The sages of Israel teach that ten miracles were continuously in effect, and visibly discernible, in the Holy Temple. These miracles are recorded as follows:
No woman ever miscarried from the aroma of the burning offerings;
The sacrifices themselves never became offensive;
No fly was ever seen where the offerings were prepared;
The High Priest never experienced a defilement on Yom Kippur;
Rains never extinguished the altar fire;
The altar smoke always rose to heaven in a straight line;
No disqualification was ever found in the barley offering, twin loaves and showbread;
All would stand compact together in the Courtyard -
Yet when it came time to bow prostrate, all would have ample space;
No snake or scorpion ever caused harm in Jerusalem;
…and not one man ever said to another: “Jerusalem is too crowded for me to find lodging overnight.”
(Chapters of the Fathers 5)
The presence of these miracles indicates the constant Divine Providence over Israel and Jerusalem – in itself a miracle of unparalleled proportions. This special relationship with G-d made itself felt in the spiritual realm as well. The Second Temple period saw the rise of a chain of great Jewish leaders, and the wise men of the Sanhedrin who dwelled in the Temple. Among their numbers were such luminaries as Shimon ben Shetach, Shemaya and Avtalyon, Hillel and Shammai, Yonatan ben Uziel, R. Yochanan ben Zakkai and many more. The learned men of the Sanhedrin, housed in their Temple chambers, served as the eyes of the nation, and many foreign kings and wise men visited the rabbis of the Sanhedrin to debate matters of faith.
Thus Torah and wisdom flourished around the Second Temple. The House of G-d properly served as the center of wisdom and guidance for the non-Jew as well, from both neighboring countries and distant lands.