Talmud Tips

For the week ending 28 December 2013 / 25 Tevet 5774

Yoma 51 - 57

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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“When the Jewish People did the will of G-d, the keruvim (“cherubs” in the Holy of Holies) faced each other; but when the Jewish People did not do the will of G-d, the keruvim faced away from each other.

This teaching is found in Bava Batra 99a and seems to contradict what we learn on our current daf. Here we are taught that when the pagans destroyed the first Beit Hamikdash they brought out the keruvim from the Holy of Holies in an attempt to show that the Jewish People had been worshipping these idols.

However, our gemara seems to run counter to the gemara in Bava Batra since here at the time of the destruction the keruvim were found embracing and facing each other — a sign of the Jewish People fulfilling the word of G-d. But the destruction was a punishment for them not fulfilling His will! Numerous answers are offered by the Rishonim and Achronim. One is that when the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed the Jewish People sincerely took to heart that they needed to repent and return to the way of G-d — and they did.

  • Yoma 54b

“Come see what is written about the Jewish People: ‘G-d dwells with the Jewish People in the midst of their tumah (defilement, ritual impurity and transgressions)’.”

Rabbi Chanina states this on our daf in rebuttal to a claim by a tzeduki heretic that G-d does not dwell with the Jewish People when they are in such a downfallen state of tumah. He cites Vayika 16:16 as proof that G-d continues to dwell amongst with the Jewish People even then.

  • Yoma 57a

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