Weekly Daf #301

The Color of HeavenArtscroll

The Weekly Daf by Rav Mendel Weinbach

Chagiga 11 - 17 Issue #301
Week of 6 - 12 Kislev 5760 / 15 - 21 November 1999


This publication is also available in the following formats: [Text] [Word] [PDF] Explanation of these symbols


Sacrifices Made in Heaven

One of the “Seven Heavens,” says Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish, is called “Zevul,” and it contains the Heavenly counterpart of Jerusalem and the Beit Hamikdash. There, too, is an altar upon which the Malach (angel) Michael offers a daily sacrifice.

The obvious question which arises is what does he offer on this altar, as there are no animals in Heaven? In his footnotes (and this appears in parenthesis in the Ein Yaakov) the Bach adds this question to the text, as well as an answer. The answer is also found in a Tosefot in Mesechta Menachot (110a). Tosefot cites conflicting midrashim as to the nature of these sacrifices. One states that the Malach offers the souls of the tzaddikim (righteous) upon this altar, and another states that the sacrifices are of fire in animal form.

It is the first midrash above, the one regarding the souls of the righteous, which appears in the aforementioned Bach and Ein Yaakov. And this answer is presented by Tosefot as an explanation of the prayer we say three times a day: “Accept willingly,” we ask of Hashem, “Your people Israel and hearken to their prayer; return the sacred service to Your sanctuary and the fire offerings of Israel accept with favor.” How can we ask Hashem to accept the fire offerings of Israel when there is no Beit Hamikdash today in which to offer sacrifices? According to the midrash, the phrase “ishei Yisrael” does not translate as the “fire offerings of Israel” but rather the “men of Israel” — the tzaddikim whose souls are offered before Hashem.

Tosefot notes, however, that there is another opinion which translates these words literally as sacrifices, and views them as an extension of the request that Hashem return the sacred service to His sanctuary. Our prayer thus is that Hashem restore our ability to offer actual sacrifices. The Tur (Orach Chaim 187) presents a third opinion: We ask Hashem to accept our prayers which we offer in place of sacrifices.

The Mishna Berura (Orach Chaim 120) quotes the opinion of the Turei Zahav as favoring the first approach, about the souls of tzaddikim, and also quotes the Gaon of Vilna as expressing a preference for the second one, that it is a request for the return of the sacrificial service here on earth.

(Chagiga 12b)


Between Angel and Animal

Six things have been said about Man, say our Sages; in three of them he is similar to the malachim (angels) and in three he is like an animal.

People are like the malachim in that they have intelligence, they walk upright and they speak the Holy Tongue of Hebrew. People are like animals in that they eat and drink, they multiply, and they expel wastes from their bodies.

The midrash (Bereishet Rabbah 8) adds one more comparison to each. Men see like the malachim and perish like animals. Why are these comparisons not listed by our gemara?

The comparison of sight does not present such a problem because an animal has the power of sight as well. But why is the comparison of man and animal regarding death ignored?

Two answers are found in the commentaries. Rif suggests that the gemara is referring to the initial creation of Man, before Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge and brought death to the world. Iyun Yaakov explains that although both man and animal have limited existence in this world, the cause of their respective deaths is not the same. Man dies as a result of his sins, while the animal dies because Hashem has so programmed its existence.

(Chagiga 16a)

General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
Production Design: Eli Ballon

© 1999 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved. This publication may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue newsletters. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission, and then send us a sample issue.


This publication is available via E-Mail


Ohr Somayach Institutions is an international network of Yeshivot and outreach centers, with branches in North America, Europe, South Africa and South America. The Central Campus in Jerusalem provides a full range of educational services for over 685 full-time students.

The Jewish Learning Exchange (JLE) of Ohr Somayach offers summer and winter programs in Israel that attract hundreds of university students from around the world for 3 to 8 weeks of study and touring.

Ohr Somayach is hosted by TeamGenesis


Copyright © 1999 Ohr Somayach International. Send us feedback.
Dedication opportunities are available for Weekly Daf. Please contact us for details.
Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) and your donation is tax deductable.