Thursday, August 29, 2019

makom asher yivchar Hashem -- a player to be named later?

"Lo ta'asun kein l'Hashem Elokeichem" (12:4)  What is the "kein" that we are not supposed to do in our avodas Hashem?  The previous pesukim told us to destroy the altars, the asheirot, the matzeivot from all the many places where idolaters worshipped.   Tzror haMor explains that it is the multiplicity of places and types of worship that the Torah is warning against.  For us, there is one place.  We are one nation, united in one type of avodah directed to one Beis haMikdash.

Speaking of the Beis haMikdash, interestingly it is never mentioned in the parsha.  Instead, the parsha refers to " im el ha'makom asher yivchar Hashem Elokeichem m'kol shivteichem," the place that Hashem chose from among the shevatim.  (12:5)  Again, a few pesukim later, "V'haya ha'makom asher yivchar Hashem..." (12:11)  And again, "Ki im ba'makom asher yivchar Hashem b'achad shevatecha..." (12:14)  There was a mesorah from the days of the Avos as to where the Beis haMikdash would be; Moshe Rabeinu surely knew where it would stand.  Why then not name the place?  Why couch it in terms of a place to be chosen (like saying a player to be named later), as if there was some mystery, some doubt as to where exactly that would be?

I saw in R' Reisman's discussion on the parsha he raises this question and offers an answer and refers to the Kli Yakar who asks it as well. I don't know if R' Reisman has a taste for chassidishe seforim, but the same question is asked by the Tiferes Shlomo as well, and it's his answer that I will leave you with.  Rashi already points out that in 12:5 the Torah refers to the Mikdash coming "m'kol shevatecha," from all the shevatim, but in 12:14 the Torah tells us "b'achad shevatecha," that the Mikdrash was built on the land of only one sheivet.   The Tiferes Shlomo answers that geographically, the land of the Mikdash may have belonged to one sheivet; however, it was the desire for a Mikdash on the part of the all the shevatim that brought it into being -- the "mem" in "m'kol shevatecha" is being used in the sense of "because of."  "Kol zman she'lo hayu ha'retzonos v'hatefilos b'shleimus al binyan Beis haMikdash," writes the Tiferes Shlomo, "Lo haya klal ba'olam ha'makom shel Beis haMikdash."  The Har HaBayis is just a mountain, just a point on a map.  What makes it the makom Mikdash is our desire to have a Mikdash there.  When Moshe Rabeinu was addressing the Jewish people, that desire had not yet come to fruition -- it was still just a place that Hashem will choose, but not yet in existence.  It took all the years of Yehoshua, of the Shoftim, of Shaul, until David haMelech finally brought that desire for a Mikdash to its culmination and the place became a reality. 

In our time yet again, Hashem awaits our tefilos for a Mikdash.  When we arouse that desire though our derishat Tzion, then instead of a point on the map, instead of a mountain with a golden dome travesty on it, we will once again have a makom Mikdash.


  1. on his third day of travel, Avraham identified har Moriah, not by a given name, but by a cloud attached to the mount (Bereishis Rabbah, 56:1*). Eliyahu's gofer spotted that same cloud** far out to sea (Melachim I, 18:44), as a portent of rain. when Am Yisrael desire that His Name rest in place again as much as dor Eliyahu desired rain, then "we will once again have a makom Mikdash".

    *in the same midrash, Yosef on day three confronts the tribes regarding Binyamin ("b'achad shevatecha")

    **at long distance, the size of a man's palm-- 'this rain will be a handout from Me, yes, despite My people's worship of the Ba'al, but they must henceforth use their thumbs [fingers] and get a grip on their desires!'

  2. Thank you, great teretz. It was Binyomin's powerful yearning that invested the place with kedusha, not just that it was the reason he got that portion.
    I believe the same is true for all of Eretz Yisroel. The personality of the shevet that got a portion gave that area a specific character. That's why it was so important that the initial occupation be purely that Shevet, but afterwards they could intermarry.

  3. "Hashem awaits our tefilos for a Mikdash"

    can one put his money where his mouth is, through fulfilling a vow(?) that whenever he partakes of meat with soulful desire, he shall give a gift* of breast and thigh to a local kohen, and by this say, 'yes, the place Hashem chooses to put His Name there is distant from me (12:21), distant to the point of absence, yet I want to find it near, to find it present, and so will offer portions of a 'korban shlamim' (first Rashi, 12:21) whenever I desire meat b'chol-avas naf'sh'cha (12:20). may Hashem too 'eat' meat, by His proxy the kohanim, slaughtered in the azarah of my desire, then slaughtered in the azarah that is real'?

    *obviously not metaphysically equivalent to the right of the kohen to the breast and thigh, in Temple terms

  4. Didn't you once post ap that לשכנו תדרשו means that Hashem davka wants us to put in effort to decide where the best place is?