Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tu B'Av: A Qoton Qlassic

Here is a short selection from my Qoton Qlassic essay about Tu B'Av regarding the relationship between Tu B'Av and Rosh HaShannah:

Rabbi Zvi Elimelech Shapiro of Dinov (1783-1841) explains the Kabbalistic
significance of the holiday of Tu B'Av. The Talmud writes that forty days before one's embryo is formed, Heaven declares who his future spouse will be. In Tractate Rosh HaShana, a dispute is discussed at great length between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua. Rabbi Eliezer maintains that Adam was created on the first of Tishrei. Adam was created on the sixth day of creation; therefore, the world was created on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Elul. Forty days before the creation of the world, the day on which all spouses must have been divinely declared was the
fifteenth of Av. This is the cause of the celebration of Tu b'Av and its links
to marriage and matchmaking. It is from the day of Tu B'Av, that it is customary
to begin using the New Years greetings to fellow Jews in anticipation of Rosh
HaShannah, the first of Tishrei.

Continue Reading This Qoton Qlassic...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Scroll of Lamentations

In listing the twenty-four books of the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud refers[1] a book called Kinos "Lamentations" or Megillas Kinos "The Scroll of Lamentations"[2], written by the prophet Jeremiah. Scripture tells that when Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple therein, he was scorned by the people around him. HaShem commanded the prophet Jeremiah to record all of his visions about a desolate Jerusalem in a scroll. After transcribing the prophecies concerning the future of Jerusalem through his student Baruch, Jeremiah's scroll was delivered to the King of Judah, Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim's reaction was to burn the scroll, which foretold the annihilation of Jerusalem[3]. The opening verse of this book rhetorically asks about the destroyed city of Jerusalem, "How does she sit alone?[4]"

The popular name for the Scroll of Lamentations is Eicha, "How", named for the first word of the scroll. Why, in the popular vernacular, is the book referred to as Eicha, if the Talmud refer to the book of Lamentations as Kinos? The Midrash says[5] that the book of Lamentations opens with the word Eicha because the numerical value of that word is thirty-six; the Mishnah teaches[6] that there are thirty-six transgressions, which are punishable with Kares, spiritual excision. Furthermore, the Midrash says that the letters in the word Eicha allude to the uniqueness of HaShem, the Ten Commandments, the twenty generations from Adam until Abraham when the commandment of circumcision was first commanded, and the Five Books of Moses, which the masses denied, resulting in HaShem destroying the Holy Temple and Jerusalem[7]. Similarly, the Talmud teaches[8] that the book of Lamentations starts with the word Eicha and continues in an acrostic-style poem with each stanza beginning with a sequential letter in the Hebrew alphabet because the Jews transgressed every sin from Aleph through Tav. According to these understandings, one can explain that the purpose of retaining the book of Lamentations for generations is to serve as a reminder as to what destructive powers lie in the severity of a sin. The book serves as a means to arouse feelings of repentance for future generations. In order to achieve this effect, one must stress the word Eicha at the beginning of the book. Therefore, the colloquial speech of the masses styles the book Eicha not Megillas Kinos, in order to stress the effects of the word Eicha.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchack of Berditchev (1740-1809) said[9] that after the arrival of the Messiah, the book of Eicha will still be read. Why should the book that laments the destruction of the Holy Temple and Jerusalem be read even during the Messianic Era, when the Temple and city will have already been rebuilt? The Berditchever explains that it will be read with the opposite tone as it is read during the exile. He explains that when asking about Jerusalem "How does she sit alone?", one will not mean to ask in mourning "what sins caused the city of Jerusalem to lie barren", rather one will intend to ask the opposite, "what sins could have possibly caused the city of Jerusalem to lie deserted if it is now so vibrant and jovial." Thus, the Book of Lamentations contains a dual meaning, it not only serves as a book lamenting the unfortunate annihilation of Jerusalem, but it also serves as a source of hope for a time when the destruction of Jerusalem will seem so unfeasible. The former purpose of the book is represented in its name Megillas Kinos, while the latter purpose of the book is reflected in the popular name, Eicha. By calling the book Eicha, not Megillas Kinos, the masses are optimistically waiting for arrival of the Messiah who shall herald the building of the Holy Temple, speedily and in our days: Amen.
[1] Bava Basra 14b
[2] See Jerusalemic Shabbos 16:1
[3] See Jeremiah Chapter 36
[4] Lamentations 1:1
[5] Lamentations Rabbah §1:1
[6] Kerisos 2a
[7] The letters of Eicha are: Aleph, Yud, Chaf, Hey. Aleph equals one and thus alludes to the oneness of HaShem; Yud equals ten, the Decalogue; Chaf equals twenty, the twenty generations; and Hey equals five, the Pentateuch.
[8] Sanhedrin 104b
[9] [I've heard this in his name, but I cannot find the source]

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sitting in the Courtyard

The Talmud maintains a rule in many locations[1] that one is not allowed to sit in the courtyard of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. In most points of reference to this law, the Talmud then proceeds to explain that a king of the House of David is allowed to sit in the Temple courtyard. Rabbi Yissachar Ber Eilenberg (1570-1623) writes[2] that in the Jerusalemic Talmud[3] there is an opinion who understood that even a Davidic king is not allowed to sit in the Temple Courtyard. This opinion is stated by Rav Ami the Jerusalemic Talmud in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish. However, the Amudei Yerushalayim asks how Rav Ami can say such a thing in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish, if he also said in his name[4] that the law is that one cannot sit in the courtyard except in the place of the kings of David. This second law refers to the fact that there was a throne near the courtyard designated for the Davidic kings, upon which anyone was allowed to sit[5]. The Amudei Yerushalayim answers based on the words of Rabbi Menachem Azariah of Fano (1548-1620)[6] that the prohibition barring one from sitting in the Temple's courtyard is only in the future in the Third Holy Temple, but until then one is permitted to sit in the Courtyard[7]. The Jerusalemic Talmud records an opinion that even if a Davidic King is not allowed to sit in the courtyard, the Kohen Gadol is surely allowed to sit there[8] because the Torah explicitly mentions Eli the Kohen Gadol sat there[9].

Rabbi Yehuda Roseannes (1657-1727) was unsure whether the prohibition that bans sitting in the courtyard is rabbinic or Biblical[10] in its origin. Rabbi Roseannes writes that the prohibition cannot be merely rabbinical in its origin because the Talmud used the existence of this prohibition to prove[11] that the prophet Samuel did not literally sleep in the Temple as a lad. Had the prohibition been merely rabbinic, it is not necessarily true that the rabbis had already decreed this prohibition in the times of Samuel. However, Rabbi Roseannes asks that if the prohibition is indeed biblical in origin, then the Mishnah[12] should have listed that the Temple's courtyard has a higher degree of sanctity as it listed all the other places in ascending order of their holiness. Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein (1829-1907) writes[13] that the prohibition is not biblical because then there is no rationalization for it not to apply to Davidic Kings, nor is it rabbinic because then the Talmud would not have been able to prove that Samuel did not literally sleep in the Holy Temple complex. Rather, he writes that the prohibition is in a quasi-rabbinical, quasi-biblical state, for it was a rabbinical law (Divrei Kabbalah) instituted by Moses in an effort to show honor to the future kings of Israel. Indeed, Rabbi Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik (1886-1959) wrote[14] that one who sat in the courtyard was considered rebelling against the king and could justifiably be given the death penalty for treason.

Maimonides writes[15] that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is an extension of the biblical commandment of "Fear my Sanctuary"[16]; Rabbi Moshe ben Yoseph of Trani (1505-1585)[17] and Rabbi Yosef Babad (1801-1874)[18] also write that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is an extension of that biblical precept. If the prohibition is biblical, then why did the Mishnah in Tractate Keilim not lost the higher sanctity of the Temple courtyard? Rabbi Yehoshua Yosef HaKohen of Mard, Poland writes[19] that even if the prohibition stems biblically from the commandment about fearing the sanctuary, the root of the prohibition is not the sanctity of the courtyard in the Holy Temple, rather it is the honor of HaShem, which is slighted should one sit in the courtyard[20]. Rabbi Meir Simcha HaKohen of Dvinsk (1843-1926) writes[21] that according to Maimonides, even a Kohen Gadol is not allowed to sit in the Temple courtyard. He explains that the opinion in the Midrash, which allowed the Kohen Gadol to sit there, did not mean that the Kohen Gadol is not included in the commandment of fearing the sanctuary. Rather, that opinion held that it is a greater honor for Heaven to allow the Kohen Gadol, who wears the Tzitz, to sit in the courtyard rather than to make him stand. These commentaries understand that Maimonides held that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is biblical, however Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488-1575) writes[22] that just as Rashi understood (see below) that the prohibition is a Masoretic tradition, so too Maimonides understood that it is a Masoretic tradition[23].

Various passages in Tosafos understand the nature of the prohibition in two different ways. In one location, the Tosafists write[24] that this prohibition is rabbinic, yet in other locations, the Tosafists seem to understand[25] that the prohibition is biblical in origin. The former Tosafos understands that although usually one is not allowed to sit in the courtyard, one is allowed to sit in the courtyard when eating the sacrificial meat of the offerings in the Holy Temple. This passage in Tosafos understands that since the prohibition is only rabbinic, the rabbis never decreed that one is not allowed to sit in the courtyard when eating from the sacrificial meat. However, the latter Tosafos understands that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is biblical and thus Tosafos required hermeneutical extractions to permit the eating of sacrificial meats while sitting in the courtyard. Tosafos explain that eating the sacrificial meats is considered part of the Temple services, and just as other components of the services are theoretically allowed to be done while sitting in the courtyard[26], so too the eating of the sacrificial meats are allowed to be done while sitting in the courtyard[27]. Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky points out[28] that a third view is espoused by another Tosafos: Piskei HaTosfos writes[29] that one is not allowed to eat the sacrificial meats while sitting in the courtyard. Accordingly, this Piskei HaTosfos understands that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is not only biblical, but it is so strong that there is never justification for sitting in the courtyard—even when eating from the sacrificial meats. Indeed, Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi ben Aryeh Leib Jolles writes[30] that the discussion of whether or not one can sit down in the Temple courtyard to partake in the sacrificial meats is dependent on whether that prohibition to sit there under normal circumstances is rabbinical or biblical.

Rashi[31] writes that the law barring one from sitting in the Temple courtyard is based on a Masoretic tradition passed down orally from generation to generation, originally given to Moses at Mount Sinai. Rabbi Elazar Landau explains[32] that although the wording of the Masoretic rule was quoted as "There is not sitting in the Courtyard except for Judean kings" in Sanhedrin 101b, that was the exact wording of the tradition until King David was chosen. After the anointment of King David, the practical application of the rule changed to the more commonly quoted "There is not sitting in the Courtyard except for kings of the House of David". Rabbi Yair Chaim Bachrach (1639-1702) lists[33] the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard in his enumeration of purely Masoretic laws. Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Chajes (1805-1855) asks[34] that if this law is purely based on a Sinaitic tradition, how can there be any arguments regarding the application of the law, everyone has to agree to it. Elsewhere, however, Rabbi Chajes writes[35] that a Masoretic law is not necessarily a law that is totally agreed upon by all, rather it is a law that its basic premise is agreed upon, but its minute details in practical applications can be disputed. Therefore, even though whether or not this prohibition applies to a Davidic King or a Kohen Gadol remains disputable, one can still consider the prohibition against a commoner, which is universally agreed upon, a Masoretic tradition. However, Rashi also writes[36] that there is a Scriptural source for the prohibition against sitting in the Temple courtyard, that is, the verse that says, "To stand and to serve"[37] concerning the services of the Holy Temple. Accordingly, Rashi does not seem to understand that the source is purely Masoretic; he learns that there is even a scriptural imperative.

Rabbi Aryeh Leib Malin (1906-1962) offers[38] a radical explanation behind the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard. He explains that there is a general prohibition of needlessly entering the courtyard of the Holy Temple, but when one enters the courtyard and stands there, then such a person is fulfilling the commandment of "To stand and to serve" because merely standing in the Temple courtyard is considered a ritual service. However, if one does not stand in the Temple courtyard, rather he sits, then his entering the Temple's courtyard was pointless and he is transgressing the prohibition of entering the courtyard in vain. Rabbi Leib Malin explains that kings of the Davidic dynasty have a special commandment to be inside the courtyard—regardless of whether they are standing or sitting[39]—so their entrance into the courtyard can never be considered in vain, even if they sit there. . With this explanation, one can answer the question of Rabbi Eilenberg who asked[40] according to Rashi that the prohibition is a Masoretic tradition, why does Rashi also need a scriptural source. This is because Reb Leib explains the seeming contradiction in Rashi who wrote in one place that the prohibition is a Masoretic tradition, yet in another place sourced the prohibition in the verse of "To stand and to serve"; the Masoretic tradition forbids entering the courtyard unnecessarily, while the verse justifies entering the courtyard to stand. Accordingly, Rabbi Malin explains that when Tosafos wrote[41] that the Kohen Gadol is allowed to sleep in the Holy Temple during the seven-day period before Yom Kippur, Tosafos is saying that just as a Davidic King has a commandment to remain inside the Holy Temple, so too the Kohen Gadol in the week preceding Yom Kippur has such a commandment. Nonetheless, Rabbi Malin does not account for the explanation of Rashi[42] who wrote that the one cannot sit in the courtyard is simply because doing so is not honoring Heaven[43].

Rabbi Shneur Kotler (1918-1982) writes[44] that every time that one is in a situation that is considered "in front of HaShem" then one is not allowed to sit. The Talmud writes[45] that the source that Davidic Kings are allowed to site in the courtyard is that the Torah says, "King David came and he sat in front of HaShem"[46]. In the time of King David, a Holy Temple did not yet exist, yet the Talmud still understood that the prohibition of sitting in the Temple courtyard still applied. How then could such a prohibition apply, if the courtyard did not yet exist? Rather, the Talmud must have understood that the prohibition does not specifically prohibit sitting the courtyard of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, rather the prohibition includes sitting in any situation where one is "in front of HaShem". Therefore, the fact that King David sat in the Tabernacle shows that all Davidic kings are allowed to sit "in front of HaShem" including in the courtyard of the Holy Temple. Rabbi Kotler writes that according to this explanation, even if the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard were biblical, the Mishnah in Tractate Keilim would not have listed this as another level of sanctity. This is because the prohibition associated with the sanctity of the courtyard is not dependent on the actual sanctity of the geographical location of the courtyard; rather, it is because the courtyard is considered "in front of HaShem." According to Rabbi Kotler, one can explain that when Moses said to the Israelites "You are all standing in front of HaShem, you G-d[47]" that Israelites had to stand because they were "in front of HaShem". Rabbi Yeshayah of Trani (1180-1250)[48] writes that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is only in the airspace of the actual courtyard, for only then is one "in front of HaShem", so he understood that the prohibition is not bound by geographical locations, rather it is dependant on whether or not one's location is "in front of HaShem".

According to the opinion cited earlier from the Midrash Shocher Tov, who learned that even Davidic Kings could not sit in the courtyard, how then did King David sit there? One can answer that there was not yet any prohibition of sitting in the courtyard because the Holy Temple was not yet built in King David's days. Alternatively, the Midrash says[49] that King David did not literally, "sit in front of HaShem" rather he "sat in prayer", meaning "engaged in prayer 'in front of HaShem'" but did not actually sit. Additionally, the Rav Chisda answers[50] that King David sat in the Women's Courtyard, not in The Courtyard of the Holy Temple. In describing the ceremony of HaQhell, the Mishnah says[51] that King Agrippa sat while reading from the biblically prescribed passages[52]. The Talmud asks[53] how the king could have sat if sitting in the courtyard is forbidden. Furthermore, even if Davidic Kings were allowed to sit in the courtyard, King Agrippa was Herodian, not Davidic, so he should not have been allowed to sit. The Talmud answers that just as Rav Chisda explained that King David did not sit in The Courtyard of the Holy Temple, rather he sat in the Women's Courtyard, so too King Agrippa did not read the ceremonial passages of the HaQhell ritual in The Courtyard, rather he read it in the Women's Courtyard, as well.

[1] Yoma 25a, Yoma 69b, Sotah 40b, Sotah 41b, Kiddushin 78b, Sanhedrin 101b, and Tamid 27b
[2] Be'er Sheva (a Tosafos-like commentary) to Tamid 27a
[3] Yoma 3:2, Pesachim 5:10, and Sotah 7:7
[4] Midrash Shocher Tov (to Psalms) §1
[5] See Mahari Katz to Midrash Shocher Tov §1
[6] Rema mi'Panu, Asara Ma'amaros, Ma'amar Im Kol Chai part 3, §10, see also Yad Yehuda ad loc.
[7] He also writes there that King Rechavam, the son of King Solomon, was supposed to be the Messiah with Jeroboam being his viceroy, but since the latter had higher aspirations, he splintered off from the Kingdom of Judah and started the Kingdom of Israel with Ten Tribes, styling himself King Jeroboam of Israel.
[8] The Midrash says (Midrash Shocher Tov to Psalms 110:1) that HaShem told Abraham, "Sit to my right." How could Abraham have sat in front of HaShem? One can answer that Abraham was a Kohen Gadol as the Midrash says elsewhere (Yalkut Shimoni to Psalms, §869). Rabbi Avraham Abele HaLevi Gombiner (1633-1683) proved (Zayis Ra'anan) that Abraham had the status of a Kohen Gadol. He explains that the Halacha is that an Onan, one whose close relative died on that die, cannot perform the services in the Holy Temple. Therefore, had Abraham slaughtered his son Issac, he would not have been able to offer his son as a sacrifice because Abraham would have had this status of a mourner for his dead son and would be barred from offering sacrifices on the altar. However, if one explains that Abraham had the status of a Kohen Gadol, who is supposed to perform the Temple services even as an Onan, then one could explain how Abraham was Halachikly supposed to offer his son Issac as a sacrifice.
[9] Samuel 1 1:9
[10] See Mishnah L'Melech to Maimonides' Laws of Beis HaBechirah 7:6
[11] Kiddushin 78b
[12] Tractate Keilim, Chapter 1
[13] Aruch HaShulchan HeUsid, Kodshim, §14:14
[14] Chiddushei HaGriz Al HaTorah (stencil) §165
[15] Sefer HaMitzvos #21
[16] Leviticus 26:2
[17] Kiryas Sefer to Maimonides' Laws of Chagigah, Chapter 3 and Laws of Beis HaBechirah, Chapter 7
[18] Minchas Chinuch #244
[19] Ezras Kohanim on tractate Middos
[20] Perhaps then, one can explain that when Elisha ben Avuyah saw Metatron sitting in Heaven and recording the deeds of Israelites, he saw that the archangel was dishonoring HaShem by sitting in front of Him (Chagigah 15a). Perhaps this is what led Acher to apostasy.
[21] Ohr Somayach to Maimonides' Laws of Kings 2:4
[22] Kesef Mishneh to Maimonides' Laws of Sanhedrin 14:12
[23] The reason why Rashi (see below) understands that the prohibition is a Masoretic tradition is that the Talmud (Sanhedrin 101b) says Gemiri before introducing the law that one is not allowed to sit in the courtyard. Rashi understands that the term Gemiri refers to a Sinaitic law. Rabbi Yosef Karo here is assuming that Maimonides follows the same understanding, however Rabbi Yisrael Lipschutz of Danzig (1782-1860) proves (Tiferes Yisroel to Yoma 2:2) that Maimonides does not understand that Gemiri means a Sinaitic law.
[24] To Zevachim 16a
[25] See Tosafos to Yoma 25a
[26] Although, usually this rule would never be applicable because most Temple services are required to be done while standing
[27] Although Tosafos only proves that eating is considered a ritual service of the Holy Temple, but does not prove that eating while sitting is, once Tosafos has proved that one is allowed to eat in the courtyard, then certainly one must be allowed to sit while eating, for eating while standing is considered a dangerous act (see Maimonides, Laws of Mental States 4:3). Alternatively, Tosafos explain that it is the way of kings to eat while sitting, so presumably only eating while seated show proper honor to HaShem while partaking from His banquet meat.
[28] Siach HaSadeh to Yoma 25a
[29] To Sotah §10
[30] Melo HaRoim, Kllalei HaShas, Ein Yeshiva B'Azara
[31] To Sanhedrin 101b
[32] Hagahos Rebbi Elazar Landau to Yoma 25a
[33] See Chavos Yair §192, Law 32
[34] Maharitz Chayes to Yoma 25a
[35] Maharitz Chajes to Bava Kamma 17b
[36] To Yoma 25a and Yoma 69b
[37] Deuteronomy 18:5
[38] Chiddushei Reb Aryeh Leib, Volume 1, §19
[39] Maimonides writes (Laws of Kings 2:4) that if a king enters the courtyard and he is of the progeny of David, he should sit. Maimonides does not say, "He is allowed to sit" rather he says, "He should sit." This implies that there is a specific commandment or purpose in a Davidic king sitting in the Temple courtyard.
[40] Be'er Sheva to Sanhedrin 101b
[41] To Yoma 8b
[42] To Sotah 40b
[43] Furthermore, according to Rabbi Leib Malin, it is difficult to explain why Rashi (to Yoma 5a) writes regarding the Kohen Gadol sleeping in the Holy Temple that the real prohibition is sitting in the courtyard, but one can logically conclude that it applies to sleeping, as well. According to Rabbi Leib Malin, the latter is not a logical assumption based on the first prohibition; rather, it is the same prohibition of needlessly entering the Temple's courtyard as applies by sitting in the courtyard. (Tosafos to Yoma 8b and Chiddushei HaRitva to Yoma 11a also mention this logical sequence.)
[44] To Maimonides, Laws of Kings §11 (Printed in Kovetz Oraysa by Yeshivas Derech Chaim in memory of Avinoam Grossman, Teves 5767)
[45] Sotah 41b
[46] Samuel 2 7:18
[47] Deuteronomy 29:9
[48] Tosafos HaRid to Yoma 6a
[49] Yalkut Shimoni to Samuel §78
[50] Sotah 41b
[51] Sotah 41a
[52] See Deuteronomy 31:10-13
[53] Sotah 41b

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Completing a Mitzvah

The Midrash maintains[1] that the fulfillment of a commandment is only attributed to the one who completed the fulfillment of the commandment. This means that if one starts to perform a commandment, but does not finish it and someone else actually finishes the performance of a commandment started by someone else, the latter is accredited with the accomplishment of the commandment. Rabbi Leib Lipschutz, the first father-in-law of the Shinover Rebbe, Rabbi Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam, (1813–1899) asks[2] whether or not this rule applies even if the first person was unable to complete the fulfillment of the commandment. He asks whether the rule that a commandment is only ascribed to the one who completes it is even if the one who started it caused those circumstances that caused him not to be able to finish carrying out the mitzvah, or does it apply only if he was unable to finish it because of circumstances beyond his control. The Talmud says[3] that one who intends to perform a mitzvah, but is forced beyond his control not to carry it out, is considered as if he performed the commandment. Rabbi Lipschutz asks in this case is the one who completes the commandment given all the credit.

The Talmud[4] contrasts two Scriptural verses concerning the bones of Joseph. In one instance, the Talmud notes that the Torah says, "Moses took the Bones of Joseph with him"[5], yet in another context, the Torah refers to the "Bones of Joseph that the Israelites brought up [from Egypt]"[6]. There is a seeming contradiction in the Torah whether Moses took the bones of Josef or the Israelites took his bones. Rabbi Chama bar Chanina answers that actually, Moses initially took Joseph's bones and intended to bring it to the land of Canaan, however, when he was unable to enter the land of Canaan, the other Israelites finished his mission. He explains that the transportation of the Bones of Joseph is ascribed to the Israelites, even though Moses started it because when one starts to fulfill a commandment and does not finish it and someone else finishes it, the fulfillment of the commandment is attributed to the latter party. However, another Midrash questions[7] why the Psalmist writes "A song to David [concerning] the dedication of the Holy Temple" if King David did not build the Holy Temple, King Solomon, his son did. The Midrash explains that since King David intended to build the Holy Temple, even though in the end he did not, he is considered as having built it. This is because King David actually started the construction of the Holy Temple by digging its foundation[8]. Why does the Midrash ascribe the completion of a Mitzvah to the one who finished it (the Israelites, not Moses, in transporting the Bones of Joseph), yet in another instance the Midrash ascribed the completion of a Mitzvah to the one who started it, not he who finished it (King David, King Solomon, in building the Holy Temple)? Some answer[9] that Moses caused his situation in which he would not be allowed to enter the land of Israel to finish his mission by hitting the rock. While the circumstances, which caused King David not to be able to complete construction of the Holy Temple, were completely beyond the control of King David because the prophet simply came to him and told him HaShem said he is not to build the Holy Temple. Based on this one can answer that if one was forcibly stopped from performing his commandment by conditions which were beyond his control, he can still be considered the performer of the commandment when it is completed, just as King David is considered to have built the Holy Temple. However, if one put himself into a position where he was forcibly not able to complete a commandment, then the achievement of the commandment is credited to the one who finished, just as Moses is not considered to have brought the Bones of Joseph to Israel.

However, Rabbi Lipschutz writes, upon further examination, one will realize that Moses could not bring the Bones of Joseph into the land of Israel for the same exact reason that King David could not build the Holy Temple. The Midrash explains[10] that HaShem did not allowed King David to build the Holy Temple because had King David had built it would never have been able to have been destroyed. Therefore, had King David built it then when the Jews would later sin, HaShem would not be able to pour out His fury by destroying the Holy Temple of sticks and stones, and rather He would have had to destroy His people themselves, heaven forbid. The Psalmist writes, "A song to Asaf: G-d, gentiles have entered into You inheritance, they profaned Your Holy Sanctuary, and they have transformed Jerusalem into heaps of rubble.[11]" Rashi quotes[12] that the Midrash asks[13], why this is called a "Song to Asaf" instead of a kinah, a lamentation, to Asaf. Rashi answers that Asaf was singing about the fact that HaShem unleashed his fury upon wood and rocks instead of on the people of Israel, for had HaShem done the latter, no one would have survived, heaven forbid. Therefore, HaShem decreed that King David would not build the temple, so that it would later be able to be destroyed, as a service to the Jewish nation.

The same is true concerning Moses. Moses was not allowed to enter the Land of Israel because had he led the Jewish people into Israel, he himself would have been the Messiah, and the Holy Temple would have been built by him and such a Temple would not have been able to be destroyed. Therefore, had Moses led the Jews into Israel, they would have been destroyed, but now that he did not lead them there, the Holy Temple was destroyed in their stead. Moses describes his begging HaShem be allowed into the Land of Canaan: "I implored HaShem at that time saying 'HaShem, the G-d, You have began to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand…Allow me to cross and see the good land, which is on the other side of the Jordan, this good mountain and the Lebanon.[14]" HaShem reacted angrily and said, "It is too much for you, do not continue to speak to Me more about this thing"[15]. The Midrash explains[16] that "at that time" refers to the time of the conquest of Sichon and Og, when HaShem had seemingly profaned/violated His vow. The Midrash then "Your greatness" refers to the Manna and "Your strong hand" refers to the wars against Sichon and Og. What does the Manna and the wars with Sichon and Og have to do with Moses entering the land of Israel and HaShem violating a vow? Rabbi Lipschutz explains the meaning of this Midrash. The Talmud says[17] that rain can fall in the merit of an individual, but large-scale sustenance can only occur in the merit of the population. The Talmud then asked how then did the Manna fall in the merit of Moses, if large-scale sustenance can only come in the merit of the masses. The Talmud answered that the merits of Moses were considered as great as the merits of the entire population. Moses saw HaShem allowed him to fight Sichon and overtake the Moabite territories, even though HaShem earlier told Moses[18] not to fight Moab.

From here Moses saw that the only reason that he was allowed to overtake the Moabites was because HaShem looked at him as a representation of the masses, and thus since only an unfavorable heavenly decree on the masses can be overturned, but not on an individual[19]. The unfavorable decree against Moses, which barred him from fighting for the Moabite territories had been overturned, and was able to have been overturned because Moses was considered like the masses. Accordingly, Moses saw from the battle against Sichon and the fact that the Manna fell in his merit that he was considered like a population on his own, and thus unfavorable decrees against him could be overturned. Because of this, Moses decided to pray to HaShem to overturn the decree, which barred him from entering the land of Israel, as well. In requesting to led the nation into the land of Israel, Moses asked to see the "good mountain" which is a reference to Mount Mariah, upon which the Holy Temple has stood[20], and the Lebanon, a reference to the fact that the Holy Temple was built of Lebanon wood (from the area surrounding Tyre in the modern-day country of Lebanon).

However, HaShem did not acquiesce to Moses' prayers. This is because had Moses succeeded in his request, led the Jewish people in Israel, and built the Holy Temple, such a Holy Temple built by Moses would not have been able to be destroyed. Therefore, instead of unleashing His wrath upon a building of wood and stones, HaShem would have had to destroy the Jewish nation themselves when they would later sin. Consequently, HaShem responded to Moses' request by saying "You have enough", meaning that it is enough that Moses will lead the Jewish people in the time of the Third Holy Temple, after the Resurrection of the Dead, so he will not have to lead the Jewish people into Israel in the generation after the exodus. Accordingly, the reason why Moses could not lead the Jewish nation into Israel and bring there Joseph's bones is the same reason why King David did could not build the Holy Temple. Why then is the transportation of Joseph's bones not ascribed to Moses, yet the building of the Holy Temple is attributed to King David? Rabbi Lipschutz answers that King David was accredited with the building of the Holy Temple because the Talmud says[21] that when King Solomon wanted to bring the Holy Ark into the newly constructed Holy Temple, the gates to the Temple were closed shut. The doors did not open, even after King Solomon offered twenty-four prayer until King Solomon mentioned the merits of his father, King David[22]. Therefore, one can understand that the inauguration of the Holy Temple is attributed to King David, even though he only began the construction, but did not complete it, because it was in the merit of the King David that the services in the Holy Temple were allowed to commence. Nevertheless, usually, one who starts to perform a Mitzvah but could not complete is not credited with the finalization of the Mitzvah, just as Moses is not credited in the end with carrying the Bones of Joseph to the land of Israel.
[1] Midrash Tanchuma, Parshas Eikev §6
[2] See Ateres Zekanim §5 printed the Shinover Rebbe in 1895 (printed in the back of the book Ayalah Shelucha by the son of the Shinover Rebbe, Rabbi Naphtali Halberstam).
[3] Brachos 6a
[4] Sotah 13b
[5] Exodus 13:19
[6] Joshua 24:32
[7] Yalkut Shimoni to Samuel §46
[8] Sukkah 53a
[9] Responsa Shuv Yaakov, Even HaEzer §13
[10] Yalkut Shimoni to Samuel §46
[11] Psalms 79:1
Interestingly, Rabbi Moshe Alshich (1508-1593) explains (Alshich to Psalms 79:1) the seeming threefold repetition in the wording of the beginning of this Psalm. He explains that "gentiles have entered into Your inheritance" refers to the destruction of the First Holy Temple, when the gentile-army led by Nebuchadnezzar's general, Nevuzardan, merely entered the Holy Temple, but did not destroy. Rather, the moment they entered the Temple with intention to destroy it, the Heavenly Angels descended and set fire to the Temple themselves because the Temple was too holy to have been destroyed by gentiles. "They profaned Your Holy Sanctuary" refers to the fact that the Syrian-Greeks entered the Second Holy Temple and defiled it by erecting statues and committing sins inside, but they did not destroy it. "They have transformed Jerusalem into heaps of rubble" refers to the Romans who, led by general Titus, the son of the Emperor Vespasian, set the entire city of Jerusalem ablaze and plowed over the Temple Mount.
[12] To Kiddushin 31b
[13] Midrash Shocher Tov to Psalms 79:1
[14] Deuteronomy 3:23-25
[15] Deuteronomy 3:26
[16] Sifri to Deuteronomy 3:23-26
[17] Taanis 9a
[18] Deuteronomy 2:9
[19] Rosh HaShannah 18a
[20] See Pesachim 81a which says that Abraham called the Temple Mount a "mountain." See also Genesis 22:14 where Abraham calls Jerusalem "a mountain".
[21] Shabbos 30a
[22] See Chronicles 2 6:42.
Interestingly, the Stropkover Rebbe, Rabbi Avraham Shalom Halberstam, a descendant of the Shinover Rebbe, quoted (in a speech in Los Angeles on Saturday Night, 7 Shevat, 5767) a similar Midrash (Exodus Rabbah §8) that says that when King Solomon inaugurated the First Holy Temple, he met some difficulty squeezing the Holy Ark, which was ten cubits wide into the Holy of Holies, whose entrance was also exactly ten cubits wide. In order to remedy the situation, King Solomon called upon the merit of his father, King David, so that HaShem should perform a miracle and save him from great embarrassment. He brought the coffin of his deceased father into the Holy Temple, whereupon his father, King David, arose from the dead (although, see the parallel to this Midrash at Yalkut Shimoni, Prophets, §193 which does not mention this detail). Based on this Midrash, Rabbi Halberstam reasoned that the decree that all humans are destined to die is specifically if one is alive, then he is supposed to die, but if one already died and has been resurrected, there is no decree that he should ever die again. Therefore, he explained that after King David arose from the dead, he was alive and furthermore, he shall continue to live because the limits of human mortality do not apply to one who already experienced death and returned from the dead. This explains the interpretive anomaly in the contrast between Jacob and King David, for regarding Jacob's state of living, the Talmud simply says (Taanis 5b, See Rashi to Genesis 49:33 who proves this based on the connotation of a scriptural verse), "Jacob, our father, did not die." In contrast, a popular refrain declared by the Jewish Nation for many generations, as a source of inspiration through many trying times, states, "Dovid Melech Yisrael Chai V'Kayam, meaning, "David, king of Israel, is alive and enduring." (This phrase is not only found in popular songs, but is a liturgical part of many joyous occasions (such as Kiddush Levana and its grouping with the phrase Mazel Tov).) Jacob simply did not die, but King David not only remains alive, but continues to live and will never die. May it be the will of HaShem that the scion of the Davidic dynasty shall save the Jewish Nation and bring about the building and inauguration of the Holy Temple, speedily and in our days: Amen.

הבל הבלים #קכ"ו

הבל הבלים #קכ"ו*

Since this is ה"ה issue #126, I posted 126 links in 3 categories: Torah, Israel and Reid. (Don't count them; it's not worth your time).

The MUST Gum addict decides that it MUST be that the Torah is his charm. It is the element which helps him achieve the unachievable even in the professional world.

The other Reb Chaim (not me) calculated the price of the First Holy Temple, while I discussed the building of the Third Holy Temple. This blogger discusses some of the miracles from the

Reb Gavriel has an interesting post about adding to Shabbos and Shmittah. Speaking of Shmittah, Micha brings an interesting Chazon Ish who said that the bracha given to those who keep Shmittah applies even to Shemittah MiDrabbonon.

JoeSettler writes a very special piece entitled "Feeling Jewish" about how Jewish holidays just don't give off the aura that they are supposed to--that is, until the tragic events of September 11th. From then on, one can always remind oneself of a great tragedy that happened within our own lifetimes and use that reminder as a catalyst to feel the great tragedies of the past, such as the destruction of the Holy Beis HaMikdash. This was also posted @ the Muqata.

This is a very interesting linking the mitzvah of Kibud Av to the Geulah. I'm still wondering why this blog is called Havolim if it is all Torah, which is the opposite of הבל. Anyways, here is a very touching essay about one father's attempt to teach his son about Tisha B'Av, which ended up with the son inspiring his father. Here is an interesting way to teach kids the true meaning of Tisha B'Av. Jack offers some self-reflection for the Nine Days.

Daf notes discusses a gemara that says a Mamzer will die within ten generations with an amazing vort from the Vilna Gaon.

This blogger writes about the power of Malchus, kingship, and I myself wrote a post about how Moses, Joshua, and Samuel were all kings.

Since philosophy is a very subjective matter with some many varying opinions on it, a final psak is impossible. Bottom line: There's always another valid opinion.

Shimshi quotes from a passage from a book written by Herman Wouk in which the famed author describes his experience learning Gemara (even more interestingly, it was daf yomi) with physicist Richard Feynman (see here for another interview with a Jewish author, but beware of the untznius picture of her and here's an interview with the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l).

Avakesh details three views on the Kabbalistical concept of Tsimtsum.

In discussion the divinely-ordained war against the Midianites, this radical blogger has written a post entitled "Unholy War."This was my comment that never passed the moderation: You said: "Serious students of Torah cannot fail to notice, for instance, that a very different portrayal of Midian is offered in the book of Exodus, where Moses finds refuge in Midian, marries a Midianite woman and seeks serious counsel from his father-in-law Jethro, the Midanite High Priest." The Midianites were always treacherous peoples, your proof offered from Jethro proves nothing about the Midianites. The Midrash says (Exodus Rabbah 1:32) that Jethro was ostracized from the mainstream Midianite community, so he and his family lived alone. Furthermore, even in that passage in Exodus, the Torah discusses the Midianite shepherds who were harassing the daughters of Jethro. Don’t try to argue that the Midianites were undeserving of the decree which G-d put upon them. How dare you call a war commanded by G-d Himself an “Unholy War”, on the contrary, you should have titled this post “Holy War!”?

Rabbi Lazy Brody discusses marrying one's cousin or niece.

Heichal HaNeginah presents the story of the Bobover Rebbe zt"l.

So it turns out that the famous story of Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit"a outcomputing a computer is false.

The artist formerly known as the Godol HaDor, has been busying himself attempting to formulate a new type of theology. Of course, it failed.

Interestingly, a Jerusalem-based conservative think tank, which probably itself does not condone feminism, is considering using feminism as a way of breaking the unity amongst Muslims in a new front on the war against terrorism. Similarly, Jewish activists want to start using the term "Jewish refugees" from Muslim countries just as the Arabs use the term "Palistinian Refugees" from Israel. It has begun.

One philosophy says that the proper way to fight terrorism is not to fight their tactics, rather to fight their ideology, what is driving these people to commit acts of terror.

Robert Avrech warns Israel to watch the skies--especially the skies of Persia--for her enemies are numerous and waiting to strike from all sides. This warning should be especially heeded during the month of Av (see these posts about the conflicting themes on Rosh Chodesh Menachem-Av). But Israel doesn't seem to get it! Especially the recently coronated President Shimon Peres. But President Bush doesn't seem to get it either. We should just impeach the guy.

This Zionist compares the Israeli educational television programs for children, to the Palestinian educational television programs for kids.

Israel Zwick has posted information about a video on Islamic violence about the "religion of peace".

An organization in Israel has written a kinah describing the destruction of Gush Katiff. Batya compares the small Israel left after a complete disengagement to a ghetto.

Although this post about the ratio of terrorist Muslims to non-terrorist Moslems was actually submitted, after being introduced to this blog (which is by the way the purpose of ה"ה to introduce people to blogs that may otherwise have been seen), I decided to link to this post, about the truth behind Christian Zionism, as well. He also talks about a Jewish theocracy as does the Rabbi without a cause.

The noble Irina has posted a touching article about humanizing the kidnapped Israeli soldiers who, after a year, are still not yet freed (warning, untznius photos). Another blogger writes about how Israel needs Hamas. Don't worry, NPR botched up their interview with Condi Rice.

There were some interesting archaeological findings in Israel recently.

Pig and Potter are illegal in Israel (or at least on Shabbos and in Netanya, respectively)! Ben-Yehuda has put in his ten agurot buying/reading Harry Potter during the Nine Days. Interestingly, my friend told me that a prominent posek in America has ruled that even according to those opinions who permit reading a book such as Harry Potter ("Chaim Pottervitch"), it is absolutely forbidden to purchase or read this seventh book during the Nine Days. Ben-Yehuda ends of hoping to land a job as an actor for the 2010 Harry Potter movie even though he can't work on Shabbos and Yuntiff, but then again maybe he will get hired and then fired (as a side note, I will actually be flying this week to New York via JetBlue). Yeshiva World reports that in Israel, it will actually be illegal to sell the book on Shabbos, and they will enforce it.

This Arcadi guy seems bent on creating a personality cult--especially amongst Hareidi Jews in Israel. Speaking of Chareidi Jews, they aren't as bad as people make them out to be. Really.

This blogger writes about the "Goldene Medinah" and how people would rather live in the Diaspora than in the Holy Land. And yet the self-hating Israeli government is cutting funding to Nefesh B'Nefesh because they mainly recruit religious Jews for Aliyah.

In two varieties of religious fanatics, Reb Yudel talks about a man who went from Ivy league grad to ba'al teshuvah to Messianic Christian.

Rabbi Yehuda Henkin points out some silly mistakes made by the Encyclopedia Judaica concerning their entry in his grandfather, Rabbi Eliyahu Henkin. On the same blog, an interesting phenomenon in the frum world is discussed: people printing seforim to give out at weddings.

In an effort to remind us of the upcoming Geulah, this blogger has posted a description of Pesach in Lithuania, behind the iron curtain.

The BBC had decided to agree with anti-semitic propaganda that Bava Metzia is some law that allows Jews to lie to gentiles. In reality, however, Bava Metzia is the name of a tractate of the Talmud and means "Middle Gate", as one can clearly learn from the all-knowing Wikipedia. Incidentally, I also learned from the wiki that the Director of Audio and Music for the BBC is a granddaughter of Rav Chatzkel Abramsky. Oh yeah, and let's also repeat the lie that Zionism is racism.

In describing the significance of this post, mominisreal writes: "Many women have made the commitment to stay in difficult marriages. This blog was started so that they can find and support each other. Please help by posting a link on your own blog. Thanks, Mom in Israel."Here is a post about lucid dreaming, very appropriate for the Nine Days because King David writes (Psalms 126:1) that after the Ultimate Redemption, the exile will seem like a mere dream (he wrote another about Shabbos). I guess this golus is a very realistic dream. (The same blogger wrote this post, but I couldn't understand what he was saying in it.)World Zionist leaders have finally admitted what Hollywood screenwriter Ben Hecht and Rabbi Michel Ber Weissmandel have been telling us for years about the Holocaust.

While some of us are mourning the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, others are bemoaning the destruction of a maon (pun intended) in the settlements.

The Argentinian Jewish community has asked their government to cut ties with Iran.

AidelMaidel, who has been going through so much over the past few years, is going through more. May HaShem speedily heal her husband. Remember, the power of davening for others can cause one's own prayers to be answered.

This blog offers some resources for those planning a bar/bat mitzvah.

Zchus Avos writes about the genealogy of Rabbi Lazer Brody, based on this post. This blogger also discusses Rav Lazer's post.

In an effort to stop U.S. jails from brewing extremist Muslims, the federal government had decided that only 150 pre-approved books for each religion will stock in prison libraries. Missing amongst the Jewish books include the Zohar and the Rambam. Some inmates have already filed suit.

Should one hide mental ilness for the puposes of Shidduchim? Speaking of Shidduchim, YeshivaWorld has a story about marrying a Ba'al Teshuva. Speaking of marriage, he's a post on planned parenthood.

Rivkah is davening, nay, pleading, that HaShem answers her prayers.

This post is so funny because it is actually an accurate description of my own mother. Does counting sheep really help one fall asleep???

DixieJew discusses the pros and cons of anonymous blogging. The celebrated Jewish copyright lawyer, Ronald Coleman, has legalistically figured out a way to stop anonymous blogging and this is by getting the SEC involved, because it is a potential risk that anonymous bloggers can reveal insider information about companies.

The sister carnivals to ה"ה has posted the newest edition of the Kosher Cooking Carnival #20 and the newest edition (untznius pictures) of J Pix #12. I don't know who the next host of ה"ה will be, but you can find more information here.

*=As I wrote in my previous ה"ה post, due to controversy regarding the proper transliteration of this phrase, the author has chosen to leave it in its pure Hebrew form as intended by King Solomon in his famous work “Ecclesiastes” included in the recent compendium known as “Tanakh”.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Kingdom of Moses and Joshua

Maimonides rules[1] that the Jews are commanded to appoint a king over themselves once they enter the land of Israel, as the Torah says, "Thou shalt put over yourselves a king.[2]" However, Maimonides[3] and Rashi[4] rule in accordance with the Talmudic passage, which said that Moses was the King of Israel[5]. Indeed, the Midrash says[6] that when the Torah refers to the "King in Jeshurun"[7] the reference is to Moses[8]. The reign of Moses occurred before the Jews entered the land of Israel, yet Maimonides ruled that the commandment of appointing a king is only in the land of Israel. Furthermore, in many instances Moses did not act regally, rather he acted in a fashion unbefitting of a king, so it is difficult to explain that Moses was the King of the Israelites. Furthermore, assuming that Moses was a king, what then was the status of Joshua; was he a king as well? The Midrash says[9] that King Saul was the first Israelite king. This clearly implies that Moses and Joshua were not actually kings of Israel. Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein explains[10] that although Moses and Joshua had the halachik status of kings, in reality, they did not act like kings and did not present themselves as such.

Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik (1886-1959) explains[11], according to Maimonides, just as Moses was a king[12] and Supreme Justice in the Sanhedrin[13], so too Joshua was a king[14] and the Supreme Justice in the Sanhedrin[15]. Rabbi Soloveitchik writes that this explains why Moses was commanded[16] to lean his hands upon Joshua as Rabbinic ordination, for such ordination is required for one to serve as a judge on the Sanhedrin. Rabbi Yisroel Moshe Finkelstein[17] says that in describing the role of Joshua, Nachmanides[18] writes that Joshua was a "ruler" (moshel), but not necessarily a king (Melech), yet elsewhere, Nachmanides writes[19] that Moses blessed the tribe of Joseph that they should merit raising a King of Israel, and Joshua was that Josephian King of Israel[20]. Rabbi Finkelstein reconciles the seeming contradiction by explaining that initially Joshua was only appointed by Moses to lead the Israelites in the capacity of a "ruler", however, once he was led his people into the land of Canaan, they decided to promote his status from "ruler" to "king". Thus, according to Nachmanides, before entering the land of Israel, Joshua was only a "ruler", but afterwards, he was a "king" as well[21].

Rabbeinu Nissim explains[22] that the power that the Sanhedrin, or any rabbinical court, has to execute the death penalty stems from the king's power as king to carry out such capital punishment. He further writes[23] that even at a time when there is no king, the Sanhedrin has the powers to execute a sinner because in the absence of a king, the Beis Din assume the executive role of the king, in addition to their judicial role as the court. Thus, he understands that power of Sanhedrin is really a reflection of the powers delegated by the Torah to the king. According to Rabbeinu Nissim, every one of the Judges (from the Book of Judges) served not only as a judge, but also as a king[24]. Therefore, according to Rabbeinu Nissim, Moses and Joshua were not actually kings, they merely the Heads of the Sanhedrin, and as such, they assumed the role of the kings, in the absence of an existing king. Consequently, one can explain that since Moses was not really a king he was allowed to forgo the honor due to him[25]. Rabbeinu Nissim assumes that the powers of the kingship and judicial powers are dependent on each other, but Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik understood in the explanation of Maimonides that they are two independent responsibilities. Rabbi Don Yitzchok Abarbanel (1437-1508) asked[26] on the view of Rabbeinu Nissim that it is not necessarily true to assume that certain powers exist that a king could possess and a court cannot possess, but must use the king's abilities to carry out their assigned tasks.

The Talmud[27] says that the source for the rule that rebelling against a king is punishable by death is the scriptural verse, which states, "Any man whom after you have ruled does not listen to your words which you have commanded, shall be put to death.[28]" This verse was stated by HaShem regarding Joshua's authority. Therefore, the Talmud must have understood that Joshua did indeed have the status of a king. Rabbi Chanoch Zundel of Bialystock explains[29] that Joshua carried a Torah Scroll with him wherever he went, as is the rule with any king. Rabbi Dovid Luria (1798-1855) writes[30] that Maimonides' source for the law that a king must always carry with him a Sefer Torah is the verse, which says,[31] "This book of the Torah shall never leave your mouth." This verse was stated concerning Joshua, which proves that Maimonides understood that Joshua was a king.

The Book of Chronicles mentions[32] the Hagrite wars in which the Reubenites and Gadites prevailed against the Hagarites, without the leadership of King Saul. The Midrash explains[33] that the Scripture does not literally mean King Saul; rather, it means King Joshua, who is called Shaul because he "borrowed" the kingship, but did not establish a royal dynasty passing the kingship to his descendants. Rabbi Zev Wolf Einhorn explains[34] that usually the royal approval is needed in order to wage war, but this war was waged without the approval of Joshua because he was not really a king, the mandate of his kingship only included the responsibility of conquering and dividing the land of Canaan. Thus, Rabbi Einhorn understood that Joshua was not completely a "king" in the full sense of the word[35]. Indeed, Rabbi Epstein writes that Joshua was not anointed with oil in the fashion that other kings were because, unlike other kings, Joshua's progeny never continued his kingship. However, Rabbi Yosef Babad (1801-18740) is not satisfied with this explanation[36] because King Saul also did not establish a dynastic monarch, yet he was anointed with oil[37].

Rabbi Yosef Babad explains that Joshua, although he was a king according to Maimonides, was not anointed with the Oil of Anointment (Shemen HaMishcha) because he was not a king of the Davidic family. Why then was King Saul anointed with such oil if he too was not of the Davidic dynasty? Rabbi Dovid Kimchi (1160-1235) writes[38] that King Saul was not actually anointed with the regular oil used to anoint kings; rather, his oil was different because it had balsam spice in it and, thus, was not pure oil. Rabbi Chaim Ibn Attar (1696-1743) answers[39] that the right to the kingship given to King Moses and King Joshua came directly from HaShem, so they did not require to be christened with the smearing of oil to signify their royalty. He understands that the "word of HaShem" was instead of oil for Moses and Joshua's kingship. On the other hand, King Saul's appointment did not come divinely; rather, it came through the people, so the smearing of oil upon his head was required to signify his coronation. However, Rabbi Mordechai Carlebach asks[40], according to this explanation, how one justifies the anointing of King David if he too was chosen directly by G-d and thus should not have been anointed. Rather he proposes another reason as to why Joshua was not anointed and King Saul was, even though both were not members of the Davidic dynasty. He explains that since Joshua was only supposed to be king temporarily and never pass on the kingship to his descendants, his coronation did not require anointment. However, King Saul was initially supposed to be the king and his children were supposed to inherit the title, as well, but since he sinned in the matter of Amalek, so he lost the kingship. Therefore, Maimonides understood that since at the onset King Saul was originally supposed to father the House of Saul, which was destined to rule Israel as a monarchist dynasty, King Saul was initially anointed with oil as an everlasting king; nonetheless, his sin prevented such a dynasty from continuing[41].

However, Nachmanides understands[42] that King Saul was only supposed to be king temporarily from the onset, because it has been predestined since the time of Jacob that the kings would descend from the Tribe of Judah, not Benjamin, accordingly, there is no difference between Joshua and Saul. If both Joshua and Saul were only destined to reign for one generation, then why was Joshua not anointed with oil upon assuming the role of king, but Saul was? Perhaps this is a proof to the view that Nachmanides understood that Joshua was not a king, unlike Maimonides' stance. Alternatively, one can answer that Nachmanides understood like Rabbi Menachem Meiri (1249-1310)[43] who said that King Saul was not anointed as a king; rather, he was merely inaugurated as a governor or officer of some sort, but not as a king. This explains King Saul's anointment, because it was not really an anointment of kingship, it was a mere appointment to a position of power.

The Talmud maintains[44] a rule that a king is not allowed to forgo the honor due to him and Tosafos[45] explain this is because the king's honor is not actually his. Rabbeinu Yonah explains[46] that a king's honor is not really, rather it belongs to the people whom he represents, and therefore he cannot give up his honor because it is a slight to the people's honor, of which he is a personification. Similarly, Rabbi Shmuel Eidels (1555-1631) explains[47] that a king cannot ignore his own honor because the honor due to the kingship is not really his own honor, rather the kingship really belongs to HaShem,[48] and a human king is merely an agent of Above. Since the honor due to a king is really due to HaShem, a human king cannot forgo an honor that is not really his. The Midrash says[49] that when Jethro met up with the Israelites in the desert, Moses himself prepared and served the banquet honoring Jethro. However, the commentaries ask, that if Moses had the status of a king how was he halachikly allowed to serve as a waiter, if doing so is beneath his royal dignity and the Talmud says that a king cannot waive the honor due to him. Rabbi Abraham Maskileison (1788-1848) answers[50] that Moses only had the status of a king after he brought the second pair of tablets down from Mount Sinai[51]; the incident involving Moses waiting on his father-in-law, according to some authorities, occurred before the reception of the Torah at Mount Sinai, when Moses did not yet have the status of a king. However, this does not reconcile the event with the opinion of the others authorities[52] who understand that Jethro's arrival occurred only after the Sinaitic Revelation. Furthermore, Rabbi Chaim Ibn Attar writes[53] that Moses was already the King of the Jews in Egypt, so either way he was already king when Jethro arrived. Indeed, if Deuteronomy 33:5 is the source for Moses' royal status, the logic dictates that he would have been king from the time that he "gathered the leaders of the nation", which occurred in Egypt (see Exodus 4:29). Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz (1731-1805) explains[54] that since Moses was not king in the land of Israel, rather he was king of Israel in the Sinaic desert, his kingship was not a fulfillment of the positive commandment of appointing a king. Therefore, even though he had the status of a king, since his kingship was not a fulfillment of the commandment, then the rule that a king may not waive the honor due to him did not apply to Moses. Rabbi Horowitz understands that that rule is applicable only to a king whose reign is a fulfillment of the Biblical precept of appointing a king.

When Eldad and Meidad were prophesying in the encampment, Joshua wanted to "confiscate" the power prophecy from the brothers because Joshua looked at the brothers as rebelling against King Moses, who until then was the prophet. However, when he asked Moses, Moses told him not to do so, for all of HaShem's people are prophets[55]. Nachmanides writes[56] that when Moses said this, he was forgoing his rights to honor. Nachmanides must have learned like Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz that, although Moses was a king, since his kingship was not a fulfillment of the Biblical precept of appointing a king because it was in the Diaspora, Moses was allowed to surrender the honor that he is owed. Later on, Rabbi Chaim Ibn Attar writes[57] that when Miriam spoke slander about Moses, she was still punished despite the fact that Moses forgave her because since Moses was a king, he was not allowed to forgive any slights to his honor. Rabbi Chaim Ibn Attar obviously did not learn like Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz because according to Rabbi Horowitz the rule about a king not giving up his honor did not apply to Moses. It is indeed difficult to explain how Rabbi Chaim Ibn Attar understood the law about a king not being allowed to relinquish the honor due to him[58].

A passage in the Talmud also seems to argue against the novel interpretation of Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz. The Talmud asks[59] how King Agrippa was allowed to praise a newly married bride if praising such a woman was beneath his dignity and a king is not allowed to give up the honor due to him. The Talmud answers that King Agrippa only praised the newlywed at a crossroads in such a fashion that it was not easily recognizable by the masses that he afforded the woman honor. Now, King Agrippa was a scion of the Herodian dynasty, which in the eyes of halacha, took the kingship of Judea illegitimately, and Tosafos even say[60] that King Agrippa was not even Jewish and therefore did not deserve the throne, yet the Talmud still assumed that he was not allowed to give up his honor. To explain this, Tosafos[61]say that although appointing Agrippa as king was halachikly unacceptable, ex post facto that he was appointing the king, all laws applicable to a king are in effect[62], so the Talmud asked how he praised the bride. From here, one sees not like the words of Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz because according to Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz since the ascent of King Agrippa to the throne was not a fulfillment of the commandment of appointing a king, then King Agrippa should have justifiably been allowed to surrender the honor due to him[63].

Rabbi Malkiel Tzvi HaLevi Tenenbaum of Lomza (1847-1910) offers[64] an explanation to the question of the Talmud concerning King Agrippa. He explains that only those kings who were appointed by people cannot waive the honor, which is supposed to be accorded to them. This is because since the people elected this king, they will naturally begin to disparage him because they will feel that they are in charge, and not he. Therefore, Halacha says that in order to counter this effect, honor is forced upon the king—whether he wants it or not—so that the masses will not demean the kingship. However, if a king is chosen divinely or chosen because he has some glaringly obvious qualities over the rest of the nation, then such a king is allowed to forgo his rights to honor because the masses will respect him anyways. Therefore, says Rabbi Tenenbaum, King Agrippa, who was chosen and loved by the masses, was not allowed to surrender his honor, so the Talmud asked how he praised the bride and had to answer he did so in a way that he did not degrade himself. However, Moses, who was divinely chosen as the King of Israel, was allowed to give up his own honor, and therefore was justified in serving the banquet to honor his father-in-law, Jethro[65]. Rabbi Yosef Chaim Shneur Kotler (1918-1982) also makes this distinction explaining[66] that the kingdoms of Moses and Joshua were different from that of the other kings because Moses and Joshua were chosen directly by HaShem, while other kings were chosen by the people.

Rabbi Shneur Kotler explains that Samuel was a king in the same way that Moses and Joshua were. The Midrash[67] says that just as Moses ruled over all of Israel and Judea, so too the prophet Samuel ruled over all of Israel and Judea[68]. Indeed, the Talmud says[69] that Samuel reigned over the Jewish people for ten years alone and for two years, he was co-regent with King Saul. After the Jews requested from the Prophet Samuel to have a king lord over them, HaShem told Samuel, "It is not only you whom they are disgusted with, and rather it is Me as well.[70]" HaShem viewed the request for a king as a rebellion against not only Himself, but against Samuel as well. Rabbi Shneur Kotler explains[71] that this was because Samuel was already a king and requesting from him a king was akin to rejecting Samuel's pre-existing kingship. Rabbi Chaim Palagi (1788-1868) writes[72] that the Zohar understood that Samuel was not a king, because if he were a king, then the Jews would not have asked from his to establish a Jewish monarchy. However, according to Rabbi Kotler, he was a king, and that request was viewed by HaShem as an affront to Samuel's kingship. (The Midrash also says that Abraham was a king.[73])

Rashi[74] understands that a king is not allowed to abstain from honor due to him because by abstaining from such honor, he is actually abstaining from the kingship and would thus temporarily lose his position as king[75]. According to Rashi, perhaps one can explain that Moses temporarily relinquished his title of king in order to serve at the banquet honoring his father-in-law and he later took up again that title[76].

[1] Laws of Kings 1:1
[2] Deuteronomy 17:15
[3] Laws of Beis HaBechirah 6:11 (It is difficult to understand what Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein (1829-1907) meant when he said (Aruch HaShulchan HeUsid Kodshim §13:2) that Maimonides had to specifically say that Moses was a king because this is not found explicitly elsewhere. As one can clearly see below, this concept is stated in other places as well.)
[4] To Shavuos 15a
[5] See Zevachim 102a and Jerusalemic Sanhedrin 1:3
[6] Midrash Tanchuma to Behaaloscha §9
[7] Deuteronomy 33:5
[8] Although, Rabbeinu Bachaya and Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra (1093-1167) write (to Deuteronomy 33:5) that Moses was "like a king", which implies that he was not literally a king.
[9] See Leviticus Rabbah §26:7 and the Midrash quoted by Rashi to Numbers 22:7
[10] Aruch HaShulchan HeUsid
[11] Chiddushei HaGriz Al HaTorah (stencil), §156 and Chiddushei HaGriz Al HaTorah, Parshas Vayelech
[12] Zevachim 102a
[13] See Maimonides, Laws of Sanhedrin 1:3
[14] As Maimonides himself writes in Laws of Kings 1:3
[15] This position of the Brisker Rov is disputed by the Brisker Rav's great-grandfather, Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin (1817-1893). The latter writes (Emek HaNetziv to Sifri to Numbers 12:1) that Moses was not a king and he writes (Ha'emek She'eila to Sheiltos of Rabbi Achai Gain, Devarim §142:9) that Joshua was not a king, as well. Although Rabbeinu Efraim, a Tosafist, states explicitly that Moses did have the law of a king (see Pirush Rabbeinu Efrayim to Numbers 12:1 printed based on the Cambridge University manuscript).
[16] Numbers 27:18
[17] Torah Ohr on Chiddushei HaGriz Al HaTorah, Parshas Vayelech §3
[18] In the end of his addition to Maimonides' Sefer HaMitzvos
[19] Ramban to Deuteronomy 33:17
[20] Joshua was from the tribe of Efrayim, who was a son of Joseph.
[21] This explanation is not necessarily evident from the wording of Nachmanides in both places because Nachmanides subscribes to the view of Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra who wrote (to Genesis 49:10) that Judah, the son of Jacob, was the first king of the Judean tribe, yet in discussing the rulership of Judah, Nachmanides repeatedly uses moshel and " Melech interchangeably. See Ramban to Genesis 49:10 and Genesis 38:24. Although, see Biur HaGra to Psalms 22:29 who does differentiate between the two terms.
[22] Chiddushei HaRan to Sanhedrin 46a
[23] Drashas HaRan, Drush #11
[24] Rabbi Shneur Kotler wonders (See commentary to Maimonides, Laws of Kings §5. (Printed in Kovetz Oraysa by Yeshivas Derech Chaim in memory of Avinoam Grossman, Teves 5767) whether the judges had the status of kings or not. According to Rabbeinu Nissim, they surely did. Nonetheless, Rabbi Kotler attempts to prove from the fact that no Judge was succeeded by his son that the right to be a judge was not inheritable like the right to rule as a king.
[25] This explanation of Rabbeinu Nissim does not justify the stance of Rabbi Chaim Ibn Attar because according to this explanation Moses should have been allowed to forgive Miriam, yet Rabbi Chaim Ibn Attar wrote above that he could not.
[26] Abarbanel to Deuteronomy 17:8
[27] Sanhedrin 49a
[28] Joshua 1:18
[29] See Eitz Yosef to Genesis Rabbah §6:9
[30] Chiddushei HaRadal to Genesis Rabbah §6:9
[31] Joshua 1:8
[32] Chronicles 1 5:10
[33] Genesis Rabbah §98:!5
[34] Maharzu to Genesis Rabbah §98:!5
[35] See Divrei HaYamim (pg. 408-411) by Rabbi Moshe Eisemann who offers another approach to this discussion (Published by Artscroll/Mesorah Publications Ltd.)
[36] Hagahos Minchas Chinuch to Maimonides, Laws of Kings 1:3 (printed in Sefer Likutim in the Rabbi Shabsai Frankel edition of Maimonides' work) which is also quoted in a footnote in the Machon Yerushalayim edition of Minchas Chinuch, #497
[37] See Maimonides, Laws of Kings 1:7
[38] Radak to Samuel 1 10:1
[39] Ohr HaChaim to Numbers 27:23
[40] Chavatzeles HaSharon to Numbers 27:23
[41] This is according to the understanding of Tosafos Yeshanim to Yoma 22b that initially King Saul was supposed to pass on the kingship to his descendants, but his sin prevented such a thing from happening.
[42] Ramban to Genesis 49:10
[43] Beis HaBechirah to Horayos 10b
[44] Sotah 41b
[45] To Sanhedrin 19a
[46] Sanhedrin 19a
[47] Maharsha to Kiddushin 32b
[48] See Psalms 22:29
[49] Mechilta, Parshas Yisro §1:13
[50] Mitzpeh Eisan to Kiddushin 33b
[51] Rabbi Meir Simcha HaKohen of Dvinsk (1843-1926) also writes (Meshech Chochmah to Exodus 18:14) that Moses had the status of a king only after the Sinaitic Revelation, although he does not specify from the time of the acceptance of the second tablets as Rabbi Maskileison does. Rabbi Chizkiyah ben Manoach writes (Chizkuni to Deuteronomy 33:5) that Moses attained the status of king from the time that he received the first pair of tablets on Mount Sinai. At Mount Sinai, Moses gathered the tribes of Israel (Deuteronomy 4:10), so Deuteronomy 33:5 says he became king when gathering the leaders of the nation.
[52] Zevachim 116a
[53] Ohr HaChaim to Exodus 6:13 and Exodus 27:20
[54] Sefer HaMakneh to Kiddushin 32b
[55] Numbers 11:25-29
[56] Ramban to Numbers 11:28
[57] Ohr HaChaim to Numbers 12:11
[58] He cannot hold like Rabbi Shmuel Eidels and the opinion that Jethro join with the Israelites before the Sinaitic Revelation, and thus before Moses became a king, because, as mentioned above, he understood that Moses was a king over the Israelites in Egypt.
[59] Kesubos 17a
[60] See Tosafos to Yevamos 45b
[61] To Kesubos 17a, see also Chiddushei HaRa'ah to Kesubos 17a
[62] Although, see Bava Basra 3a which implies that King Herod did not have the halachik status of a king, only of a Nasi (roughly translated as "President").
[63] Indeed Rabbi Horowitz himself addresses this issue (Hafla'ah to Kesubos 17a) and purports that the words of Tosafos are inexplicable. They are only inexplicable according to Rabbi Horowitz's own explanation of the issue in Sefer HaMakneh to Kiddushin 32b
[64] Responsa Divrei Malkiel Volume 2, §73
[65] The stance of Rabbi Chaim Ibn Attar cannot be explained like Rabbi Malkiel Tzvi Tenenbaum because by the latter's reasoning Moses would have been allowed to forgo his honor because he was appointed as king by HaShem, yet Rabbi Chaim Ibn Attar writes that Moses was not able to forgive his sister Miriam because he could not relinquish the honor that he was supposed to be accorded.
[66] To Maimonides, Laws of Kings §3. (Printed in Kovetz Oraysa by Yeshivas Derech Chaim in memory of Avinoam Grossman, Teves 5767)
[67] Yalkut Shimoni to Jeremiah §292
[68] See also Maharzu to Numbers Rabbah to Numbers 15:13
[69] Temurah 15a
[70] Samuel 1 8:7
[71] To Maimonides, Laws of Kings §5. (Printed in Kovetz Oraysa by Yeshivas Derech Chaim in memory of Avinoam Grossman, Teves 5767)
[72] Nefesh Chaim, the letter Shin, §102
[73] See Yalkut Shimoni to Parshas Vayera §96
[74] As explained by Rabbi Betzalel Ashkenazi in Shittah Mekubetzes to Kesubos 17a
[75] Similarly, Rashi explains (Kerisos 5b) that when the Talmud says that a Davidic King only requires anointment from the Oil of Anointing if his kingship is disputed, this is because when there is a dispute of the kingship, all disputants lose their status as king so a new anointing is required.
[76] This explanation also does not explain Rabbi Chaim Ibn Attar because according to this reasoning, Moses should have suspended his status as king temporarily in order to pardon Miriam his sister.

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