Thursday, February 07, 2019

bri'ach ha'tichon of chessed.

1) The Rambam writes in Hil Beis HaBechira (1:12):

והכל חייבין לבנות ולסעד בעצמן ובממונם אנשים ונשים כמקדש המדבר.

"Everyone has to participate in the mitzvah of building a mikdash, both men and women, just like all participated in building the Mishkan in the desert."

Why does the Rambam add that last phrase?  Why can't he just say that men and women must participate -- why add the comparison to the Mishkan?


2) According to Chazal the "bri'ach ha'tichon," the central beam that went through the middle of all the boards of the Mishkan, miraculously curved itself around the entire structure.  Where did this special beam come from?  Targum Yonasan (26:28) writes that it came from the tree planted by Avraham, "Va'yita eisehel b'Be'eir Sheva," to provide shade and a place to rest for his guests.  When Klal Yisrael left Egypt the angels came and cut down that tree, threw it into Yam Suf, and from there it was retrieved by Bnei Yisrael.

Why did the angels bring davka that tree?  Was there no closer place to get wood from?  R' Yaakov Kaminetzki has a wonderful insight regarding the "atzei shitim," which Chazal tell us were planted by Yaakov Avinu (see my son's post here).  The gemara (Yoma 72) writes that the word "omdim" used to describe these boards means they are eternal.  R' Yaakov points out that the word "omdim" is part of the tzivuy, the command of how to build the Mishkan.  It's not a bracha -- it's something we have to make happen.  So where do you get wood that will last for an eternity?  The answer is you get wood that Avraham used for hachnasas orchim; you get wood that Yaakov invested his kochos in to prepare for the future and give his children bitachon that they would one day get out of galus and have a Mishkan.  That's wood saturated with kedusha that will therefore be with us forever. 

The world stands on three things: Torah, avodah, and chessed.  Which of these values would you most associate with the Mishkan?  The  obvious choice is avodah = offering korbanos.  The slightly less obvious choice is Torah.  Ramban writes that the revelation of Shechina in the Mishkan parallels the revelation of Shechina at Har Sinai.  The aron containing the luchos was the focal point of the Mishkan.  Yet we see from the Targum Yonasan that the ingredient of chessed must be there as well.   Only the wood that served as a vehicle for Avraham's welcoming of guests could serve to connect and hold that walls together.

My wife added that the Mishkan is a microcosm of the world.  "Olam chessed yibaneh" - the world is built on chessed.  The Mishkan follows suit.

The keruvin that stood atop the aron stood "pneihem ish el achiv" -- facing each other.  R' Shternbruch suggests that the Torah is telling us that the key to being able to enter the kodesh kodashim, to be able to come close to the aron, to Torah, is to always look toward your fellow Jew -- to be aware of the needs and plight of your fellow man.  Chessed is at the heart of the Mishkan.

What is true of the "house" of Hashem should be equally true of our own homes.  Hashra'as haShechina requires avodah, requires Torah, but without chessed, it will all fall apart.


  1. 1) "the comparison [back] to the Mishkan" introduces a rearward trajectory into our thinking: Shemos 12:35, the "men and women" (bnei Yisrael) request [what will become Mishkan] items >> 3:22, women shall request... >> Sarah 'requests' of Hagar the Mitzrese to build* her up >> the first woman's failure to request of the nachash** that it honor Hashem-Elokim [with an offering of the {uneaten***} fruit of the eitz ha'da'as!] ****

    *i'baneh, 16:2 -- yibaneh ha'Mikdash (and who occupies har ha'Bayit hayom? none other than Yishmael!)

    ** = gematria 'mashiach', whom Rambam says will build the third Mikdash


    ****just as all interpretations of the oral law were included in the words of Moshe, so all interpretations of Moshe ben Maimon are included in his words! (?)

  2. 2) "to connect and hold...walls together"

    which is to say that this use of the eshel is NOT a pure expression of Avraham's chessed, but a warping* of chessed into Akeidat Mishkan...

    *uprooting an all-inclusive ('Pagans Welcome') shade-tree to strap tight a semi-exclusive layout

    {btw, this wraparound tree seems a sort of teretz for the difference of opinion between Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Nehemya, Sotah 10a}

  3. "Why does the Rambam add that last phrase? Why can't he just say that men and women must participate -- why add the comparison to the Mishkan?"

    For the Rambam, there is one continuous chiyyuv to build the Mishkan and then the Batei Mikdash, as he says in the beginning of Perek 1. The possuk of "V'asu li Mishkan" is the same obligation to build the Miskkan in the desert, to build the Miskhkan at Shilo (and the other in between places) and ultimately the Beis ha Mikdash in Yerushalayim. This explains the history lesson the Rambam gives in 1:1-4. It also explains why in 1:5 he gives the basic structure of the Mikdash and compares it to the Mishkan.

    As the meforshim in 1:12 explain, the Rambam learned the obligation on men and women from the pesukim about the Mishkan. So the Rambam is saying that just as the obligation in the Midbar was for men and women, so too that is the case ledoros. (For that matter, in 1:12, the Rambam learns from the Mishkan that the Beis ha Mikdash is only built during the day.)

    See also the Rambam Minyan ha Mitzvos 20:

    (לבנות בית הבחירה, שנאמר "ועשו לי, מקדש" (שמות כה,ח.