Monday, February 26, 2007

R' Moshe Shapiro on the mitzvah of building a Mishkan

The Rambam opens Hil. Beis HaBechira by describing the mitzvah to build a Mikdash “muchan l’heyos makrivim bo korbanos v’chogigim eilav shalosh p’amim bashana”, a place where korbanos can be offered and the shalosh regalim celebrated. According to the Rambam the idea of Mishkan cannot be separated from the idea of sacrificial offerings; the telos of Mishkan is avodah. The Ramban in the opening to Parshas Terumah defines the purpose of the Mishkan/Mikdash quite differently. Ramban highlights the parallels between Har and the Mishkan and defines both as places of G-d's revelation of Torah.

The 5T had the zechus of hosting R’ Moshe Shapiro this past Shabbos, and in one of his shiurim that I caught he drew a parallel between thisissue and the machlokes Ramban and Rambam whether tefilah is a mitzvah d’orysa or not. According to the Rambam, avodah, be it tefilah or be it korbanos, is an independent value which defined the Mikdash; according to Ramban, avodah is only as a means to kabbalas haTorah, but not an end in itself.

RMS drew a further parallel l’shitasam with respect to whether remembering ma’amad har Sinai counts as an independent mitzvah or not. According to Ramban, the Mishkan had to be made as a model of Har Sinai because that experience of Har Sinai is integral to kabbalas haTorah and had to be preserved; according the the Rambam, the Mishkan’s role was entirely separate from that of Torah study or Har Sinai.

The Midrash compares the command to build a Mishkan to a King who offered his only daughter to a suitor, but asked that the couple prepare a small room for him in their home as he could not beat to live completely apart from his daughter. The daughter is the Torah which was wedded to the Jewish people; the room is the Mishkan, for G-d’s presence to dwell with us. R’ Shapiro noted that he connection the Midrash draws between Mishkan and the giving of the Torah seems to support the view of the Ramban over that of the Rambam – tzarich iyun.


  1. Anonymous11:51 AM

    There is a man in Israel named Sabbato, who has written several semi-autobiographical works of fiction, including "Bo'i Haru'ach," and who is a rebbi in one of the Gush yeshivos. His first published work was a collection of drashos on chumash called "Ahavat Torah." It is not easy to find, being a strange hybrid between Sefardic lyricism and drush. In any case, his drasha on Tetzaveh focuses on this apparent difference between the Ramban and the Rambam, which he ultimately tries to reconcile. You- and your ishah chashuva- might enjoy his writing. It's not heavy duty, but it appeals to a sense usually not aroused when reading drush.

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