Friday, February 27, 2009

the purpose of building Mikdash

We once upon a time discussed the different views of the Rambam and the Ramban with respect to the mitzvah of building a mishkan. The Rambam opens his Hilchos Beis haBechira by describing the mitzvah of building a "bayis laHashem" which is "muchan l'hakriv bo korbanos", a place designated for sacrificial offerings. The Mishkan and Mikdash have a clear and defined purpose. The Ramban, however, defines Mikdash/Mishkan as a model of the Har Sinai experience, a place where the Shechina is revealed; it would seem korbanos are secondary to that purpose or just a means to elicit a hashra'as haShechina.

Parethetically, last Shabbos the 5T had the privilege of hosting my rebbe, R' Blachman of KBY, and he mentioned this Rambam while speaking on Friday night. R' Blachman seemed dismissive of the idea that the Mikdash's purpose is korbanos -- korbanos are what are done in the Mikdash, but they are not the Mikdash itself. The Mikdash itself is defined by the Rambam's words "bayis laHashem", which R' Blachman suggested (based on a Tosefta in Zevachim) is means the place of the aron. I did not get to ask, but I am not sure how this reading makes sense of the additional words "muchan l'hakriv korbanos" -- why introduce what is done in Mikdash here if it is not a definition? Leave that for Hilchos Ma'aseh Korbanos, etc.

Perhaps there is another element of meaning to these words "muchan l'hakriv bo korbanos". Rashi explains "v'yikchu li Teruma" to mean that the mitzvah must be done lishma, strictly for the sake of Heaven and for some other personal agenda. The Rambam therefore perhaps stresses the purpose of Mikdash in the opening to these halachos in order to emphasize that it is this purpose alone which must guide our intent in building a Mikdash (I am not familiar offhand with another place in Hil Beis haBechira where the Rambam codifies this rule of lishma).

9 comments:

  1. Chaim,

    I have thought the Rambam recognizes both themes in the mikdash. In the beginning of beis habechirah he emphasizes the korbanos -- as you suggested from the lashon of makom muchan le-korbanos and in that context the Rambam quotes the pasuk in this week's parsha of veasu li mikdash as the makor of the din. Others have then pointed out the arichus in the beginning of perek 2 of beis habechirah - -as soon as the rambam finishes the discussion of the general laws of the mikdash the first detail is the mizbeach, definitely indicating its primacy.

    א המזבח, מקומו מכוון ביותר; ואין משנין אותו ממקומו לעולם, שנאמר "וזה מזבח לעולה, לישראל" (דברי הימים א כב,א). ובמקדש נעקד יצחק אבינו, שנאמר "ולך לך, אל ארץ המורייה" (בראשית כב,ב) ונאמר "וייבן שלמה את הבית, בהר המורייה" (ראה מלכים א ו,יד; דברי הימים ב ג,א). [ב] ומסורת ביד הכול, שהמקום שבנה בו דויד ושלמה המזבח בגורן ארוונה--הוא המקום שבנה בו אברהם המזבח ועקד עליו יצחק, והוא המקום שבנה בו נוח כשיצא מן התיבה, והוא המזבח שהקריב עליו קין והבל. ובו הקריב אדם הראשון כשנברא קרבן, ומשם נברא; אמרו חכמים, אדם ממקום כפרתו נברא.

    All this supports your original thesis. However, in the beginning of hilchos melachim, where the rambam again records the mitzvah of binyan hamikdash (in the context of the mitzvos shenitztaveh yisrael bekenisanan laaretz) the Rambam quotes a very different pasuk.

    א שלוש מצוות נצטוו ישראל בשעת כניסתן לארץ--למנות להם מלך שנאמר "שום תשים עליך מלך" (דברים יז,טו), ולהכרית זרעו של עמלק שנאמר "תמחה את זכר עמלק" (דברים כה,יט), ולבנות להם בית הבחירה שנאמר "לשכנו תדרשו, ובאת שמה" (דברים יב,ה).

    There, the emphasis is on the hashra'as hashechinah (which derch agav explains the thematic connection between the mikdash and amaleik -- ki yad al kes Kah -- that hashra'as hashechinah is tied to mechiyas amaleik veacm"l). That sounds a lot more like the Ramban. More to say but enough for now

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  2. I hear what you want to say, but you need more to convince me then the fact that he quotes the pasuk of "l'shichno tidrishu". I would say that the korbanos (I tried to say this in the post) are the means of hashra'as haShechina and are what make mikdash into a makom Shechina -- they are not just things "done in the Mikdash" as R' Blachman put it. Of course, this is not really a fair because R' Blachman was giving a Friday night talk in a local shul and not a full shiur, so I give him the benefit of the doubt that there is more to be said for the approach of Beis HaMikdash as independent of korbanos. Nonetheless, I still think the connection with korbanos in the Rambam (and not Ramban) is inescapabale.

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  3. anon12:20 PM

    Your points are fair -- but this is a small portion of a much larger mehalech developed in understanding the hagdarah of shechutei chutz and haalas chutz --whether to avoid AZ (the mashmaus of the Torah in parshas acharei mos where shchutei chutz and haalas chutz are introduced) or to have a makom for hashra'as hashechinah (the implication of parshas Re'aih where the issur of haalas chutz appears). If I had the time or the right format, I would write it up and send it to you. maybe for another time

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  4. Deborah Shaya5:27 PM

    1. There should be NO IMAGES whatsoever, inside any synagogue.

    There should be NO IMAGES of
    • ANY PERSON, or
    • ANY ANIMAL or
    • ANY OBJECT
    inside any synagogue.

    Any images of a person, animal or object should be REMOVED immediately, and ENTIRELY out of the synagogue or shteibl. No matter how large or small they may be. This is against the Halachah.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Deborah Shaya5:28 PM

    (a) Images of a Person – inside a synagogue:

    Examples:
    • Portraits of a person;
    • Photographs of a person;
    • Drawings of a person;
    • A Calendar containing many images might be attached to the wall;
    • The cloth marker for the Sefer Torah may contain an image of a person or an object e.g. the sun with human features.
    • The Notice Board inside the synagogue/the room used for the minyan: this should be checked carefully for images of ANY PERSON, no matter how small, including tiny clip art images.

    There should be NO IMAGE of ANY PERSON whatsoever, inside ANY synagogue, especially in the area where people pray.

    Every IMAGE OF a PERSON should be REMOVED immediately from the synagogue or shteibel, as this is against the Halachah.

    • This applies in particular to the Ladies’ section, where there may be pictures of a rabbi, rebbe, or tzaddikim.

    • The Notice Board inside the synagogue/the room used for the minyan:
    A tiny clip-art image may have been used at the end of a notice or advert on the Noticeboard e.g. a small dotted image of a stick man.

    • Similarly, if a house is being used for a minyan, all images of people should be removed from the room being used for the tefillot.

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  6. Deborah Shaya5:29 PM

    (b) Images of an Animal – inside a synagogue:

    Examples:
    • 2 GOLD LIONS clutching the 10 Commandments (graven image);
    • 2 LIONS on the PAROCHET;
    • 2 LIONS on the COVER of the SEFER TORAH;
    • The cloth marker for the Sefer Torah may contain an image of a person or an animal or an object e.g. the sun with human features.
    • A Calendar containing many images might be attached to the wall.

    The Notice Board inside the synagogue/the room used for the minyan: this should be checked carefully for images of ANY animals, no matter how small, including tiny clip art images.

    Examples:
    • Photographs or drawings of animals may appear on such a Noticeboard
    • A tiny clip-art image may have been used at the end of a notice or advert on the Noticeboard e.g. a tiny cat etc.

    There should be NO IMAGE of ANY ANIMAL whatsoever, inside ANY synagogue, especially in the area where people pray.

    Every IMAGE OF an ANIMAL should be REMOVED immediately from the synagogue or shtiebl, as this is against the Halachah.

    Similarly, if a house is being used for a minyan, all images of animals should be removed from the room being used for the tefillot.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Deborah Shaya5:30 PM

    (c) Images of an Object – inside a synagogue:

    Examples:
    • The cloth marker for the Sefer Torah may contain an image of a person or an object e.g. the sun with human features.
    • Images around the Aron Hakodesh on stained glass e.g. a jug and oil; corn and barley stalks. This is totally assur, and should be removed.
    • Painting of a girl lighting Shabbat candles in the Ladies’ section (e.g. in a Chabad House/Lubavitch synagogue);
    • Photographs of apples in the Ladies’ section;
    • Drawings/paintings of a depiction of the Bet HaMikdash;
    • Drawings/paintings of a tree and leaves inside the Ladies’ section;
    • A Calendar containing many images might be attached to the wall;
    • The Notice Board inside the synagogue/the room used for the minyan – this should be checked carefully for images of ANY objects, no matter how small, including tiny clip art images e.g. a tiny clip art image of a pram.

    There should be NO IMAGE of ANY OBJECT whatsoever, inside ANY synagogue, especially in the area where people pray.

    Every IMAGE OF an OBJECT should be REMOVED immediately from the synagogue or shtiebel, as this is against the Halachah.

    Similarly, if a house is being used for a minyan, all images of objects should be removed from the room being used for the tefillot.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Deborah Shaya5:32 PM

    2. Hashem, our G-d, is a very “JEALOUS G-D” who demands “EXCLUSIVE WORSHIP.”

    Hashem has clearly told us in the Second Commandment:

    ‘Lo ta’aseh lecha PESEL, vechol temunah asher bashamayim, mima’al va’asher ba’aretz, mitachat va’asher ba’mayim, mitachat la’aretz.
    Lo tishtachaveh lahem, ve’lo ta’avdem, KI ANI HASHEM ELOKECHA, KEL KANAH, poked avon avot al banim, al shileshim, ve’al ribe’im, le’sonay.
    Ve’osseh chessed la’alafim, le’ohavai, u’leshomrei mitzvotai.’ (Parsha of Yitro, Chapter 20, verses 3-6)

    ‘Do not represent (such gods) by any CARVED STATUE OR PICTURE of anything in the heaven above, or the earth below, or in the water below the land.
    Do not bow down to (such gods) or worship them. I am G-d your Lord, A JEALOUS G-D, who demands EXCLUSIVE WORSHIP.
    Where My enemies are concerned, I keep in mind the sin of the fathers for (their) descendants, to the third and fourth (generation).
    But for those who love Me and keep My commandments, I show love for thousands (of generations.)

    (a) Many synagogues contain actual carved statues of 2 GOLD/BRONZE LIONS clutching a depiction of the 10 Commandments.

    These GOLD/BRONZE LIONS should be REMOVED ENTIRELY and immediately from the synagogue. No matter how large or small they are.

    It is completely assur, (forbidden), and against the Halachah for such images to be inside any synagogue.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Deborah Shaya5:33 PM

    (b) Check the Parochet (cloth partition covering the Aron Hakodesh).

    In many synagogues it is common for the Parochet to be decorated with images of 2 Lions clutching the 10 Commandments.

    The Parochet should be REMOVED immediately from the synagogue, and away from the Sifrei Torah.

    It is completely assur, (forbidden), and against the Halachah for such images to be inside any synagogue.


    (c) Check the actual cover for the Sefer Torah.

    In many synagogues it is common for the cover to be decorated with images of 2 Lions clutching the 10 Commandments.

    The cover for the Sefer Torah should be REMOVED immediately from the synagogue, and away from the Sifrei Torah.

    It is completely assur, (forbidden), and against the Halachah for such images to be inside any synagogue.

    (d) Check the cloth used as a marker for the Sefer Torah.

    The cloth marker for the Sefer Torah may contain an image of a person or an object e.g. the sun with human features.

    The cloth cover for the Sefer Torah should be REMOVED immediately from the synagogue, and away from the Sifrei Torah.

    It is completely assur, (forbidden), and against the Halachah for such images to be inside any synagogue.

    3. When praying at home, a person should endeavour to pray in a room which does not contain any images or paintings of a person, animal or object.

    ReplyDelete