The Shabbos Table – Terumah: R’ Y. Sacks Shlita: What is the Purpose of the Mishkan / Mikdash?
This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my mother Chaya Rochel Bas Dovid Tzvi A”H, my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, my paternal grandmother Channah Freidel Bas Avraham A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein,
It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandmother Shulamis Bas Etta
-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili
_R’ Simcha Yitzchak Ben Mirela Yudka
-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis
-Yonatan Menachem Mendel Ben Orly, Eli Aharon Michel Ben Chaya
-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of HaRav HaGa’on V’Sar HaTorah Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Ben HaRav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky A”H, Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken by terrorists (Hashem Yikom Damam) and other tragedies.
-It should also be a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael during this dire time, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.
-The wounded should experience Refuah Shileimah, the captives should be returned safely, the fallen should experience Kevurah and Aliyah for their Neshamos and Nekamah for their Dam, their Krovim should experience Nechamah, the Chayalim should be Matzliach and Minatzei’ach, and Am Yisrael should experience Geulah.
Be”H, I will be translating / transcribing / paraphrasing Divrei Torah of my Rebbi, HaGaon R’ Yonason Avner Sacks Shlita. (Any inaccuracies, whether added, misrepresented, or due to omission and/or points lost in translation or context should be attributed to me alone. * = My addition.)
“What was the Purpose of the Mishkan / Mikdash?”
Based on:
Parsha Shiur – Parshas Terumah: Mishkan – Beis Avodah & Beis HaShechinah (2015)
Sicha – Terumah: The Uniqueness of the Aron
“Mitzvas Binyan Beis HaMikdash” (Yom Tzom Ta’aniseinu, Siman 24, Page 350)
Binyan Beis HaMikdash
     The Pasuk in Parshas Terumah states: “וְעָ֥שׂוּ לִ֖י מִקְדָּ֑שׁ וְשָֽׁכַנְתִּ֖י בְּתוֹכָֽם” (“And they shall make for Me a Temple and I will dwell among them” -Shemos 25:8). What exactly is included in this Mitzvah? This question is the subject of an important Machlokes, Rambam and Ramban.
Conforming to Taryag
     R’ Simlai taught that the Torah consists of Taryag Mitzvos (Makkos 23B), 613 Mitzvos. The Rishonim and Ge’onim have composed several variations of a Sefer HaMitzvos, each one carefully conforming to this Mesorah.
     But, there are many more Tzivuyim (commands) in the Torah than Taryag. How do we know what is considered to be of the Taryag Mitzvos? In his Shorashim (root principles), the Rambam lists fourteen requirements that a Tzivui must meet to be considered one of the Taryag Mitzvos.
Counting the Mitzvos of Mishkan
     One of the great challenges the Rishonim faced is figuring out what to do with all of the Tzivuyim of our Parshiyos of the Mishkan, Terumah, Tetzaveh, (Ki Sisa,) Vayak’heil, Pekudei.
Rambam – One Mitzvah: “וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ”
     The Rambam writes one convenient approach in Sefer HaMitzvos, Mitzvah #20, that there is just one Mitzvah: “וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ,” the Mitzvah of Asiyas HaMikdash. And this Mitzvah embraces all of the Keilim as well. That is how the Rambam consolidates.
Ramban – Hech’sher Avodah / Mitzvah
     The Ramban doesn’t comment here at Mitzvah #20, but he waits until Mitzvah #33 where the Rambam counts a Mitzvah of Levishas Bigdei Kehunah, for a Kohein to wear Bigdei Kehunah while engaging in Avodah.
(B’Hag’s opinion is the exact opposite of Rambam’s; he counts an Issur [prohibition] of Mechusar Bigadim, serving in the Mikdash without the Bigdei Kehunah, but no specific Mitzvah of wearing them.)
     However, the Ramban wonders why one would count a Mitzvah of wearing Bigdei Kehunah. Of course, there is a Mitzvah of Avodah, and Avodah must be performed properly. And if a Kohein performs Avodah without being adorned with the Bigdei Kehunah, his Avodah is invalid. Accordingly, Levishas Bigdei Kehunah is a Hech’sher Avodah (prerequisite for service), a Hech’sher Mitzvah. But, it isn’t a separate Mitzvah.
     Therefore, for the same reason, the Ramban writes that one would not count several of the instructions in Parshas Terumah as well. The construction of each of the Keilim is all a Hech’sher to Avodah, so not every instruction should be counted among the Taryag.
Binyan HaMikdash vs. Hech’sher Avodah
     What emerges is that while the Rambam and the Ramban would each not count, for example, the Mitzvah of Asiyas HaShulchan (making the Table), it is for very different reasons. According to the Rambam, it is included in “וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ.” According to the Ramban, it is but a Hech’sher Avodah.
Machlokes L’Shitasam: The Function of the Mikdash
     One can argue that this Machlokes is beautifully L’Shitasam. Consider the most basic question: What is the purpose, essence, character, and nature of the Beis HaMikdash? What is its primary function?
     ● Rambam – Beis Avodah
     The Rambam writes in Sefer HaMitzvos (Mitzvah #20) and in Hilchos Beis HaBechirah that the Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash each serve primarily as a Beis Avodah (house of worship).
     ● Ramban – Beis HaShechinah
     The Ramban writes very differently that the purpose of the Mishkan and Mikdash is to serve as a Beis HaShechinah. Klal Yisrael had experienced Ma’amad Har Sinai which featured unbelievable Hashra’as HaShechinah. The Mishkan served to capture and preserve that Hashra’as HaShechinah.
     That is why the Torah uses similar terms to describe each experience. “וַיִּשְׁכֹּ֤ן כְּבֽוֹד ה׳ עַל־הַ֣ר סִינַ֔י וַיְכַסֵּ֥הוּ הֶֽעָנָ֖ן…” (“And the glory of Hashem resided on Har Sinai and the cloud covered it” -Shemos 24:16), and “וַיְכַ֥ס הֶֽעָנָ֖ן אֶת־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וּכְב֣וֹד ה׳ מָלֵ֖א אֶת־הַמִּשְׁכָּֽן” (“And the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and the glory of Hashem filled the Mishkan” -Ibid. 40:34).
Rambam: Beis Avodah Includes Klei Avodah
     Now is it not reasonable that if, according to the Rambam, the Mishkan and Mikdash are a Beis Avodah, that the Keilim, the Klei Avodah, would be included in the Mitzvah of Asiyas HaMikdash? Could one envision a Beis Avodah without the tools to perform Avodah? That is why the Rambam does not count the construction of each Kli as its own Mitzvah.
Ramban: Avodah Requires Keilim, Beis HaShechinah Does Not
     However, the Ramban assumes that the Mishkan and Mikdash are a Beis HaShechinah. The Ramban is therefore not willing to grant that the Mitzvah of “וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ” embraces all of the Keilim. Because, who says that the Hashra’as HaShechinah requires the construction of a Shulchan, a Menorah, or a Kiyor?
     The Ramban would therefore require an alternative justification as to why one should not count the construction of each Kli as its own Mitzvah. And indeed, the Ramban writes that we do not count each one, but not because each one is intrinsically essential to the purpose of the Mikdash, but because each one is but a Hech’sher Avodah, q Hech’sher Mitzvah.
Seder Hanachas Keilim
     A further proof of this Machlokes L’Shitasam can be found at the very end of Sefer HaMitzvos where Ramban has a section referred to as Mitzvos SheShachach HaRav (Mitzvos which the Rambam “forgot”). Since the Rambam and Ramban are working within the rubric of Taryag, whenever the Ramban says not to count certain Mitzvos which the Rambam does count, the Ramban has to count additional Mitzvos to complete Taryag.
     In Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseih #33, the Ramban counts a Lav (prohibition) not to deviate from the Seder Hanachas Keilim (order within the placement of the Keilim). Why doesn’t Rambam count this Mitzvah? Because the proper placement of the Keilim is part of the Mitzvah of “וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ.” The Keilim are essential to the primary function of the Mikdash as a Beis Avodah, so one need not include a separate Mitzvah for appropriate arrangement of the Keilim.
     Of course, Ramban would not agree because he views the primary function of the Mikdash as a Beis HaShechinah, to which Keilim are not necessarily essential. Thus, one must count a separate Issur protecting Seder Hanachas Keilim.
What about the Aron?
     If this is true, the Ramban is reasonably bothered: What do we do with the Aron? Why shouldn’t the construction of the Aron be its own Mitzvah? Could that be classified as a Hech’sher Avodah? What would be the “Avodas HaAron”? I understand that Korbanos are offered on the Mizbei’ach, Neiros are lit on the Menorah, and Lechem HaPanim is placed upon the Shulchan. But, what Avodah is performed with the Aron?
The Uniqueness of the Aron
     Indeed, it is for this reason that Ramban writes that the construction of the Aron is not just a Hech’sher Avodah, but it is counted as its own Mitzvah (*Perhaps, one might argue that Asiyas HaAron is the Avodah itself).
     Not only is Asiyas HaAron its own Mitzvah, but the Ramban points out that as opposed to the other Keilim whose instructions the Torah commands in singular, “V’Asisa” (“and you shall make”), the Mitzvah of Asiyas HaAron is commanded in plural, “V’Asu.”
     I have often pointed out that Vilna Ga’on writes that Mitzvos communicated in singular suggest a Chovas HaTzibur (communal obligation), whereas Mitzvos commanded plural suggest a Chovah Al Kal Echad V’Echad, an obligation upon each and every individual. That means that every Yachid of Klal Yisrael has an obligation in participating in Asiyas HaAron. That is because the Aron represents the primacy of the Toras Hashem in which everyone must have a Zechus, as the Ramban writes, “יָבֹאוּ הַכֹּל וְיִתְעַסְּקוּ בְּאָרוֹן שֶׁיִּזְכּוּ לְתוֹרָה” (citing Shemos Rabbah 34:2).
     We should be Zocheh to engage in Toras Hashem and return to our Beis Avodah / HaShechinah with Binyan Bayis Shlishi and the coming of the Geulah in the the coming of Moshiach, Bimheirah BiYomeinu!