Tuesday, September 09, 2008

minuy melech and binyan hamikdash

In a comment to the last post Anon1 referd to a statement by R' H. Shachter based on a Ramban in P' Korach that the requirement of the mitzvah of malchus is to establish a Jewish government, not necessarily a Jewish monarchy. I do not have this sefer of R' Shachter's to check the source, but my guess is that the Ramban in question is 16:22 (if not, this post can stand on its own.) The Ramban writes that Bnei Yisrael were guilty of delaying the building of Mikdash because they failed to seize the opportunity to start construction in the days of the shoftim. Instead, they waited until David HaMelech took the initiative. The Ramban's comment seems puzzling in light of Sanhedrin (20) which which presents the order of mitzvos Bnei Yisrael must perform upon entering Eretz Yisrael. The gemara writes that first the mitzvah of appointing a King must be fulfilled, and only afterwards can the mitzvah of building a Mikdash begin. If so, during the days of the shoftim, when no king had yet been appointed, there did not yet exist the possibility of starting construction on the Mikdash. How could BN"Y be accused of delay? QED, some (possibly R' Shachter) would argue, according to Ramban the shoftim were considered a fulfillment of the mitzvah of malchus by virtue of being a Jewish government.

It is possible (see Margoliyas haYam Sanhedrin 20:20) to salvage the Ramban without necessarily being forced to such a sweeping conclusion. Perhaps we can distinguish between the need for malchus as a prerequisite for binyan Mikdash, for which any form of Jewish government suffices, and the mitzvah of establishing a monarchy as an indepedendent goal in its own right, which might demand specifically the appointment of a king.


  1. Were the shofetim national leaders?

    I took it from the repeated references to "ein melekh beYisrael, ish hayashar be'einav ya'aseh" (particularly in megillas Rus, where it's that they were small pockets of leadership in what was otherwise chaos.

    IOW, did Yiftach lead Benei Yisrael, or was he a leader in the Yardein / Gil'ad / sheivet Menasheh area?

    OTOH, if shofetim were national leaders, what was the big deal of BY asking for Shaul and what was the whole need for Shemuel to hold a coronation? How was Shaul not simply the last shofeit?


  2. anon19:57 AM

    My recollection is that is the Ramban he was referring to in his piece. Interesting that elsewhere I saw an idea quoted from RYBS which seems to imply that the "melech" requirement of Sanhedrin 20 is more literal than not. RYBS notes a mechilta (I think) that states that Yehoshua had some type of minui as a melech before fighting Amalek because a melech is necessary for the mitzvah of hacrasas zaro shel amalek. Then again maybe that can be turned on its head and note that whatever minui there was of Yehoshua in parshas Beshalach it clearly was not a full fledged minui melech as Moshe Rabenu had a din of melech throughout and Yehoshua was subsequently appointed later. So perhaps that shows that melech for both the mitzvah of binyan mikdash and mechiyas amaleik. Again from memory so all of this is a little fuzzy. I will try to find the mechilta(?) later.

  3. I don't think a melech has to have national jurisdiction or even be the sole ruler - simple proof being that there existed two independent "kingdoms" of Yehudah and Yisrael for the greater part of Jewish history.

  4. Doron Beckerman10:15 AM

    I think the Chilluk is that there is a Reshus or a Kiyum Mitzvah to build the Mikdash upon sovereignty, and the sorry state of the Aron should have been the impetus for the people to have done so, but a Chiyuv to move on to Mechiyas Amalek and Binyan HaMikdash exists only upon Minui of a Melech Mamash. Otherwise it is not clear why the Ramban refers to the sorry state of the Aron and not to the Chiyuv of Binyan Beis HaBechirah. (So this Ramban is actually a proof AGAINST RHS' thesis that sovereignty counts as the Mitzvah of Minui Melech.)

    The Rambam in Melachim 1:2 seems to link Minui Melech Mamash to Mechiyas Amalek and Binyan HaBayis.