Monday, March 30, 2009

the relationship between Mishkan and korbanos (I)

There are two ways in which the relationship between Mishkan and korbanos can be understood: 1) the Mishkan exists so that there is a special designated place in which to offer korbanos -- korbanos are ikar and Mishkan is tafeil; 2) korbanos are instrumental to the Mishkan -- Mishkan is ikar and korbanos tafeil.

The formulation of the Rambam at the opening of Hil. Beis haBechira:

מצות עשה לעשות בית לה', מוכן להיות מקריבים בו הקרבנות, וחוגגין אליו שלוש פעמים בשנה

suggests that the Mishkan is merely instrumental to the offering of korbanos.

Yet, the Ramban has a striking line in his intro. to sefer VaYikra that suggests just the opposite:

כי כאשר היה ספר אחד בענין הגלות והגאולה ממנו, והשלימו בענין אהל מועד וכבוד השם אשר מלא את המשכן, צוהו בקרבנות ובשמירת המשכן, שיהו הקרבנות כפרה להן ולא יגרמו העונות לסלק השכינה

The Mishkan serves as the place in which the Shechina dwells and korbanos are merely instrumental in bringing about kapparah to ensure that Hashem's presence does not depart because of our sins.

I would like to suggest two nafka minos in halachic contexts to this philosophical debate... stay tuned.


  1. Barzilai10:37 PM

    Are you going to talk about being makriv as long as you have a mizbei'ach, even without a bayis? Because it could be that the Ramban only means that the reason the korbanos were brought in the bayis and not elsewhere is because they ensure Hashra'as hashechina. But korbanos are certainly independently important.

  2. >> There are two ways in which the relationship between Mishkan and korbanos can be understood <<

    Why can't they each be significant on their own and the important part be the interface of the two?

  3. I'm not sure the Rambam's comment is as clear-cut as you make it seem. Yes, if all he had said was מצות עשה לעשות בית לה', מוכן להיות מקריבים בו הקרבנות, you could argue that the purpose of the Mishkan is to facilitate the bringing of the Korbanos. But Rambam did not stop there. The fact that he added וחוגגין אליו שלוש פעמים בשנה seems to indicate that the Mishkan has a purpose beyond merely facilitating the Korbanos.

    Indeed, given the grammar of the sentence - the clause about the korbanos is the intermediate clause - it could be argued that the Rambam views the facilitation of korbanos as the minor aspect of the Mishkan's purpose, and that it's primary purpose is to be a Bayis for Hashem, to which we can be Choggiggin Eylav Shalosh Pa'amim Bashana.

  4. Barzilai, you read my mind.

    YD, I don't mean to suggest either is not important. What I mean to suggest is that Rambam/Ramban see one as an instrumental good and one as an end in itself -- the machlokes is which is which.

    Akiva - good point, and I plan to touch on the very topic of aliya la'regel. I should mention that a few weeks ago my rebbe from KBY, R' Blachman, was in my neighborhood for shabbos and in one of his addresses mentioned this Rambam in passing and was also not convinced of the spin I put on it. However, you do find such a reading in Achronim.

  5. Well, I'm always happy to be in good company :)

  6. Nice point. What you present as the Ramban's position is borne out by the fact that the Qorban Tamid is mentioned at the end of Parashat Tetzaveh, implying that it is a means to sustaining the very manifestation of shekhinah in the Mishkan.