Talmud Tips

For the week ending 20 November 2021 / 16 Kislev 5782

Rosh Hashana 30 - 35

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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Who Will Build the Mikdash?

“At first, the lulav was taken (for the mitzvah) in the Mikdash for seven days, and in the Medina for one day. After the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai decreed that the lulav be taken for seven days also in the Medina, in memory of the Mikdash; and he also decreed that the entire day of waving is completely forbidden.”

The mishna on our daf commences with this teaching, and Rabbi Yochanan in the gemara derives the concept of doing something as a “zecher laMikdash” — in memory of the Mikdash — from a verse in the prophecy of Yirmiyahu (30:17).

Regarding the first halacha in the mishna, what exact places are meant by “Mikdash” and “Medina”? One opinion is that Mikdash is the Beit Hamikdash, whereas Medina is Jerusalem and other places outside the actual Beit Hamikdash (Rashi). Another opinion is that Mikdash refers to all of Jerusalem, while Medina refers to outside of Jerusalem (Rambam). The definition of these two terms may have implications as to whether one is fulfilling a Torah mitzvah or a rabbinical one in the place one is located after the first day of Succot.

The next halacha in the mishna teaches that Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai also decreed that the entire day of waving is completely forbidden, as a zecher laMikdash. This halacha refers to when the earliest time the new crop of grain in the Land of Israel may be eaten each year. This halacha is called chadash, meaning “new.” Two statements in the Torah address this issue but appear to be contradictory. The first part of one verse states that chadash is permitted right away on the sixteenth of Nisan when there is first light in the eastern sky (“ad etzem hayom hazeh”). But the latter part of the same verse states that chadash is permitted only after the omer offering is brought in the Beit Hamikdash (“ad haviachem et korban”). (Vayikra 23:14)

The gemara in Menachot reconciles and explains both parts of this verse. When there is no Beit Hamikdash and the omer offering can therefore not be brought, chadash is permitted from the very beginning of the day. However, when there is a Beit Hamikdash, chadash is permitted only after the omer offering has taken place in the Beit Hamikdash. A mishna elsewhere in Shas teaches that people who live far from the Beit Hamikdash and do not know exactly when the omer was brought in the Beit Hamikdash may eat chadash from noontime (chatzot hayom), since the authority responsible for ensuring that the omer be brought as soon as possible is “not lazy” regarding their responsibilities.

Our sugya engages in a discussion of why Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai enacted a ban on chadash after the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash for the entirety of the sixteenth of Nisan and not from chatzot — which is the latest time that we find in the Torah. The gemara explains that he was mindful and eagerly waiting for the Beit Hamikdash to be built very, very soon, and was concerned that people would eat chadash from the time they remembered that it was permitted on the previous year — which could result in transgressing the prohibition against eating chadash.

When exactly, asks the gemara, was a time the Beit Hamikdash would be built that would be cause for alarm that the ban against early eating of chadash would be transgressed? The conclusion of the gemara is that these times are late on the fifteenth of Nisan, close to sunset, or alternatively during the night between the fifteenth of Nisan and the morning of the sixteenth of Nisan. In these cases there would be insufficient time to complete all the steps necessary for bringing the omer until the end of the day of the sixteenth of Nisan — thereby permitting chadash only from the seventeenth onward. For this reason he banned chadash for the entire day of the sixteenth.

However, before the gemara reached this conclusion, it suggested other dates when the Beit Hamikdash might be built that could pose a “stumbling block” for eating chadash before the permitted time. One of these dates is the fifteenth of Nisan (i.e. the first day of the Yom Tov of Pesach). Rashi asks: “How could the gemara suggest that the Beit Hamikdash would be built on Yom Tov or during the night between Yom Tov and the sixteenth? We have been taught elsewhere in Shas (Shavuot 16b) that the building of the Beit Hamikdash cannot take place on Yom Tov and also not during the night!” Rashi answers that building prohibited on Yom Tov and at night is when the building is done by human hands. The future Beit Hamikdash, however, will come “from the Hands of Heaven.” This is also the opinion of Tosefot in Masechet Succah which agrees with this explanation of Rashi, and both Rashi and Tosefot bring a proof from the verse in Shemot 15:17 which states, “Mikdash Hashem Konenu Yadecha — the Sanctuary, Hashem, that Your hands established.” (For further study of this topic, see the Rambam in Mishneh Torah who seems to disagree with the view of Rashi and Tosefot, and the manner in which Rav Yechiel Michal Tuchazinsky, in his work called Ir HaKodesh V’Hamikdash, offers a novel interpretation that combines the seemingly varying views).

  • Rosh Hashana 30a

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