THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) THE KERUVIM IN THE SECOND BEIS HA'MIKDASH
QUESTION: Rav Ketina stated that on each of the Shalosh Regalim, the
Kohanim would pull back the Paroches in order to let the Jewish people see
the Keruvim embracing each other, displaying Hashem's love for His people.
The Gemara asks in which Beis ha'Mikdash was this done? It could not have
been in the first Beis ha'Mikdash, because there was no Paroches covering
the Kodesh Ha'Kodashim there, but rather a wall (the "Amah Traksin"). It
could not have been in the second Beis ha'Mikdash, because there were no
Keruvim in the second Beis ha'Mikdash.
RASHI (DH Mi Havu) explains that when the Gemara says there were no
Keruvim, it means the Keruvim which Shlomo ha'Melech made and placed next
to the Aron on each side; the Gemara is not referring to the Keruvim which
were placed on top of the Aron and which were part of the Kapores itself.
Why does Rashi limit the Gemara's statement to the Keruvim of Shlomo that
stood next to the Aron? It is clear from the Gemara (21b, 52b) that the
Keruvim of the Kapores also were not there at the time of the second Beis
ha'Mikdash (52b, 21b)! Why then does Rashi say that the Gemara is referring
only to the Keruvim of Shlomo? (HAGAHOS YA'AVETZ)
ANSWER: RAV YEHUDAH LANDY Shlita (Telzstone, Israel) answers this question
by first introducing another question on the Gemara. The MAHARSHA
(Chidushei Agados) asks that the Gemara in our Sugya just finished
discussing whether it is permitted to see the Aron inside the Kodesh
Ha'Kodashim or not. The Gemara concluded that in the times of the first
Beis ha'Mikdash it was permitted, but in the times of the Mishkan and the
second Beis ha'Mikdash it was not permitted to see the Aron, because the
people at that time did not achieve the same closeness with Hashem. Why,
then, is the Gemara questioning whether Rav Katina's statement was said
with regard to the first Beis ha'Mikdash or the second? He is clearly not
referring to the second Beis ha'Mikdash, because they were not allowed to
roll back the Paroches to see the Aron in the second Beis ha'Mikdashı! The
Maharsha leaves this question unanswered.
Rav Landy explains that Rashi was addressing this question. Rashi means
that there certainly was no Aron and no Kapores in the second Beis
ha'Midkash (as the Gemara earlier said), and the Gemara knew that when it
suggested that Rav Katina might be referring to the second Beis ha'Mikdash.
If there was no Aron, though, then what would they be showing the Jewish
people by rolling back the Paroches? Rashi explains that the Gemara thought
they were showing the Keruvim of Shlomo ha'Melech to the people, and it is
permissible to see those Keruvim even during the times of the second Beis
ha'Mikdash (just like it is permitted to see the Keruvim drawn upon the
wall, as the Gemara says in its conclusion -- see GEVURAS ARI). The Gemara
rejects this suggestion, though, because even the Keruvim of Shlomo were
not present in the second Beis ha'Mikdash.
Rav Landy's explanation will help us gain insight into Rashi's comments on
the next Amud (54b). The Gemara said that at the time of the Churban of the
first Beis ha'Mikdash, the gentiles came into the Heichal and took the
Keruvim which were embracing each other out into the public area in order
to disgrace the Jewish people. Rashi says that they took out the Keruvim
that were drawn on the walls by peeling them off of the walls. How did
Rashi know that the Keruvim to which the Gemara refers were those that were
drawn on the walls? Perhaps they were the Keruvim on the Kapores, or the
Keruvim of Shlomo that stood next to the Aron?
The SI'ACH YITZCHAK explains that it could not have been the Keruvim on the
Kapores that they took out, because the Gemara (52b) said that Yoshiyahu
hid away the Kapores along with the Keruvim years before the Churban. If
so, the gentiles must have taken out other Keruvim. However, the Si'ach
Yitzchak does not explain why we do not simply say that it was the Keruvim
of Shlomo ha'Melech which they took out, which also faced each other. The
answer might be that according to Rav Landy's explanation, the Gemara (54a)
stated unequivocally that the Keruvim of Shlomo were not there in the
second Beis ha'Mikdash. Why is it so clear to the Gemara that it cannot
even be suggested that the Keruvim of Shlomo were there in the second Beis
ha'Mikdash? The answer is that the Keruvim of Shlomo were made only to
serve the Aron, and therefore they were considered part of the Aron. When
Yoshiyahu hid away the Aron, he also hid away those Keruvim with it, just
as he hid all the other contents of the Kodesh ha'Kodashim (Gemara, 52b).
The only Keruvim left for the enemies to display at the time of the Churban
were the ones on the walls.
This might be what the Gemara means earlier when it says that in the second
Beis ha'Mikdash there was "no Aron, Kapores, and Keruvim." It lists Kapores
and Keruvim separately, because the "Kapores" refers to the actual Kapores
and the Keruvim on top of it, while the "Keruvim" refer to those of Shlomo.
2) THE EMBRACE OF THE KERUVIM
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that when the gentiles came into the Heichal
at the time of the Churban Beis ha'Mikdash, they found the Keruvim
embracing each other. They brought the Keruvim into the public area and
announced, "How shameful are the Jewish people to have such obscene forms
in their most holy place."
3) YERUSHALAYIM IS THE CENTER OF THE WORLD
The Gemara in Bava Basra (99a) relates that the Keruvim would face each
other, miraculously, at a time when the Jewish people were doing the will
of the Almighty. The Keruvim would turn away from each other when the
Jewish people were not doing the will of the Almighty. At the time of the
Churban, it was obvious that the Jews were not doing Hashem's will. If so,
the Keruvim should have been facing away from each other! Why, then, were
they found to be embracing? (RITVA, in the name of the RI MI'GASH)
(a) The RITVA quotes some who answer that the Keruvim discussed in the
Gemara in Bava Basra are those of the Kapores and of Shlomo ha'Melech.
Those Keruvim changed positions depending on the behavior of the Jewish
people (Divrei ha'Yamim II 3:13). The Keruvim which were found embracing
each other at the time of the Churban, on the other hand, were those that
were drawn upon the walls, which never changed position. (If so, how did
the Keruvim on the wall display the love of Hashem for His people, and why
would they roll back the Paroches to display them (RITVA)? They showed
Hashem's *earlier* love for the people, since Hashem ordered them to
originally be drawn facing each other (SI'ACH YITZCHAK).)
(b) The RI MI'GASH (cited by the Ritva here, and the SHITAH MEKUBETZES in
Bava Basra 99a) answers that the reason for the miracle that the Keruvim
faced each other when the Jews were doing the will of Hashem was in order
to show how much Hashem loved His people. Just like that miracle served a
purpose, so, too, the miracle that they faced each other at the time of the
Churban served a purpose. What was the purpose of that miracle? It was
either to show the enemy how beloved the Jewish people *used* to be to
Hashem, or it was done so that the gentiles -- when they saw the Keruvim
embracing in the holiest place -- would disgrace the Jews.
RAV CHAIM SHMUELEVITZ says, similarly, that this miracle was done for the
good of the Bnei Yisrael. Only when Hashem had donned Himself with His
attributes of immense grace and love for His people did He give reign to
the Midas ha'Din to destroy the Beis ha'Mikdash. As the Midrash says, the
Churban involved an element of mercy, letting the anger of Hashem vent on
the Mikdash so that the people should not be destroyed (Midrash Eichah
4:14, cited by Tosfos in Kidushin 31a).
(b) The IMREI PINCHAS (Koritzer) says that the Jewish people did Teshuvah
at the moment of the Churban and thus they merited to be considered doing
the will of Hashem at that moment.
QUESTION: The Gemara cites a Beraisa in which there is a dispute concerning
how the world was created. Rebbi Eliezer says that the world was created
from its center, going outward. Rebbi Yehudah says that the world was
created from its sides, going inward. The Chachamim say that the world was
created from Zion. This implies that Zion is not the center of the world.
However, we know that Zion is the center of the world, as the Midrash
states (Midrash Tanchuma Kedoshim 10). It is unlikely to say the Midrash is
only expressing the opinion of Rebbi Eliezer and not that of the Chachamim.
ANSWER: The MAHARSHA answers that the Chachamim are explaining Rebbi
Eliezer, and adding that the world was created from its center -- which is
(Regarding how the world -- which is round -- can have a "center" at any
given point on its surface, see MAHARAL, Be'er ha'Golah, Be'er Shishi.)