Thursday, March 15, 2007

not building the mishkan on shabbos

Rashi explains that the reason the Torah prefaces the command to build the Mishkan in Parshas VaYakhel with a repetition of the mitzvah of Shabbos is to tell us that building the Mishkan, albeit being a mitzvah, cannot be done on Shabbos. The Netziv has an interesting chiddush based on the Torah’s use of the passive voice (niphal) in the pasuk, “sheishes yamim te’aseh melacha…”, six days work shall be done, but on Shabbos it must cease. The Mishna in Shabbos writes that according to Hillel it is permitted to start a process on Friday that will continue autonomously on Shabbos, e.g. although it is prohibited to dye wool on Shabbos, it is permitted to place wool in a dye pot before Shabbos and let the wool continue to soak on Shabbos; although it is prohibited to do laundry on Shabbos, one can place clothes in the washing machine and set it running before Shabbos. We do this all the time – we set a time before Shabbos, and the work we need done occurs on Shabbos. Says the Netziv, by the Mishkan all work shall be done (passive voice) before Shabbos, meaning even if you are not the one doing the work but just set a timer or put wool in the dye pot etc. so the work continues automatically, this too can not be done for the purpose of building the Mishkan because of its higher level of kedusha.

In addition to the prohibition of building the Mishkan on Shabbos and Yom Tov, the Rambam tells us (Bais haBechira 1:12) that Mishkan can be built only by day and not by night. In the very same halacha the Rambam tells us that both men and women are obligated in the mitzvah of building a Mishkan. The Marcheshes asks: if the Mishkan can only be built during specific time periods, why is it not categorized as a mitzvas aseh she’hazman gerama from which women are exempt? A whole range of answers are possible, some of which my son will hopefully speak about this Shabbos.


  1. Perhaps the time-dependence in building the mishkan is not for the chiyyuv, but rather for the p'tur? Unlike tefillin or lulav, where everyone must do the mitzvah everyday on which the chiyyuv applies, does any given person truly have a chiyyuv to work on the building of the Mishkan every day from its assignment until its completion, or is it a more transcendent chiyyuv whose only time-dependence is regarding when one is exempt from the mitzvah, in the sense of not being allowed to work on it?

    As a similar idea, perhaps the difference is that it's a communal mitzvah?

    It strikes me that both of these could perhaps also apply to the mitzvah of testifying in beis din, which I recall you discussed some weeks back regarding the scope of its obligation.

  2. I was thinking along these same lines as well. The first approach I thought really breaks down into two seperate possibilities:
    1) the chiyuv is ongoing, but the kiyum is limited to a specific time (RHS quotes this from RYBS to explain why milah is not zman gerama). Zman gerama only applies to a limitation in the chiyuv.
    2) The chovas hagavra is 24x7, but there is a din in the cheftza shel mikdash that something built at night or on Shabbos is not called binyan bais hamikdash.
    Once in the Brikser mindset, one can also say that zman gerama is only a ptur from a chovas hagavra, but binyan hamikdash is a chiyuv on the cheftza shek mikdash to be built. You need a test case to see if this chiluk is true (maybe milah?)

  3. i would go back to the basics- what exactly is the machlokes rashi and the rtambam regarding MASG- and i think that will give you your answer to the rambam

  4. i hope you understood what i was referring to- the famous turei even in chagiga ( i think 16b) about MASG being a "zman m'suyam). another possible answer can be found in the Tos. Rid in kiddushin when Tos. famously asks why we need a pasuk to tell us women are patur from milah- it's a MASG, so the Tos Rid answers that although the actual ma'aseh of the mitzvah is done only by day, there is much to worry about before the actual mitzvah- and that can be done at night- same with the mishkan