Wednesday, March 05, 2008

the mizbeiach built on Yom Tov

Rashi in P’ VaYakhel writes that the pasuk “sheishes yamim ta’aseh melacha” teaches that the Mishkan can only be built during the 6 weekdays but not on Shabbos. Rashi’s interpretation is based on the Mechilta, which learns from this pasuk that even fixing the broken corner of a mizbeiach is prohibited on Shabbos.

According to most opinions of Tanaim (see Shabbos 87) the Torah was given on Shabbos, the 51st day after Pesach. The MG”A famously asks why we refer to the holiday of Shavuos, which we celebrate on the 50th day of the sefira count, as “zman mattan Toraseinu”, when the Torah was actually not given until the day after the holiday of Shavuos. You have until Shavuos to work out a good answer to that one, but for now, I want to focus on a different point. After working through the calculations of the dates, the Minchas Chinuch (#309) notes that Moshe was commanded to build a mizbeiach on the day before mattan Torah. If mattan Torah was on day 51 of sefira, the mizbeiach would have been built on day 50, which was the Yom Tov of Shavuos. How could Moshe violate the issur of building a mizbeiach on Yom Tov? True, the Torah had not yet been given, but Moshe, like the Avos, would certainly have observed halacha even before the formal mattan Torah.

The Minchas Yitzchak (Kuntres Divrei Cheifetz, end of vol 3) offers two answers: 1) the mizbeiach was not a permanent structure and therefore did not violate the d’oraysa prohibition of binyan; 2) two people worked on building the mizbeiach and each was “aino yachol” and therefore not in violation of a d’oraysa.

These answers each have debatable points, but I’ll leave that for another time. One final question worth thinking about: why is a limud necessary to teach us that building a Mishkan cannot be done on Shabbos? We know that a mitzvas aseh cannot be doche a lav + aseh, so why would we think that the Mishkan could be built on Shabbos? The Minchas Yitzchak has a beautiful pilpul to answer this question. I may try to post it later, but if I don’t get to it, it is worth the effort to look up.


  1. I saw some achronim ask that women only have a lav of Shabbos not an aseh. For them it would be aseh doche lo saseh. Maybe the posuk is l'afukei women.

  2. Bingo! - you are on the right track, but he spins a much more elaborate web (BTW, I assume in your comment you mean Y"T and not shabbos)

  3. anon14:47 PM

    Chaim M.,

    even if women only had the lav and not the aseh, it would be a lav with kareis and we pasken that an aseh is not usually docheh a lav with kareis -- even if there is no other aseh with it. But if as Chaim B suggests you meant YT, then you are right that aseh doche lo taaseh should apply. THough the premise that women do not have the asey of YT is not pashut or muskam. Also even though the gemara in shevuos says ein binyan beis hamikdash docheh YT, the limud is from shabbos itself -- if so, why would we need a limud from shabbos given that aseh docheh lo taaseh? Unless we say something like im eino le-inyan etc.

    Dont the achronim discuss this and suggest that one would have thought that given that the avodah is docheh shabbos that building the beis hamikdash would also be docheh? I remember hearing that -- though I recognize the weakness in those points from a lomdus perspective, given that we usually assume that one needs "be'idna" with aseh docheh lo taaseh.

  4. You're right. I meant Yom Tov.