Monday, February 11, 2019

a mitzvah to believe in angels?

1) R' Bachyei says something extraordinary on last week's parsha.  He writes that the keruvim are there to remind us of the existence of angels, "because just as we are commanded to believe in G-d, which is the primary ikar of the ikkarim... so too we are commanded to believe in angels and this is the second ikar."  (25:18)

Since when does belief in angels rank up there with the ikkarei emunah?  

But that's what he says, so take it up with R' Bachyei.    

2) Why does the Torah include the command to put the lechem ha'panim on the shulchan (25:30) in the instructions of how to build a shulchan?  The Torah does not stick the command to light the menorah in the middle of the instructions of how to build a menorah, or stick the command to offer korbanos in the description of what the mizbeiyach looked like.  Why is the shulchan different?

My son did a post quoting sources to prove that putting lechem ha'panim on the shulchan is not just an independent mitzvah, but it part of how the mitzvah of building a shulchan.  A shulchan without lechem is not a shulchan.

(In a similar vein, the Da'as Zekeinim asks why in the list of items donated to the Mishkan recorded at the beginning of the parsha -- zahav, kesef, nechoshes, etc. -- the Torah singles out only three of those items and tells us what they were used for: shemen la'ma'or, besamim l'shem ha'mishcha u'l'ketores ha'samim.  He answers that when you construct a new house you want it to smell nice, you want it to be light and bright, you want everything to have a new house look.  The menorah, ketores, shem ha'mishcha are not being mentioned here in their role as as independent mitzvos, but rather they are being mentioned in their role as part of the mitzvah of binyan ha'mishkan.)

I saw R' Nevenzahl has a different suggestion.  The lechem ha'panim was usually placed (and the old lechem removed) on Shabbos.  The chanukas ha'mishkan took place on a Sunday.  Therefore, one might have thought that the shulchan should remain empty all week until the next Shabbos, kah mashma lan our pasuk that from day #1, from its inauguration, the shulchan should have lechem on it.


  1. Rabbeinu Bachaye, as his interpreters say, sometimes uses the word Ikkar not meaning it like the Rambam or the other rishonim. He just means important. He is quoting the Rambam in the Moreh, where he says
    כי הדעה במציאות המלאכים נספחת לדעה וכי בכך תתקיים הנבואה במציאות הי והתורה ולחזוק הדעה ביסוד הזה צוה יתעלה לעשות על הארון צורת שני מלאכים לבסס מציאות המלאכים בדעת ההמון שהיא השקפה אמתית שניה לדעה במציאות ה והוא המקור לנבואה ולתורה ומבטל עבודה זרה כמו שבארנו ואלו היתד צורה אחת כלומר צורת כרוב אחד היה בכך מקום הטעיה והיו מדמים כי הצורה הזו האלוה הנעבד כמו שהיו עושין עובדי עבודה זרה ושגם המלאך פרט יחיד ואז יביא הדבר לשניות מסויימות וכיון שנעשו שני כרובים עם האמירה בפירוש נתקיימה השרשת ה אלהינו ה אחד ההשקפה במציאות המלאכים ושהם רבים והבטחנו שלא יטעו בהם שהם אלוה כי האלוה אחד והוא ברא את הרבוי הזה
    which is a lot more parev than Rabbeinu Bachaye.

    1. More emphasis on the idea that different rishonim use the word "iqqarim" differently...

      In Seifer haIqqarim, R Y Albo uses "iqqar" to refer specifically to mandatory postulates. Beliefs that are mandatory but derive from those postulates are labeled "shoresh". And finally an "anaf" is a belief that Judaism asserts (and all are shown to be theorems of the iqqarim) but that there is no chiyuv to accept as true.

  2. The aron too is interrupted to tell you the luchos go inside (37:15, in the middle of 37:10-21). And a parallel explanation to the one your son proved would explain why they didn't make a new aron for Bayis Sheini -- there is no aron without luchos to put in it.

    However, there is a difference. It is possible that the kapores (and keruvim) is a different keli from the aron, and that the order of the pereq is aron, its purpose (to house the luchos), the kapores, its purpose (to cover the aron, and to be the point from which Hashem "Speaks").

    I also have a problem because there were two aronos -- the one in the Miqdash, and the one that went out to war. If an empty aron is pointless, what was in the 2nd aron?

    But the notion that this is why there was no empty aron in bayis sheini is given by numerous sources.

  3. 1) "the keruvim are there to remind us of the existence of angels"

    if Hashem chose to reify His words in stone, then why don't we have-- according to His Will --the reified words of malachim, inscribed* in gold, atop each end of the kaporet, rather than winged bodies? at one upraised end, 'kadosh kadosh...k'vodo'; at the other end, 'baruch k'vod...mi'm'komoh'? {not a matter to take up with R' Bachyei, evidently, but to take up with Him!}

    *engraved by B'tzal'el, or by [keruvim class] angels

    {design challenge #2 -- why not place the luchos atop a shtender zahav in the kodesh kodashim, rather than in an aron?}

  4. 2) "putting lechem ha'panim on the shulchan is...part of...building a shulchan"

    indeed the package deal concluded at 40:23, 'v'ya'aroch alav erech lechem', seems to be in answer to psalm 78:19's question, 'ha'yuchal K'eil la'aroch shulchan bamidbar?' -- Hashem replies clearly, 'the leavening in your question shall be met with unleavened bread; the common craving in your question, met with priestly chew'...

  5. Put aside the use of the word ikar -- let's say it means "very important thing."
    The point is that R' Bachyei sees belief in angels as so important as to nearly equate it with belief in G-d. Even if it's important, would you have off the cuff said it was that important?

    1. No, I would not have.
      Still, the idea is that there is some degree of separation, just as there are seven levels of shamayim, and working through a malach, I suppose, is just another way of saying that Hashem's will is enacted indirectly, just as our tefillos usually need a malach to transport them upwards.