TalmuDigest

For the week ending 22 August 2009 / 1 Elul 5769

Bava Batra 2 - 8

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • Protecting privacy by putting a wall between neighbors
  • Building materials for that wall
  • Destroying a synagogue in order to build a new one
  • Herod and the Sage Bava ben Buta
  • The need for a wall in a garden or valley
  • Exterior walls and interior ones
  • Dispute over whether debt was paid
  • Rights acquired as a result of unprotested continued use
  • Protecting against being seen from a neighbor's roof
  • Dividing inherited property
  • Individual's responsibility to share expenses of community
  • Which expenses are not imposed on a Torah Sage
  • Priorities in support from communal charity fund
  • How charity is collected and distributed

Comparing Two Temples

Why was there a wall between the Kodesh and the Kodesh HaKodoshim (Holy and Holy of Holies) in the first Beit Hamikdash and only curtains to separate them in the second one?

The answer given in our gemara is that since that wall could not be thicker than one amah (cubit), the greater height of the ceiling in the second Beit Hamikdash made it impossible for such a thin wall to stand.

As proof that the ceiling was higher this passage is cited:

"Greater will be the glory of this house than that of the first one." (Chagai 2:9)

One interpretation of this prophecy is that it will be a larger structure (a hundred amot high – Rashi).

This commentary of Rashi is challenged in a footnote of Rabbi Yoel Sirkes (commonly known as "BaCH" – abbreviation of his classic Bayit Chadash). He calls attention to the fact that the total height of the first Beit Hamikdash was actually 120 amot, 20 more than the total height of the second. How then could the second one be described as being "greater"?

His resolution is that the ceiling of the area of the lower level holy area (Heichal) was 30 amot high while it was 40 amot high in the second, thus making it impossible to erect a thin wall as a separation.

(This approach may incidentally explain why those who remembered the first Beit Hamikdah wept when they saw the lower structure of the second as described in Ezra 3:12.)

What the Sages Say

"You extinguished the light of the world so you must do something for the light of the world."

  • The Sage Bava ben Buta advising Herod to atone for slaying Torah Sages by renovating the Beit Hamikdash. - Bava Batra 4a

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