INSIGHTS INTO THE DAILY DAF
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prepared by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Yerushalayim
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
1) THE KERUVIM IN THE SECOND BEIS HA'MIKDASH
QUESTION: Rav Katina states that on each of the three festivals, the Kohanim would pull back the Paroches so that the Jewish people would be able to see the Keruvim as they embraced each other in a display of Hash-m's love for His people. The Gemara asks in which Beis ha'Mikdash was this done? It could not have been in the first Beis ha'Mikdash, because the Kodesh ha'Kodashim was not partitioned by a Paroches there, but rather by a wall (the "Amah Traksin"). It could not have been in the second Beis ha'Mikdash, because there were no Keruvim in the second Beis ha'Mikdash.
RASHI (DH Mi Havu) explains that when the Gemara says there were no Keruvim in the second Beis ha'Mikdash, it refers to the Keruvim which Shlomo ha'Melech made and placed at each side of the Aron ha'Kodesh. There were, however, Keruvim atop the Aron ha'Kodesh. Those Keruvim were part of the Kapores (the cover of the Aron) itself.
Rashi's comments are difficult to understand. It is clear from the Gemara (21b, 52b) that the Keruvim of the Kapores also were not present in the second Beis ha'Mikdash. Why does Rashi say that the Gemara refers only to the Keruvim of Shlomo ha'Melech when it says that there were no Keruvim in the second Beis ha'Mikdash? (YA'AVETZ)
ANSWER: RAV YEHUDAH LANDY shlit'a (of Telzstone, Israel) proposes the following answer to this question. The MAHARSHA (Chidushei Agados) asks that the Gemara earlier discusses whether or not one is permitted to see the Aron ha'Kodesh inside the Kodesh ha'Kodashim. The Gemara concludes that in the times of the first Beis ha'Mikdash one was permitted to see the Aron, but in the times of the Mishkan and in the times of the second Beis ha'Mikdash one was not permitted to see the Aron, because the people during those times had not achieved the requisite degree of closeness with Hash-m. Why, then, does the Gemara question whether Rav Katina's statement refers to the first Beis ha'Mikdash or to the second? His statement clearly does not refer to the second Beis ha'Mikdash, because the Kohanim were not permitted to roll back the Paroches to show the Aron in the second Beis ha'Mikdash. The Maharsha leaves this question unanswered.
Rav Landy explains that Rashi addresses this question. When Rashi says that the Keruvim of Shlomo ha'Melech were not present in the second Beis ha'Mikdash, he means that there was also no Aron and no Kapores there (as the Gemara earlier says). The Gemara itself knew that there was no Aron and Kapores there when it suggested that Rav Katina's statement refers to the second Beis ha'Mikdash. However, if there was no Aron, then why did the Kohanim pull back the Paroches? What were they showing to the Jewish people?
Rashi explains that the Gemara thought that perhaps the Kohanim were showing the Keruvim of Shlomo ha'Melech to the people, and that they were permitted to see those Keruvim even during the times of the second Beis ha'Mikdash (just as one may look at the Keruvim drawn upon the wall, as the Gemara concludes; see GEVURAS ARI). The Gemara rejects this suggestion, because even the Keruvim of Shlomo ha'Melech were not present in the second Beis ha'Mikdash.
Rav Landy's explanation also sheds light on Rashi's comments later (54b). The Gemara relates that at the time of the destruction of the first Beis ha'Mikdash, the Nochrim entered the Heichal and found the Keruvim embracing each other. They brought the Keruvim out to the public area in order to show everyone that the Jews themselves worshipped idols. Rashi explains that the Nochrim peeled off the images of the Keruvim that were drawn on the walls and showed those images to the people. Why does Rashi explain that the Nochrim brought out the images of the Keruvim that were drawn on the walls, and not the real Keruvim that were on the Kapores, or the Keruvim of Shlomo ha'Melech that stood next to the Aron?
The SI'ACH YITZCHAK points out that the Nochrim could not have taken out the Keruvim on the Kapores, because the Gemara earlier (52b) says that Yoshiyahu hid the Kapores along with the Keruvim years before the Churban. The Si'ach Yitzchak says that the Nochrim must have taken out other Keruvim. However, how does he know that the Keruvim that they took out were not the Keruvim of Shlomo ha'Melech?
According to Rav Landy's explanation, the Gemara (54a) explicitly states that the Keruvim of Shlomo ha'Melech were not present in the second Beis ha'Mikdash. Why is the Gemara so certain that the Keruvim of Shlomo ha'Melech were not present in the second Beis ha'Mikdash? The answer is that the Keruvim of Shlomo ha'Melech were made only to serve the Aron, and thus they were considered part of the Aron. When Yoshiyahu hid the Aron, he also hid Shlomo's Keruvim with it, just as he hid all the other contents of the Kodesh ha'Kodashim (52b). The only Keruvim left for the enemies to display at the time of the Churban were the ones drawn on the walls.
Perhaps this is the intention of the Gemara earlier when it says that in the second Beis ha'Mikdash there were "no Aron, Kapores, and Keruvim." It lists Kapores and Keruvim separately because the "Kapores" refers to the actual Kapores and the Keruvim on top of it, while the "Keruvim" refer to those of Shlomo ha'Melech.
2) THE EMBRACE OF THE KERUVIM
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that at the time of the destruction of the first Beis ha'Mikdash, the Nochrim entered the Heichal and found the Keruvim embracing each other. They brought the Keruvim out to the public area in order to show everyone that the Jews themselves worshipped idols.
The Gemara in Bava Basra (99a) relates that when the Jewish people fulfilled the will of the Almighty, the Keruvim miraculously faced each other. When the Jewish people did not fulfill the will of the Almighty, the Keruvim turned away from each other.
The nation was punished with the destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash because of their failure to repent and follow the will of Hash-m. Why, then, at the time of the destruction were the Keruvim facing each other and embracing? They should have been facing away from each other in a display of Hash-m's discontent with the nation. (RITVA, in the name of the RI MI'GASH)
(a) The RITVA quotes those who answer that the Gemara in Bava Basra refers to the Keruvim on the Kapores and the Keruvim of Shlomo ha'Melech (see Divrei ha'Yamim II 3:13). The positioning of those sets of Keruvim depended on the conduct of the Jewish people. The Keruvim that were embracing each other at the time of the Churban were the Keruvim drawn upon the walls (which the Gemara here mentions), whose position never changed even when the Jews sinned.
Why, though, does the Gemara here say that the Keruvim on the wall displayed the love of Hash-m for His people, and why would they roll back the Paroches to display them during the festival (Ritva)? The SI'ACH YITZCHAK answers that the Keruvim drawn on the wall showed Hash-m's earlier love for the people, since Hash-m originally instructed that they be drawn facing each other.
(b) The RI MI'GASH (cited by the Ritva here and by the SHITAH MEKUBETZES in Bava Basra 99a) answers that Hash-m caused the Keruvim in the Beis ha'Mikdash to face each other when the Jews fulfilled the will of Hash-m in order to show His love for the Jewish people. Just as that miracle served a purpose, the miracle of the Keruvim's embrace at the time of the Churban also served a purpose. The Ri mi'Gash writes that it was either to show the enemy how beloved the Jewish people used to be to Hash-m, or to give the enemy an opportunity to disgrace the Jews.
(c) RAV CHAIM SHMUELEVITZ zt'l suggests that the embrace of the Keruvim at the time of the Churban actually showed Hash-m's love for His people as it usually did. The Keruvim's embrace showed the Jewish people that only after Hash-m aroused His profound love for the Jewish people did He empower His attribute of justice to destroy the Beis ha'Mikdash. The Midrash says that the destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash was a manifestation of Hash-m's mercy, for He vented His wrath on an inanimate building and thereby spared the people (Eichah Rabah 4:14, cited by Tosfos to Kidushin 31a).
(b) The KORITZER REBBE in IMREI PINCHAS says that the Jewish people repented at the moment of the Churban. At that moment they were fulfilling the will of Hash-m, and therefore the Keruvim embraced.