Talmud Navigator

For the week ending 2 November 2013 / 29 Heshvan 5774

Shekalim 16 - 22

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

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  • Who hid the Holy Ark and what else was concealed
  • How the sacred anointment oil was prepared
  • Anointment of king and kohen gadol
  • What the Holy Ark contained and what was written on the Tablets
  • The bowing done in the Beit Hamikdash
  • The waters which will flow from Beit Hamikdash of the future
  • Returning the keys and jumping from the roof
  • The tables and the menorahs in the Beit Hamikdash
  • The 13 shofar-shaped collection boxes – for what purposes
  • How much was required of one who made a pledge with no sum
  • How many collection boxes did the king make
  • Coins found between the shofar-shaped collection boxes
  • Money or meat found and no certainty of its status
  • The Sage Rav and the meat lost and found
  • A lost animal or slaughtering knife found in the environs of Yerushalayim
  • The special flour-offering of the kohen gadol and what happens when he dies
  • If saliva found in Yerushalayim must be suspected of coming from a ritually impure source
  • The status of blood from carcasses of animals who did not die through proper slaughter
  • The parochet curtain, how it was made and how it was immersed for ritual purification
  • Which sacrifice takes priority, that of Shabbat or Rosh Chodesh
  • The problem of sanctifying objects when there is no Beit Hamikdash

Failed “Raider” of the Lost Ark

  • Shekalim 16a

One of the boldest decisions in Jewish history was made by King Yoshiahu in the waning year of the first Beit Hamikdash. Upon the opening and reading of a long-lost Sefer Torah the message that struck him was the grim warning that because of Israel’s sins “G-d will take you and the king you have appointed to a nation who you and your ancestors never knew” (Devarim 28:36). He then turned to the Levites and instructed them to store the Holy Ark in a secret subterranean chamber so that it would not fall into the hands of the enemy who would eventually destroy the Beit Hamikdash and take the people into exile.

The Mishna relates that the hiding place of the lost Ark was almost discovered during the period of the second Beit Hamikdash, which functioned without a Holy Ark. A kohen who was relaxing from his labors noticed that one of the marble slabs on the floor in his area was not exactly even with the rest. He rushed to share this discovery with a colleague but died before he could finish his story. It was assumed by all that the variation he alone had noticed marked the site where the Holy Ark was concealed. Another discovery was made in the area where kohanim disqualified from sacrificial service because of some physical flaw were busy chopping wood for the altar and removing the worms from the logs. The ax of one of them fell to the floor and was immediately consumed by a fire that came up from under the floor. The conclusion was that this marked the site of the hidden Ark.

It is interesting to note that despite these discoveries no effort was made to conduct an archeological excavation to retrieve the Ark. This was probably because prophecy had revealed to them that the Ark, along with four other sacred elements, would not be present in the second Beit Hamikdash so that the failed “raiding” of the Holy Ark was submission to the will of G-d.

What the Sages Say

“The Torah that G-d gave to Moshe was white fire into which black fire was etched, fire blended with fire, fire extracted from fire and given in fire.”

  • Rabbi Pinchas quoting Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish
    Shekalim 16b

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