Avodah Mailing List

Volume 40: Number 8

Wed, 02 Feb 2022

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Michael Poppers
Date: Sat, 29 Jan 2022 22:40:17 -0500
[Avodah] Bringing Joy to the Chosson and Kallah

In Avodah V40n7, RDrYL questioned an explanation quoted *b'sheim* RYB *z'l'*
>> Rav Belsky explains that the main obligation to bring joy to the
*chosson* and *kallah* is by smiling and demonstrating by your countenance
and actions that you believe the *chosson* and *kallah* made an excellent
decision. You should go over to the *chosson* and *kallah* and bless them,
compliment them on their appearance, and commend them on making such a wise
decision to marry their spouse. <<
> Given that many Orthodox weddings today have very high mechitzahs, and
the men and women are, of course,  on separate sides of this partition,
"How is a man supposed to speak to the Kallah, and how is a woman supposed
to speak to the Chasson?" <
At nearly every *chas'nah* I've attended, including my own, the *chasan
v'chalah* are together at least a few times -- those times may include (a)
when the *chasan* makes "hamotzi"; (b) when the men are dancing in front of
them; and (c) at Bircas haMazon/*sheva b'rachos*.  (They also are together
immediately after the *chuppah*, and if I care to, I try to be
*m'sameiach* them
together then, but that's tangential to my support of the explanation
quoted *b'sheim* Rav Belsky.)
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-aishdas.org/attachments/20220129/73c7589b/attachment-0001.html>

Go to top.

Message: 2
From: Zev Sero
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2022 01:16:34 -0500
Re: [Avodah] For he is his property

On 28/1/22 07:31, Akiva Miller via Avodah wrote:
> We often try to avoid translating "eved" as "slave". We often prefer 
> terms like "servant" or "long-term employee", because "slave" tends to 
> objectify a person, it removes his humanity. We point?out the many 
> obligations that the baal has towards his eved, and how the Torah 
> stresses the care that the baal must put into this relationship.

I don't know who is this "we" who avoids translating the word correctly. 
  An eved kena'ani *is* a slave.  And as far as I know his owner has no 
obligations to him whatsoever, not even the obligation to feed him after 
having put in a hard day's work picking his cotton. Of course he is not 
entitled to murder him, as for instance Roman law allowed, but Southern 
USA slave-owners were not entitled to murder their slaves either, and in 
principle they could be hanged for it, though I doubt it ever happened 
in practice.

RSRH is merely saying that slavery doesn't make someone less human; most 
slave-owning societies agreed with that, including the Southern USA, and 
even Rome.  The only society I'm aware of that actually thought of 
slaves as less than human is the Vikings; I'm not sure how they 
explained it, but somehow upon becoming enslaved a person was thought to 
lose whatever it is that makes humans human.

Zev Sero            Wishing everyone health, wealth, and
z...@sero.name       happiness in 2022

Go to top.

Message: 3
From: Zev Sero
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2022 01:04:43 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Those Whose Halakhic Status Is Questionable

On 29/1/22 21:47, Jay F. Shachter via Avodah wrote:
>> Tevilah must be in front of a beis din, and yes, it absolutely must be
>> lesheim giyur.  That is clearly stated in hilchos giyur.
> Yes, that is clearly the halakha, but I'm not sure that it's the halakha.
> First of all, when you say a beis din, I assume you mean, lav davqa a
> beyth din, since we see from Hilkoth Issurey Biah 13:6, and from the
> better-known Hilkoth Issurey Biah 13:17, that an actual beyth din is
> not needed bdi`avad.

What do you mean?  Those sources say the exact opposite, that a beis din 
of three is absolutely needed, and without it the person is not a ger at 
all.  There can't be such a thing as a geirus without one.  So no matter 
how many times a non-giyores goes to the mikveh, in the presence of only 
the mikveh lady or other women, she cannot become a giyores thereby.

> I was thinking of Hilkoth
> Issurey Biah 13:8, according to which it is possible for there to be
> evidence that establishes that you are a nokhri, but does not
> establish that your children are the children of a nokhri. 

That's not about gerus but about ne'emanus.  If a person says he 
"converted" without a beis din, he is in fact claiming not to be Jewish; 
the question is whether we believe him.  With regard to himself, whether 
he's telling the truth or not, his admission is better than 100 
witnesses, so he is to be treated as a goy.  Lechumra, of course, not 
lekula.  He can't get out of a conviction, e.g., for eating treif, by 
claiming to be a goy.   But he has no ne'emanus to passel his children, 
so with regard to them we *don't* say giyur without a beis din is OK, we 
say that we don't believe he didn't have a beis din. We think he's 
lying, and he really did have a beis din, but since he declares 
otherwise we will treat him as he says he is.

The same thing happens if a mother admits that she had an affair and her 
child is a mamzer.  She is believed about herself, and her husband must 
divorce her, but she has no ne'emanus about her child.  With regard to 
the child we say she is lying and never had the affair.

Or suppose someone sells property and then admits that he had stolen it. 
  With regard to himself we believe him and he must now pay his "victim" 
the value of the "stolen" property.  But with regard to the purchaser we 
don't believe him, and he keeps the property.

> No one on this
> mailing list has a problem with the notion that a man can be convicted
> of, e.g., adultery with a married woman, while the woman is acquitted
> of the same crime.  

Yes, but whether she actually is an adulteress is a question of fact, 
not of evidence.  If her husband believes that she did in fact commit 
the act, then he must divorce her, and if the beis din is convinced of 
it it can compel him to divorce her.  Because "asura laba`al" is not a 
function of the rules of evidence, but of the actual fact. If only 
Hashem knows that she is assur to her husband, she is still assur, and 
he is unwittingly violating that issur.

> Thus it was from Hilkoth
> Issurey Biah 13:8 that one can have the idea that, if a Torah-observant
> mother goes to the mikveh -- which every Torah-observant mother does
> -- her children are Jews,

But that is clearly not so.  If she was not Jewish and did not convert, 
then her going to mikveh can't change that.  Even if only Hashem knows, 
her children will still be goyim, and those who marry them will be 
unwittingly be in that position.  The daughters' children will be goyim, 
and the sons' wives will be pesulim lik'huna, so if they are widowed and 
then marry kohanim their children will be chalalim.

If the Rambam permitted marrying the Egyptian Kara'im with whom he was 
familiar, it was because each individual had a chazaka of being 
descended in the female line from known Jews, and not a mamzer.  He 
certainly did not permit marrying Kara'ite "converts", or known 
mamzerim. Beis Hillel did not permit marrying the mamzerim produced by 
Beis Shammai marriages that, according to BH and the halacha, were 
issurei kares.  They trusted BS to tell them which of their children 
were kosher and which were mamzerim.

I agree with you that the alarms being sounded about the proposed 
reforms in Israel are exaggerated.  On the contrary, the Rabbanut had no 
right to seize control of giyur in the first place, even in Israel, let 
alone in the whole world, as it has done, and all Kahane wants to do is 
return the halacha to what it always was. Actually he doesn't even want 
to go that far; he just wants to move it a little bit back in that 
direction. The Rabbanut may cry that its usurpation was in a good cause, 
and it might even be correct, but it was still a usurpation.

Zev Sero            Wishing everyone health, wealth, and
z...@sero.name       happiness in 2022

Go to top.

Message: 4
From: Prof. Levine
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2022 13:13:27 -0500
[Avodah] The Other Person's Gashmius Is Your Ruchnius

Last week on the 25th of Shvat was the Yahrzeit of Rav Yisrael Salanter, ZT"L.

Reb Yisroel Salanter, who started the Mussar Movement, is quoted as 
saying, "The other person's gashmius is your ruchnius." The story 
below indicates just how far he took this principle. It is from The 
Mussar Movement, Volume 1, part 1 pages 292 - 296. I personally found 
his approach to this issue  fascinating.


     R. Israel was blessed with a healthy and developed
political instinct. His approach to all problems was completely realistic.
He examined every life situation minutely
and took full account of all the angles. Hence communal
leaders would converge from near and far to seek his
advice on current problems and paid the closest heed to
his advice.

     It is worthwhile to place on record the report of an
interesting encounter between him and one of the leaders
of the Yishuv in Eretz Israel, A. L. Frumkin, so as to
reveal how R. Israel really approached questions addressed
to him. The meeting took place at the beginning of 5680
(c. Sept. 1880). The pogroms and the vicious anti-Jewish
decrees in Russia had stimulated a mass migration from
that country, and the idea of settling in Eretz Israel had
begun to take hold. At the same time a society had been
formed in Jerusalem, comprised of some fifty families,
with  the aim  of establishing an agricultural colony.
R. Frumkin had been dispatched as an emissary to Western
Europe to enlist financial backing for the project. En route,
he stopped in Koenigsberg. Hearing that R. Israel was
there, he came to see and consult with him. R. Frumkin's
account of the conversation runs as follows:
    "The next day, I arrived in the city of Koenigsberg.
There it became known to me that the authentic Gaon,
Rabbi of all Israel, R. Israel Salanter... was staying with
R. Jacob Krushkal. I accordingly went to pay my respects
to his holy presence, and to seek sacred counsel concern-
ing the journey I had undertaken. Before revealing my
inner thoughts to him, however,  I asked for practical
advice in respect of those who had already made up their
minds to settle abroad and would ask us whether they
should choose America or the Holy Land.

    "How astonished was I to see how this question seized
hold of the Gaon's entire thinking, how with his breadth
of comprehension and reflection, he delved into the depth
and breadth of all aspects of the problem, and was like
a man possessed. I set my heart to test all his thought and
feeling processes which this question had aroused in the
inner recesses of his heart, and it was most surprising and
astounding in my eyes. His brow became wrinkled and
relaxed time and again, and the light of his face changed
from minute to minute, as he paced the room with powerful
steps and reflected profoundly with his mighty spirit
on what to answer. After a protracted silence, he gave his
reply: `Let them go to America!' "I countered: `What does the Master believe?
Will they remain faithful to their holy religion over there?' `It is
difficult to believe that,' he sighed: `And those who wander
to our Holy Land, what does the Master believe of them?'
`It is very probable that they and their posterity will re-
main faithful Jews.' `If so', I said, `Why does the Master
say that they should choose to go to America?' `My dearest
friend,' he answered me bitterly, `How can we mislead
these wanderers with advice that is not to their benefit?
The very day of their arrival they will lack bread and water
to sustain themselves, since there is nowhere to earn
a penny there. The Moslem inhabitants and the fellahin
won't buy anything from them. Not so in America. Al-
though, there too, one cannot earn a living respectably,
nevertheless they will be able to still their hunger in the
grocery store the very first day they come there. As for
observing the Jewish religion, this will depend upon their
will power. There, too, it is possible for them to remain
Jews faithful to their G-d and King. Poverty, may G-d for-
fend, is not so. It perforce confounds one's belief in G-d.
If these wanderers will move about like shadows in the
Holy Land for a month or two and spend all their money,
they will finally be forced to seek their sustenance wherever
they can find it.'

    "`But if the leaders and wealthy Jews will set their
mind to this great matter,' I asked, `to establish these immigrants
in special colonies and provide them with their
needs, until G-d remembers them and they sustain them-
selves and their families from the fruits of their own labors,
would our Master still recommend America?'

    "`G-d forbid! If the matter will be set on a firm and
enduring footing, then everyone will have  to make an
honest assessment of his possessions and capabilities. If
he can establish himself, then undoubtedly it would be
a mitzvah to flee from these places even to forests and
deserts, so as to observe the Torah of our G-d.'

    "Thereupon, I disclosed my thoughts and my mission
to awaken and rouse the hearts of the rabbis and pious of
Germany to induce wealthy donors to provide the means
for at least one colony of fifty Jewish families. Whereupon,
he blessed me: `May G-d be with you and establish the
deeds of your hands.' And so I departed from him in
peace." [1]

      From R. Israel's delving into this problem, it is possible
to see how sensitive he was to human suffering and
poverty. With all his love for the Holy Land and his anxiety
for Jewish spiritual welfare, he would not ignore the economic
factor in human life. [2] He would never allow idealistic
aspirations   to  blind  his    eyes.  Worrying  about the
material welfare of the emigrants, he reached the seemingly
strange conclusion that America was to be preferred
to Eretz Israel as their destination, with all the negative
aspects entailed in such a choice, because in America one
could earn one's keep. He made his approval of settlement
in Eretz Israel conditional upon the assurance of a livelihood
for the immigrants.

[1.]  R. Frumkin's letter dated Sivan 10, 5642 (May 28, 1882) is printed
     in A. Druianov, Historical Documents pertaining to the Chibbat
     Zion Movement and the Jewish Settlement In Eretz Israel (Hebrew),
     III, p. 410. As a result of R. Israel's encouragement, R.
     Jacob Chvas (mentioned above), who would never take any step
     without P.. Israel's approval, joined A. L. Frumkin in approaching
     the philanthropist, Ovadiah Lachmann known to us as the
     provider of the financial backing for the Kollelim (Chap. 14).
     The last-named contributed 10,000 marks towards the founding
     of the colony, and the income it produced was to be used to
     maintain Torah students. P.. Ezriel Hildesheimer and Dr. Lehmann
     also joined the campaign. As a result a sizeable tract of land
     was purchased in Petach Tikvah. For a considerable time, it was
     managed by R. Frun~ikin, and this is how Petach Tikvah began.
     R. Eliezer Jacob visited Eretz Israel several times on behalf of
     the project. (For details, see The Fiftieth Anniversary of Petach
     Tikvah [Hebrew] and the introduction to Frumkin's Toledot
     Chachme Yerushalayim ["History of the Sages of Jerusalem"]).

[2.] Cf. his Musar doctrine, below Chap. 23, according to which one is
     not permitted, in matters affecting someone else, to advise asceticism
     or trust in G-d, but must first of all attend to that person's 
material needs.

Professor Yitzchok Levine

Go to top.

Message: 5
From: Joel Rich
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2022 22:52:36 -0500
[Avodah] shir hamaalot

MB (3:11) points out that shir hamaalot is said before birchat hamazon on
Shabbat (and non-tachanun days) in place of al naharot bavel. So how did
the replacement become fixed and the original ISTM become abandoned?

Joel Rich
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-aishdas.org/attachments/20220201/b06c4d06/attachment-0001.html>

Go to top.

Message: 6
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2022 13:40:23 -0500
Re: [Avodah] shir hamaalot

On Tue, Feb 01, 2022 at 10:52:36PM -0500, Joel Rich via Avodah wrote:
> MB (3:11) points out that shir hamaalot is said before birchat hamazon on
> Shabbat (and non-tachanun days) in place of al naharot bavel. So how did
> the replacement become fixed and the original ISTM become abandoned?

I thought it was simply that a minhag to say more on Shabbos or Yom Tov,
often after a heavy se'udah, is more likely to be honored than a minhag
that costs time on a workday.

Tir'u baTov!

Go to top.

Message: 7
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2022 14:15:17 -0500
[Avodah] Textual variants of the Torah?

When I was maavir sedra last week I noticed an interesting contrast in
two citations by the Torah Temimah on Shemos 24:5. Moshe Rabbeinu is setting
up a beris ritual at Har Sinai. He sends "naarei Benei Yisrael" to bring

Megillah 9a, in the list of changes in Targum Shiv'im, list the change to
"zatutei BY".Presumably that the Ptolemies would be more comfortable with
the idea that Moshe appointed "the elect of the BY" rather than youths.

In Soferim 6:4 and Yalqut Shim'oni remez 964 have a different origin for
"za'atutei", involving what is usually explained to be about Ezra's
restoration of the mesoretic text after Galus Bavel. (Torah Temimah
says TY Taanis 4:2, but I couldn't find it there.) Touching up Sefaria's

    R. Shomon b. Laqish said: Three scrolls of the Torah were found
    in the Azara: the "Ma'on" scroll, the "Za'atutei" scroll, and the
    "Hu" scroll. In one of these they found the expression of "ma'on",
    and in the other two it was written, "The eternal God is me'onah",
    so they adopted the reading of the two scrolls and discarded that
    of the one scroll. In another of the scrolls they found it written,
    "And he sent the za'atutei of the BY" and in the other two they found
    written "And he sent na'arei BY", so they retained the reading of
    the two and abandoned that of the one. In one of the scrolls "hu"
    [or maybe hee with a vuv?] was written eleven times, but in the other
    two "hee" was written eleven times, so they adopted the reading of
    the two and discarded that of the one.

It would be one thing if the Targum Shiv'im were a sectarian production,
like the Septuagint. Then it would be easy enough to say that while we
follow the tradition set by Ezra, that sect followed the Za'atutei scroll.

But here we must say that at most the 70 rabbenim at most got the idea
because they remembered the story of the za'atutei scroll.

The TT suggests that maybe the three variants of sifrei Torah wasn't in
Ezra's day but after Ptolmey's. And that the variant translation may
have made it by accident back into one scroll's text. But he leaves the
dating of the story left to "yeish le'ayein".

In any case, the idea that Moshe sent nobles just won't die.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 In the days of our sages, man didn't sin unless
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   he was overcome with a spirit of foolishness.
Author: Widen Your Tent      Today, we don't do a mitzvah unless we receive
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF    a spirit of purity.      - Rav Yisrael Salanter

Go to top.

Message: 8
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2022 13:30:56 -0500
[Avodah] Moshe Lichenstein on Kedushas Har haBayis (and going

I thought this topic was "hot" enough that we may want to discuss.

Happy Adar I!

Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2022 11:56:08 +0200
From: Torat Har Etzion <to...@haretzion.org.il>
Subject: Weekly lesson in Sichot Rashei HaYeshiva 5782 (en) #19

The Source of the Temple's Sanctity

At the center of our parasha is the command to build the
Mishkan. According to Ramban, the Mishkan is a fundamental, essential
element in the service of God. As he writes (Shemot 25:1):

"When God spoke with Israel face to face, conveying the Ten Commandments,
and commanded them -- via Moshe -- some of the laws which are like main
headings of the laws of the Torah, as our rabbis would teach proselytes
seeking to convert to Judaism; and when Israel agreed to do all that
they would be commanded via Moshe, and God forged a covenant with them
over all of this, from that point onwards they would be His people and
He would be their God, as He had stipulated from the outset -- 'And now,
if you will diligently obey Me and observe My covenant, then you will be
special for Me' (19:5), and He said, 'And you will be for Me a kingdom of
priests and a holy nation' (19:6) -- thus they were holy and worthy of
having a Sanctuary in their midst, that His Presence might reside among
them. Therefore God commanded the matter of the Mishkan at the outset, so
that He would have a house in their midst that was sanctified to His Name,
and there He would speak with Moshe and command Bnei Yisrael. And the
crux of the purpose of the Mishkan is the place where the Divine Presence
rests; this is the Ark, as it is written (25:22), 'And I shall meet with
you there, and I shall speak with you from above the covering..'"

Ramban seeks to place the Mishkan -- or, later on, the Temple -- at the
center of Jewish consciousness. Following the destruction of the Temple,
there are two main ways of inculcating this concept. The first way, to
which all authorities agree, is through national memory. This comprises
both positive elements -- such as reciting the order of the Kohen Gadol's
service in the Temple on Yom Kippur, and negative elements -- for example,
the section of the Yom Kippur prayers that follows, with its mourning over
the fact that the glorious and holy service can no longer be performed,
or the lamentations on Tish'a be-Av, etc. Three times each day we plead,
"Let our eyes behold Your return to Zion in mercy", and the Temple is
mentioned very often on different occasions in Jewish life.

The second way is more complex, and this is the subject of our present
discussion. Technically speaking, since the time of the Destruction, Am
Yisrael follows an alternative path of Divine service -- that of prayer:
"We will offer [the words of] our mouths instead of calves" (Hoshea
14:3). Am Yisrael moves to the "miniature Temple" -- the synagogue with
its set prayer service -- as an alternative "direct route" to God, instead
of the idea of "They shall pray to God towards the city which You have
chosen, and the house that I have built for Your Name" (Melakhim I 8:44).

During my studies at the Hebrew University, I used to pray mincha at
the synagogue on campus. The architect, seeking to make the most of
the university's location, had placed a panoramic window looking out
onto the Temple Mount. It took some time before I realized what it was
that disturbed me when I prayed there: in order to accommodate this
impressive view, the Aron Kodesh had been located unobtrusively on the
side, leaving the Temple Mount as the center of attention.

It is important that we keep in mind that in the absence of the Temple,
there is little point in looking out over the "Mount." Other than the
Rambam, most authorities attach no intrinsic holiness to the Temple
Mount itself, where "foxes roam" (Eikha 5:18) and trees grow, despite
the Torah prohibition (Hilkhot Beit Ha-Bechira, chapter 1).

The Tosafot on Kiddushin 31b question the opening words of chapter
79 of Tehillim: "A psalm (or 'song' -- mizmor) of Asaf: God, heathen
nations have entered Your inheritance.." How can this be introduced
as a "song"? Should it not rather be called a "dirge of Asaf"? The
answer that the Tosafot offer is that the "song" is indeed appropriate,
"for He exhausted His fury on wood and stones" (such that the Temple
was destroyed, but Am Yisrael was not annihilated). The Temple retains
no holiness without the Divine Presence, which was exiled together with
the nation.

Commenting on the verse, "Draw out and take for yourselves lambs"
(Shemot 12:21), the Meshekh Chokhma comments:

"The foundation of the sanctity of the holy places does not stem
from religion, but rather from the nation and from their historical
roots. For example, Mount Moriah['s significance stems from the fact that]
man was created there (Sanhedrin 38b), and it was there that Avraham
bound Yitzchak as a sacrifice (Bereishit 22), and it was chosen by a
prophet. Religious sources [do not single out Mt. Moriah, but rather]
say merely, "the place which God shall choose." Similarly, Mount Sinai
is the place where the Torah itself was given -- but once the Divine
Presence left, even animals could ascend (Shemot 19). For our religious
feeling should not be misled into association with any image. Jerusalem,
and all of Eretz Yisrael, and Mount Moriah, are built upon their relation
to our forefathers, the roots of our faith, and the unification of our
faith with its source, such that all religious emotion should be solely
for the unity of the nation. This is a profound idea, beyond the scope
of the present discussion."

Nevertheless, the Meshekh Chokhma does go on to elaborate, in his
commentary on parashat Ki Tisa (32:19), where Moshe casts down the

"Do not imagine that the Temple and the Mishkan are holy in and of
themselves, heaven forefend. God dwells among His children, and if
'they, like men, have violated the covenant' (Hoshea 6), then all
holiness is removed from them, and they are like any profane objects --
'Robbers have entered and profaned it' (Nedarim 62a). Titus entered
the Holy of Holies with a prostitute, and he emerged unharmed (Gittin
56b), for its holiness had been removed. Moreover, even the Tablets,
'inscribed by God,' are not holy in and of themselves, but rather only
for you. Thus, when the bride prostituted herself under the very wedding
canopy (a metaphor for Bnei Yisrael's sin with the golden calf), they [the
Tablets] became nothing more than clay shards, with no holiness of their
own; they are holy only for you, that you may observe what is written
on them. Ultimately, there is nothing in the world that is intrinsically
holy, worthy of service and submission; only God Himself, and only He is
worthy of praise and worship. Everything else that is holy is so because
of God's command to build a Mishkan, to offer sacrifices to God."

Objects have no holiness in their own right; even the Tablets themselves
are holy only "for you, that you may observe what is written on them."

A similar idea is expressed by Rabbi Mordekhai Ilan zt"l, who writes in
the introduction to his book, Torat ha-Kodesh (part II):

"There are two fundamental concepts that are mentioned in relation to the
Mikdash, and they are choice and holiness. [and] they are also mentioned
in relation to Am Yisrael and its inner core of sanctity, which together
represent the power behind the nation's eternal existence. And whereas
concerning the sanctity of the Temple we read, 'Robbers have entered and
profaned it' -- concerning which the Rishonim are divided as to whether
it refers to hostile forces from without or from within Am Yisrael., no
invasion of the spiritual life of Am Yisrael will violate the nation's
inner sanctuary. The resilience of its purity is revealed specifically
when there are attempts to undermine its essence. Then there is a
shedding of the outer shell, which casts a shadow on its true identity,
and the true, genuine essence of Israel is revealed as a holy nation,
precious beyond gold."

In siman 1:1 we find:

"It is clear from the words of the Ridbaz that the Levite camp is not
considered part of the Temple. for the name 'Mikdash' applies only to the
Camp of the Shekhina. So too in Hilkhot Beit Ha-Bechira 7:4 with regard to
awe of the Temple, it is clear that the law does not apply to the Temple
Mount (which is equivalent to the Levite camp, as I explained). The
Meiri (Yevamot 6b) said that 'awe of the Temple' applies to the Temple
Mount only by a rabbinic ruling, for essentially the Levite camp is not
included of the mitzva of 'You shall have reverence for My Temple.'"

The synagogue is the vessel through which a Jew is meant, in our times,
to build his spiritual world and his relationship with God. The importance
of the Western Wall (Kotel) arises not from its architectural role as
a supporting wall of the Temple structure, as some Jews who visit the
Temple Mount scoff, but rather as the largest and most active synagogue
in the world -- a place where millions of people, over the generations,
have poured out their hearts to God.

As to visiting the Temple Mount itself: aside from the halakhic problems
involved, which are not in any way insignificant, I wish to mention two
additional objections.

The first is the transformation of the Temple Mount into a sectorial
matter. I have mentioned this problem in the past, but no one seems
to be addressing the issue. As in the case of the ideal of settling
Eretz Yisrael, the National-Religious public is in danger of turning
"the Temple Mount" into a term almost synonymous with "settlement." The
Temple Mount may, heaven forefend, come to be viewed as a messianic,
lunatic, unreal place. The National-Religious public must understand
that if "the Temple Mount is in our hands," the rest of the nation will
stop feeling that "the Temple Mount is in our hearts," and that is a
far more serious situation. The moment that the secular public in Israel
feels that the Temple Mount has become something alien and threatening,
the political results will not be long in coming.

There are those who argue that the secular public is alienated in any
case; others will claim that the importance of maintaining the Temple
Mount overrides these considerations. Nevertheless, I believe that most
secular Israelis still maintain some sort of connection with their Jewish
faith. The connection that they feel towards Eretz Yisrael has long
dissipated, owing to the appropriation of the ideology of the "Greater
Eretz Yisrael" by a small, well-delineated sector. It is therefore
preferable, with all the real pain that this entails, that the Temple
Mount remain in the category of those concepts pertaining to the Messianic
era, rather than erasing it in the present from the hearts of Am Yisrael.

The National-Religious public must also understand the geo-political
implications of any action pertaining to the Temple Mount, and re-examine
its policy. Rabbi Akiva Eiger wrote to the Chatam Sofer, asking that
he reinstitute the Pesach sacrifice on the Temple Mount when he visited
there. The Chatam Sofer responded (Responsa Chatam Sofer, Yoreh De'a 136),
that the "Ishmaelites" would not permit this.

Secondly, there are currently problems inherent in the experience of
visiting the Temple Mount. A religious Jew who stands on the Temple Mount
and, seeking to recite a chapter of Tehillim, is forced to mumble under
his breath without moving his lips, experiences a blow to all that
is dear to him. When visiting the Temple Mount demands such a heavy
psychological price, "the affliction is not worth the king's damage."

In addition, and as mentioned above, the Temple Mount is not the proper
path for Divine service in our time. God has chosen the alternative of
prayer in our synagogues, and this is the proper way to serve Him.

(This sicha was delivered on Shabbat parashat Teruma 5769 [2009].


Avodah mailing list



Send Avodah mailing list submissions to

To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit

You can reach the person managing the list at

When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific
than "Re: Contents of Avodah digest..."

A list of common acronyms is available at
(They are also visible in the web archive copy of each digest.)

< Previous Next >