Tuesday, July 22, 2014

beis hhabechira / beis hamikdash / bayis l'Hashem -- why three terms for the same thing?

The Emergency Committee for Israel put out a statement in response to Obama’s call for a cease fire yesterday that has a gem of a line in there: “Israel does not need a mediator.  Israel needs an ally.”  So true.  

When I read that the US will give close to 50 million to Hamas for “humanitarian aid” even as they continue to fire rockets at Israel, I wonder: are Obama and Kerry really that naïve as to believe that this money will not be used for weapons, are they incompetent, or is it a calculated and deliberate attempt to once again undermine Israel’s interests?  (I ask myself that question about a lot of the things this administration does.)

I mentioned the Shmira Project yesterday, but there are many other things you can do to help Israel in this time of crisis.  I see A Mother In Israel has a helpful post with 21 suggestions.

A few weeks ago, before the latest round of fighting started, my wife and I visited the NY Historical Society (a small, overlooked museum that is really worth a visit if you’ve never been there) where there is a new exhibit celebrating the centennial of the JDC, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.  You probably know the JDC helped in the relief efforts after WWII, but the organization is far older than that and it still exists, doing important work around the globe. Anyway, a telegram displayed in the exhibit caught my wife’s eye.  This message was sent from someone in Germany in 1933 to the JDC in NY, and it said (I’m sorry we did not copy it word for word) that the situation was not salvageable – instead of relief for those inside Germany, all efforts should be focused on getting as many people out as possible.  My wife could not believe that already in 1933 there was such certainty of impending doom.  Her own father’s family did not leave Germany until a few years after that.  I told her it’s no surprise.  20 or 30 years from now G-d forbid people will look back at the articles in the news that we read almost daily about the situation of Jewry in France and other European countries, the articles we dismiss as alarmist, as right-wing extremism, the calls to get out that people have begun to act on in small measure while others delay, thinking there will always be time to run when things get really bad, and we will wonder why more was not done sooner, why so many failed to act when the anti-Semitisim was so clear, when the barely repressed violence was already evident.  Of course I hope and pray that things don't come to that...

Maybe someone from CAIR can help me here, but I am just wondering how many mosques have been firebombed by Jews in response to events in the Middle East, or how many Moslems had to call the police to protect them from riots?  Just curious.

Let me end off with some Torah.  The first set of halachos the Rambam covers in his Sefer haAvodah is titled “Hilchos Beis haBechira.”  The Rambam lists the mitzvos covered in that section, first of which is “livnos beis hamikdash.”  The first halacha starts off, “Mitzvas aseh la’asos bayis l’Hashem…”  I don’t know what to make of it (if anything), but within just a few lines the Rambam introduces three completely different terms for the same thing: 1) beis habechira, 2) beis hamikdash, 3) bayis l’Hashem.  Now, true he uses the term “beis habechira” in Sefer haMitzvos, which is the groundwork upon which Mishneh Torah is built, but if consistency is the goal, then why not continue to use that term?  Why use it only in the header for the halachos and then change to something else?  And while we are being nitpicky, what do you make (if anything) of the switch in verbs from “livnos beis hamikdash” to “la’asos bayis l’Hashem?” 


  1. Anonymous11:48 AM

    The Rav thought that there are two separate mitzvos - one to build a mikdash, and one to build the beis habechira, with beis habechira meaning the bechira olamis and ain achareha heter. (See kovetz chiddushei torah and also shiurei harav sanhedrin 20b) That's why in hil. beis habechira, he refers to the bayis lahashem and he uses the pasuk of veasu li mikdash (which was said on the mishkan) - because there he's referring to the general mitzva of binyan hamikdash (which the mishkan also fulfilled.) But in hil. melachim, where he talks about the 3 mitzvos nitztavu bechnisasan laaretz, he uses the lashon of livnos "beis habechira" and the pasuk of leshichno sidreshu, because the building of "beis habechira" had to be done davka in EY, after amalek etc.

    Rabbi Genack added that that's why in the hagada we say "ilu hichnisanu leeretz yisrael velo bana es beis habechira" - because the beis habechira has to be davka in EY, even though there was a kiyum of binyan hamikdash by the mishkan already, but beis habechira had to be in EY.

    I'm still not sure why the Rambam would put the mitzva of binyan beis habechira in hil. melachim and not in hil. beis habechira

    1. So while the KS"M learns that the Rambam disagrees with the SM"G who says the mitzvah of building a beis hebchira applied only after David finished the conquest of EY, the Rav is saying that the Rambam doesn't disagree, it's that there are 2 dinim, one of binyan mikdash, one of binyan beis habechira.

      Any idea on the difference between livnos vs la'asos?

      This two dinim sevara may help with a different Rambam. The gemara learns that the building of mikdash was only done during the day based on a pasuk in Ezra, yet the Rambam paskens that it is not a zman gerama mitzvah. Maybe its only the mitzvah of building *beis hebechira* which is time delimited, but not the mitzvah of *asu li mikdash*. This would explain that diyuk halashon of the Rambam (1:12) that "hakol chayavim livnos... k'mikdash hamidbar." Why does he add those words at the end? Because it's the chiyuv of binyan mikdash, like in the midbar, which applies to women, but not the chiyuv of binyan beis habechira.

    2. Anonymous2:39 PM

      I was loving this chiluk, and the diyuk of kemikdash hamidbar - but the Rambam there in 1:12 has a drasha from a pasuk in bamidbar - "beyom hakim es hamishkan" that it only applies bayom, from the mishkan itself.

      As far as livnos vs. laasos, pashtus when he uses laasos, he's just echoing the lashon of the pasuk of veasu li mikdash, but I'm not sure what the difference is between livnos and laasos. I might suggest that the difference is that the mishkan and shiloh were not permanent structures (they had no tikra - rambam BHB 1:2), as Dovid Hamelech said aron hashem is besoch hayeria. Maybe for the mitzva of veasu li mikdash, you don't need a binyan (an ohel is enough) but the beis habcehira must be a binyan (with a tikra). (It happened that they built a binyan in Shiloh, but maybe it wasn't necessary.) Just a suggestion.