)- this room houses wood to be used for the Mizbe’ach (altar). In this room, Kohanim (priests) check the wood to make sure they don’t have worms.
Fun fact: The Ezrat Nashim received its name because during the Simchat Beit HaShoeva that Rabbis felt that in order to maintain the sanctity of the celebrations, men and women should be separated. Therefore a balcony was built surrounding the courtyard and the women danced there as the men danced below.