Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Yirah / Shaleim -- two names for the same place

In Parshas Lech Lecha we read that Malkitzedek, the king of Shaleim, brought out food and wine for Avraham.  That same place of Shaleim would later be renamed Yireh by Avraham Avinu in the parsha of the akeidah.  Two names given to the same place by two great people -- which one would win out?  The Midrash (parsha 56) writes that Hashem made a comprimise.  He combined the two into one and thus we have the name Yeru-shalayim.

What difference does it really make what you call the place?  It's still the same city, the same place on the map?

Rav Kook explains that the two names reflect two different approaches to religious development.  One approach is the philosophical approach, coming to Hashem through contemplation.  The other approach is the approach of tikun ha'midos, fighting off the yetzer ha'ra and the influence of evil and in doing so coming to purity.  Malkitzedek is the "kohen l'K-l Elyon," the master of looking on high, contemplating G-d in the heavens.  Avraham, on the other hand, saw the need for yirah, for bringing things down to earth,  dealing with the world and all its temptations and imperfections and bringing G-dliness to it.

Yerushalayim is the meeting place of both worlds.  It is the place where the Beis haMikdrash in heaven stands exactly corresponding to the Beis haMikdash on earth. 

Rav Aviner writes that after the Six Day War he asked R' Tzvi Yehudah by what zechuyos we had earned having Yerushalayim in our possession.  R' Tzvi Yehudah answered that it was not our zechuyos -- we surely are not deserving -- but rather it is a gift from Hashem.

I think it's a davar pashut that if someone gives you a gift, kal v'chomer if G-d gives you a gift, that you have to say thank you and show your appreciation.


  1. I posted the idea that Har Hashem Yeira'eh could only be in a place of sheleimus and shalom. Or, miqdash Melekh can only be in an ir melukhah. I noted that RYBS's "haTzitz vehaChoshen" does not promote da'as Torah, but rather the reverse causality. Daas Torah tells one to turn to the Torah leadership for one's civil and secular questions. RYBS was saying that only a talmid chakham who is capable of advising on civil and secular matters should be utilized as Torah leadership.

    As Rav Shimon says, qedushah is commitment leheitiv es hazulas. Leheitiv et hazulas is logically prior to qedushah. Shaleim -> Har H' Yeira'eh -> Yerushalayim.


    1. See the last passuk in Yechezkel for yet another name

  2. "Hashem made a compromise." what compromise, when in point of fact, Shem* and Avraham held urgent meeting at migdal Bavel, Shem dismayed that the mob would lay claim to heaven, though Hashem was indisputably its Owner, moreover the Glorious Owner of the whole of creation, Avraham expressing his numinous sense that G-d had descended to see the situation (11:5); suddenly the two were ex-communicated one from the other, if only by two radically divergent pronunciations of lashon kodesh; Hashem felt so bad about splitting their speech that even after the two spoke together easily in lech lecha, He yet made sure to combine the names that the pair had separately given to the same place (thus fusing their speech)

    *Malkitzedek's birth name in the Shaleim scenario

    since June of '67, Yerushalayim remains the place where the Dome of the Rock in heaven stands exactly corresponding to the Dome of the Rock on earth. or so it seems.