Parshas Ki Sisa; The Third Beis Hamikdash – Part 2 : Welcome to part two of our three-part series on the third beis hamikdash. Last week we discussed who will build the mikdash. We quoted the opinion of Rashi that Hashem will build it, and the Rambam’s view that we will build it. And we then went on to say (from the Maharam Shik) that there is no real argument here; they just reflect the two ways the messianic process can unfold (be’itah and va’achishena). I have since found a similar answer from Rav Neventzal.[1] He adds one point to sharpen this approach. He writes that the Rambam had to be discussing the option of our building the mikdash, because his is a halachic sefer , and so he is detailing our obligations. It is of little halachic significance to us if the mikdash will be built by HaShem (the va’achishena means). Therefore, the Rambam had to discuss the be’itah means, purely because it is through this means that we have a halachic obligation to build the mikdash. Rav Neventzal then quotes a different resolution to this machlokes from Rav Nachum Partzovitz. Rav Nachum answers that both are true; we will build the mikdash, and the mikdash will come down from Heaven.[2] How so? He bases his answer on the Rambam, who writes[3] that there are three versions of the ‘layout’ of the beis hamikdash. There is the layout of the first beis hamikdash and the layout/dimensions according to the (cryptic) psukim in sefer Yechezkal. The second beis hamikdash was a mixture of those two,[3] for no-one could interpret those psukim in Yechezkal precisely enough. Therefore, says Rav Nachum, we will also not be able to ‘decode’ the psukim in Yechezkal accurately enough to build the third mikdash. Rather, we will build it to match the second beis hamikdash, and then Hashem replace this with the mikdash according to the dimensions/plan in sefer Yechezkal, which HaShem will lower down from Heaven. That was all an addition/completion to last week’s topic.

This week we are going to zoom in on one point of the Rambam’s opinion as to who is obligated to build this mikdash, aiming to resolve a contradiction therein. First, an introduction. There are two types of obligation in mitzvos; an obligation incumbent upon an individual (chovas yachid), and an obligation incumbent upon a community (chovas tzibur). Most mitzvos come under the former heading; e.g. shaking a lulav, davening, learning Torah, etc. But there are some mitzvos which are chovas tzibur. For example, leining was fixed as a communal obligation; if there is no minyan present then there is no leining, for the obligation to lein only exists when there is a minyan. Similarly, the mitzvah to appoint a king is a chovas tzibur;[4] as a community/nation, we appoint a king. The question we are going to tackle is the following: is the mitzvah to build the beis hamikdash a chovas yachid or a chovas tzibur; I.e. is each and every person obligated to build the mikdash, or is it one of those mitzvos for which the community is responsible as a whole, as opposed to each and every individual? This issue is the same for all three batei mikdash.

The question seems a non-starter, for the Rambam clearly writes in the Yad Hachazakah,[5] referring to the mitzvah to build the beis hamidkash, that ‘everyone is obligated to build and to help, with their physical bodies and material wealth; men and women – like the mikdash (mishkan) in the desert.’ But we promised a contradiction, and here it is! The Rambam in his Sefer Hamitzvos[6] says the following: ‘when you look over all the mitzvos which I have now mentioned, you will find that some of them are mitzvos which are incumbent upon the community and not each and every person, like [the mitzvah of] building the beis hamikdash, appointing a king, and destroying Amalek.’ Is it a chovas tzibur or a chovas yachid; how to we resolve this contradiction as to Rambam’s view? I would like to draw your attention to three approaches.

Firstly, Rav Clemenson in his sefer Afikei Mayim[7] suggests a novel resolution to this contradiction. He writes that there are two aspects to the beis hamikdash; it is the place of HaShem’s Shechinah, and a place to offer sacrifices. These two aspects can be seen clearly from the Rambam, who writes,[8] referring to the mitzvah of building the mikdash, that ‘it is a positive mitzvah to make a house for HaShem, [a place] ready for offering sacrifices…’ Rav Clemenson continues that these two aspects occupy two different forms of obligation; the responsibility for ensuring a place for the Shechinah to dwell is incumbent upon all of klal yisrael (it is a chovas tzibur), whilst the obligation to make a place to offer sacrifices is incumbent upon each and every individual (it is a chovas yachid). However, this answer is not so watertight. Firstly, I do not see why sacrifices should be a chovas yachid more than the Shechinah aspect; there were many sacrifices which were brought on behalf of the entire nation. Secondly, when the Rambam describes the mitzvah of building the mikdash earlier in Sefer Hamitzvos,[9] he only mentions the aspect of the sacrifices, and yet calls this mitzvah a chovas tzibur. Also, the problem with such an answer is its implications that the Rambam missed out information in each sefer; in the Sefer Hamitzvos he omitted the chovas yachid (and thus apparently the sacrifices too), and in the Yad Hachazakah when he branded the mitzvah a chovas yachid, he missed out the chovas tzibur (and so the Shechinah aspect too). Therefore, we shall come onto a second approach.

The second means of resolution is simply to say that the mitzvah of building the mikdash is both a chovas yachid and a chovas tzibur. And we have a precedent for this; the Sefer Hachinuch writes[10] that the mitzvah to destroy Amalek is both a chovas yachid and chovas tzibur. Another (arguably more precise) version of this answer is to say that the obligation to build the mikash is on the tzibur, but the way we fulfil the mitzvah is that every person contributes.[11] We can attempt a sophisticated last approach though.

There is another distinction made within mitzvos; is the mitzvah the end result of any given action, or the action itself? This varies from mitzvah to mitzvah.[12] For example, with regards to the mitzvah to ensure one has a fence around their roof to prevent people falling, the mitzvah is not to build this fence; the Torah merely wants the end result of a fence being present on one’s roof. Contrast this with the mitzvah of shaking lulav, where HaShem wants the action of the lulav being shaken. Thus, our third answer is to suggest that the mitzvah of building the mikdash has both aspects; it is a mitzvah to do the action of building the mikdash, and another aspect to the mitzvah is the end result; that there is a mikdash. An easy way of distinguishing between the two is what happens if people start bulding the mikdash but are forced to stop; have they fulfilled the mitzvah of building the mikdash? According to the ‘end result’ aspect, they have not fulfilled the mitzvah – because the desired end result (a mikdash) is not there. But according the aspect that the act of building itself is a mitzvah, then they have fulfilled a mitzvah here. Using this, our answer is therefore to suggest that the aspect of the mitzvah which focuses on the action of building the mikdash is a chovas yachid (and applies irrespective of whether the mikdash is completed), whilst the aspect of the end result of having a mikdash present is a chovas tzibur. First, we need to try and prove the existence of such a suggestion. We quoted the Sefer Hachinuch above that a mitzvah can include a chovas yachid and a chovas tzibur. But can a mitzvah have both strands (a chovas yachid and chovas tzibur) which are separate from each other to the extent that in certain cases one fulfils one without the other? There is a precedent for this from the Rashbash,[13] who says that though the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisrael originally composed of a chovas yachid and a chovas tzibur, HaShem took away the chovas tzibur element,[14] and so now the mitzvah only has a chovas yachid element. We also have a precedent for a mitzvah which has both aspects in regards to whether its focus is the action or the end result of that action; the mitzvah of Shabbos candles. The Rambam writes[15] that the mitzvah of Shabbos candles is ‘to have in one’s house a lit candle on Shabbos.’ It seems that the mitzvah is the end result of having a lit candle there, as opposed to the action of lighting a candle. But he writes[16] that the bracha we say is ‘You have commanded us to light the candle of Shabbos’ (‘…lehadlik ner shel Shabbos’); it seems that the mitzvah is the action of lighting the candle. Rather, both must be true; the mitzvah of Shabbos candles has the aspect of the action and of the end result.

This third explanation might be the key to why the Torah reports the mishkan donations in both parshas Vayakhel and parshas Pekudei.[17] Why repeat things? In parshas Pekudei, the mishkan had been completed, and so the Torah is reporting that the aspect of the end result of having a mikdash has been fulfilled. Whilst in Vayakhel we are at the point at which the mishkan is being built, and so the donations show that the Bnei Yisrael were fulfilling the aspect of the action of building the mishkan. This might also be why the psukim in Pekudei are phrased in the communal (it reports the total donations from the nation), because the end result aspect to the mitzvah is the chovas tzibur. Whilst those psukim from Vayakhel focus on each person’s individual donation, because it is referring to the mitzvah aspect of the action of building itself, which is a chovas yachid; incumbent upon each individual.

May HaShem bring the third beis hamikdash soon,

Have a great Shabbos!

[1] Sefer Beyitzchak Yikarei (an old sefer of Rav Neventzal's) chelek beis siman 39. He actually says it the other way round – that if we are meritorious (v’achishena) then we will get to build the mikdash ourselves, whilst if we are not meritorious (b’itah) then HaShem will have to build the mikdash. [2] The Aruch Laner Sukkah 41a has a similar approach in this respect [3] Rambam hilchos Beis Habechirah 1:4 [4] Sefer Hachinuch mitzvah 497 [5] Rambam, hilchos Beis Habechirah 1:12 [6] Rambam, Sefer Hamitzvos, in the paragraphs after mitzvas asei 248 [7] Afikei Mayim, chelek alef siman 14. I have to admit that I do not know who Rav Clemenson is; I picked up his book in a ‘sefer giveaway’ offer outside yeshiva! [8] Rambam hilchos Beis Habechirah 1:1 [9] Rambam Sefer Hamitzvos mitzvas asei 20 [10] Sefer Hachinuch, end of mitzvah 604. There is another precedent in Shut Rashbash siman 2 (he was the son of the Tashbeitz), regarding the mitvah of yishuv Eretz Yisrael [11] And perhaps the way one practically fulfils the mitzvah is through others building/contributing for you. For none of the two batei mikdash involved the entire nation coming up to Yerushalayim to build the mikdash; a smaller group was in charge of the building work. [12] This is the basis of the comment of Rav Elchonon Wasserman regarding shelichus [13] Shut HaRashbash siman 2. He was an early Acharon. [14] Because of the three oaths mentioned in gemarra Kesubos 111a. All he says is that after the three oaths, the mitzvah is now only a chovas yachid. That must mean that originally there was a chovas tzibur too. [15] Rambam hilchos Shabbos 5:1 [16] Rambam hilchos Shabbos 5:1 [17] Shemos 35:21-19 and 38:24-29 respectively

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