Monday, June 19, 2006

Construction of the menorah and the mitzvah of binyan hamikdash

The Midrash (cited by Rashi) says that Moshe had difficulty understanding the construction of the menorah; Hashem was forced to show him an image of a fiery menorah as a visual model. According to some views this was not enough to clarify matters, as we find a dispute as to exactly who made the menorah - Betzalel, Moshe himself, or it was ‘na’aseis m’eilav’, it made itself miraculously because Moshe could not figure out how to do it. On Shabbos the question was raised why the menorah was singled out to be made by Moshe himself and not by Betzalel, who was entrusted to make all the other kelim. I think the simple answer is that even if Moshe understood based on the image of the menorah how to make it, he could not communicate that idea to Betzalel the way he could verbally describe the other kelim. As to why this was true only by the menorah, I am sure you can relate some unique aspect or symbolic idea of the menorah to a unique quality of Moshe, but that is more along the lines of derush. I want to focus on one other point made by the MaHaRaL. Assuming Moshe could not figure out how to make the menorah even after seeing an image of it, what was the point of this communication? Ultimately the menorah was na’aseis m’eilav, so why did Hashem not cut to the chase and just do it for Moshe without providing an incomprehensible tzivuy? The Maharal answers that you have to say according to all opinions Moshe was involved in some way in the menorah’s construction – the issue is simply the extent of that involvement. Moshe had to toss the gold in and strike it with a hammer to form it, but it was na'asis m'eilav in the sense that the completed product was beautiful beyond the capability of its maker, indicating some miraculous force was at work. Maharal writes that one is forced to say Moshe did something, otherwise how was the mitzvah of making klei hamikdash fulfilled? I am not sure what the Maharal means by this argument. The Maharal seems to assume that there is an independent mitzvah of making kelim, yet neither the Rambam or the Ramban count such a mitzvah. Either the kelim are included as part of the mitzvah of binyan hamikdash, or are hechsherim to do avodah (see Ramban’s gloss to mitzvas aseh #34 is sefer hamitzvos), but are not independent commandments. If kelim are simply parts of the mikdash, as long as one does part of the mitzvah of building the mikdash, even if one did not do every task, the mitzvah of building the mikdash has been fulfilled. Certainly according to Rashi and Tos (R”H 17) who hold that the third bais hamikdash will descend from shamayim, one must say that the small human intervention done to complete the building is sufficient to fulfill the mitzvah of binyan habayis even if the majority of the building is completed miraculously (see Maharil Diskin).
According to the Maharal we understand that Moshe ultimately was involved in making the menorah and therefore needed to see the image to know what to do. However, what the Maharal does not explain is why Hashem first attempted to verbalize the instructions if they could not be comprehended even by Moshe. Hadra kushya l'duchta, why not just show Moshe the image to begin with? See Bnei Yisaschar in his chanukah discussion...


  1. Anonymous12:57 PM

    I always wondered how to work these midrashim with pshuto shel mikra in Parshas Vayakhel that Betzalel made the aron.

    As for the kiyum of binyan ha-mikdash with some small component, the Rosh Yeshivah of KBY, R' CY Goldvicht ztl often explained the tefila in musaf for th 3 regalim -- ve-harenu be-vinyano ve-samechenu be-sikuno -- that simcha is only achieved when it is a result of your own efforts (a yesod he developed at length). Thus since bayis shilishi will be miraculous Hashem will only show us (ve-harenu) its building, but any additions and fixes that we add will bring us simcha (ve-samechenu). Hence samchem be-vinyan shalem --- i.e. when we complete it, that will bring us simcha. I think it could relate/tie into the mitzvah and with the addition we can be mekayem the mitzvah of binyan ha-mikdash

  2. You have to say the menorah was unique. The vort on samcheinu b'tikkuno is brought in the name of the mahari"l diskin at the end of this week's parsha, but many other achronim as well raise the kashe of how there canbe a kiyum mitzva when the binyan will be b'yad Hashem.

  3. Anonymous3:51 PM

    I was unaware the mahril also said it -- I quoted it be-shem omro for me. Thanks for the mareh makom.

    What do you mean the menorah is unique? the pashut pshat in the pesukim is that Betzalel made the menorah -- it starts Vayas -- unless you say that that vayas refers to HKBH even though the others are Betzalel. There is the diyuk even in pshat in Parshas Terumah - mikshah teyaseh -- in the passive in the tzivui of the menorah but there is no parallel lashon on the asiyah in Vayakhel. That's what I dont understand.

  4. Sorry, I did not understand what you meant when I said the menorah was unique. Now I have it clear.

  5. Anonymous6:07 PM

    By the way,

    I think your blog is great for a number of reasons. Perhaps the #1 reason is that the stated reason for the blog was both (Torah) policy and Torah but it has become almost 100% Torah. (For a while I didn't even realize that your blog was initially about yeshiva eduction and issues with it. I thought it was 100% Torah. Only when I went back to the archives did I see that). Many other blogs that start as dual Torah and policy wind up leaning towards the policy side. Not that I am mean to be critical of the policy side of blogs -- they are important blogs and discuss important issues, in explaining issues from a Torah perspective -- but I think the blogvelt can use a good 100% Torah blog. Y'Shkoyach!

  6. Anonymous6:40 PM

    Funny Question somone asked me not sure if he was serious or not THE PSAK "AD SHEYUVAH ELIYAHU" how is it possible he is an "aid echad" plus he added "torah lav bashmayim hi"

  7. Anon1,
    I am glad you enjoy. I do try not to lose focus so that the rov is torah and the miyut is 'policy', depending on my mood and how much time there is. I did originally intend to put more effort into posting on chinuch issues, but somehow never get to return much to that topic.

    Sounds like a chassidishe kashe, but now you have me interested. Do you have an answer?

  8. Anonymous12:44 AM

    As to the question in your last paragraph, about why Moshe received a verbal communication in the first place, I would suggest Moshe received a sort of dual revelation: the words needed to communicate with Betzalel, and the image of the menorah itself. L'havdil--I get this sort of puzzle many times a day, when I'm trying to translate the words I hear into the images with which I think, or (in the reverse direction) try to translate the images in my head into words that other people will understand--and generally end up looking like a blithering idiot who has to ask his interlocutor to please repeat what was just said. THE WORDS CAN BE MERELY JUMBLES OF SOUND (if oral) OR MEANINGLESS JUMBLES OF SYMBOLS (if written, printed, etc.) WITH NO CORRELATION TO ANY MENTAL IDEA. Hence Moshe was given a dual revelation: the (meaningless to him) words which he could relay to Betzalel, and the visual image which he could use to guide himself in achieving the finished product.

  9. Anonymous10:43 AM

    As far as "Birur Eliyahu" is concerned, the Maharitz Chiyus has an entire chapter devoted to the issue. See Kol Kisvei Maharitz Chiyus, Vol. 1, Chapter 2.

  10. Bill, you can have ta'anos on me that I don't have the new edition of the minchas chinuch, but I can't hear a ta'ana for not owning a kitvei maharit"z chiyus: ) Can you summarize?

  11. Anonymous11:55 PM

    Bottom line:

    Eliyahu will only be mivarer a safeik in mitzius (precisely because "lo bashamayim hi". He doesn't deal with the "aid echad" question).

  12. Anonymous11:45 AM

    Very nice site! » » »