INSIGHTS INTO THE DAILY DAF
prepared by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Yerushalayim
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
MEGILAH 26 (10 Av) - Dedicated by Rabbi Dr. Eli Turkel of Ra'anana, Israel, in memory of his father, Reb Yisrael Shimon ben Shlomo ha'Levi Turkel. Isi Turkel, as he was known, loved Torah and worked to support it literally with his last ounce of strength. He passed away on 10 Av 5740.
1) "MA'ALIN B'KODESH V'LO MORIDIN"
QUESTION: The Mishnah teaches that money received from the sale of a Sefer Torah may not be used to buy scrolls of Nevi'im and Kesuvim. RASHI (DH Aval) explains that the reason is because "Ma'alin b'Kodesh v'Lo Moridin." Hence, the money may be used to buy only an item of greater Kedushah and not one of lesser Kedushah.
Rashi cites a Tosefta which records sources for the two parts of the principle, "Ma'alin b'Kodesh v'Lo Moridin." The specific requirement of "Ma'alin b'Kodesh" (that the level of Kedushah must be raised) is derived from the construction of the Mishkan. Betzalel built the Mishkan, and Moshe Rabeinu -- who was greater than Betzalel -- erected it. The specific requirement of "Lo Moridin" (that the level of Kedushah may not be lowered) is derived from the Machtos (copper pans) from which the copper-plating of the Mizbe'ach was fashioned. Those Machtos were the pans in which Korach and his accomplices brought their incense offering. (The Gemara in Menachos (99a) also records the sources for "Ma'alin b'Kodesh v'Lo Moridin." The Girsa there differs from the Girsa of the Tosefta which Rashi cites.)
Why are two separate sources for the principle of "Ma'alin b'Kodesh v'Lo Moridin" necessary? The source that teaches "Ma'alin b'Kodesh" implies that one may not decrease in sanctity ("v'Lo Moridin")!
Moreover, why does Rashi here need to cite the source for this principle? "Ma'alin b'Kodesh v'Lo Moridin" is mentioned in many other places in the Gemara. Why specifically here does Rashi mention the source?
ANSWER: The BA'AL HA'ME'OR and other Rishonim are bothered by an apparent contradiction in the Mishnah itself. The beginning of the Mishnah states that money received from the sale of scrolls of Nevi'im and Kesuvim may be used only to purchase Sifrei Torah (which have a greater Kedushah). This implies that the money may not be used to buy other Sifrei Nevi'im (which have an equal Kedushah). However, the end of the Mishnah states that money received from the sale of scrolls of Nevi'im and Kesuvim may not be used to buy Mitpachos (coverings for a Sefer Torah, which have a lesser Kedushah). This implies that the money may be used to buy other scrolls of Nevi'im (an equal Kedushah)!
The BACH and MAGEN AVRAHAM (OC 153:2) explain that both implications are correct. The beginning of the Mishnah teaches the Halachah l'Chatchilah, and the end of the Mishnah teaches the Halachah b'Di'eved: The beginning of the Mishnah teaches that, l'Chatchilah, one may not sell a holy object unless he intends to use its value to buy something of greater Kedushah (and not just of equal Kedushah). However, if, b'Di'eved, one sold a holy object when nothing of greater Kedushah was available for purchase, he may buy something of equal Kedushah. The money may not be used to buy an object of lesser Kedushah, even b'Di'eved.
(The Bach and Magen Avraham assert that this is the intention of the RAN. However, the TAZ and VILNA GA'ON point out that this does not seem to be the Ran's opinion. According to the Ran, one must purchase an item of greater Kedushah even b'Di'eved, if he already sold a holy object.)
Perhaps this question is what motivates Rashi to explain here that the principle of "Ma'alin b'Kodesh v'Lo Moridin" includes two separate rules. The first rule is that the level of Kedushah must be raised, and the second rule is that the level of Kedushah may not be lowered. Rashi explains that "Ma'alin b'Kodesh" means that l'Chatchilah the Kedushah must be raised, but b'Di'eved it is acceptable if one remains with an equal Kedushah. "Lo Moridin" means that even b'Di'eved the Kedushah may not be lowered.
The verses cited by the Tosefta teach these two rules. "Ma'alin b'Kodesh" is derived from the fact that Betzalel built the Mishkan and Moshe Rabeinu erected it. The verse does not say that Betzalel was prohibited from erecting it, but simply that Moshe Rabeinu erected it. This implies that it is preferable l'Chatchilah to rise in Kedushah, but b'Di'eved it would have been acceptable for Betzalel (the same level of Kedushah) to erect the Mishkan. The verses of the Machtos of Korach teach that one is prohibited from using the pans for a non-sanctified purpose because they were used in the past for an offering to Hash-m and their Kedushah cannot be removed. For that reason, Moshe was instructed to plate the Mizbe'ach with their copper. Those verses teach that even b'Di'eved the Kedushah may not be lowered.
2) BINYAMIN'S REWARD
QUESTION: The Beraisa says that Binyamin was distressed when he learned that his portion of Eretz Yisrael would not contain all parts of the Beis ha'Mikdash and Mizbe'ach. In his portion would be only the Mizbe'ach and the parts of the Beis ha'Mikdash to the west of the Mizbe'ach, while in the portion of Yehudah would be the parts of the Beis ha'Mikdash to the east of the Mizbe'ach and a strip right beneath the eastern (and southern) base of the Mizbe'ach. Binyamin was distressed that he would receive only part of the Mizbe'ach and not the entire Mizbe'ach.
As reward for his strong desire to have all of the parts of the Beis ha'Mikdash in his portion, Binyamin merited "to become the host for the Almighty." RASHI explains that this means that "the Aron ha'Kodesh was placed in his portion."
The MAHARSHA (in Zevachim 53b) asks that if Binyamin saw that his portion of land would contain most of the Mizbe'ach except for one small strip on the eastern side of the Mizbe'ach, then certainly he knew that the Mizbe'ach and the area to the west of it would all be in his portion. Accordingly, he already knew that the Aron ha'Kodesh would be in his portion. What, then, does the Gemara mean when it says that Binyamin was rewarded for his feelings of distress by having the Aron ha'Kodesh in his portion? It was already in his portion!
(a) Hash-m revealed to Binyamin that both he and Yehudah would have parts of the Mizbe'ach in their respective portions. Binyamin, however, did not know exactly how this distribution would be executed. All he knew was that he would share the Mizbe'ach with Yehudah. Since he so strongly desired to have all of the Beis ha'Mikdash in his portion, he merited to receive the area to the side of the Mizbe'ach that contained the Aron ha'Kodesh.
(b) The TORAH TEMIMAH (Devarim 33:12) gives a different explanation for what the Gemara means when it says that Binyamin merited "to become the host for the Almighty."
The Gemara in Zevachim (118b) says that the Shechinah dwelled among the Jewish people in three places: in the Mishkan in Shilo, in Nov and Giv'on, and in the Beis ha'Mikdash in Yerushalayim. All three places were in the portion of Binyamin. Binyamin foresaw that he would have the Aron ha'Kodesh in his portion in the Beis ha'Mikdash, while Yehudah would have in his portion only a strip from the Mizbe'ach. As reward for his distress that the eastern base of the Mizbe'ach would not be in his portion, Binyamin merited that the other places in which the Aron ha'Kodesh would reside would be in his portion as well. (This may be the intention of Rashi here.) (See also Insights to Yoma 12:3.)
3) REMOVING THE "KEDUSHAH" FROM A "BEIS HA'KENESES" BY SELLING IT
QUESTION: Ravina sought to sow an area of his property on which stood the ruins of a Beis ha'Keneses. Rav Ashi advised him that if he wanted to sow it, he should purchase the Beis ha'Keneses from the "seven leaders of the city, in the presence of the assembly of the entire city."
The Gemara shortly afterwards teaches that one may sell or barter a Beis ha'Keneses because the Kedushah of the Beis ha'Keneses will be transferred to the money or object which is received in return (Rashi DH Chilufei). This implies that when one sells a Beis ha'Keneses, its Kedushah is removed from it and is transferred to the money with which it is purchased. The Gemara must be referring to a situation in which the Beis ha'Keneses was not sold by the seven leaders in the presence of the entire city, because under such circumstances the Kedushah is not transferred to the money at all; rather, the Kedushah of the Beis ha'Keneses simply "departs by itself" and no Kedushah is left at all on the Beis ha'Keneses or on the funds used to purchase it (as the Gemara says at the end of 26a: "even beer may be purchased with the money..."). The Gemara which discusses the transferal of Kedushah must be discussing a Beis ha'Keneses which was sold only by the seven leaders, or only by the other people of the city, but not by both.
Why, then, was it necessary for Ravina to purchase the Beis ha'Keneses in the presence of the seven leaders and the entire city? He wanted merely to use the ruins of the Beis ha'Keneses for other purposes by transferring its Kedushah onto money. He was not interested in ensuring that the money from the purchase would be fit to be used for all purposes. (See GILYON HA'SHAS to Rashi, 26a.)
(a) The RAMBAN and RITVA explain that the Beis ha'Keneses indeed did not need to be sold by the seven leaders in the presence of the entire city. However, Rav Ashi realized that the people of the town would not be interested in selling the Beis ha'Keneses if they would not be able to use the money for any purpose other than for the purchase of Sifrei Torah and other objects of a Kedushah greater than that of a Beis ha'Keneses. He therefore advised that the Beis ha'Keneses be sold by the seven leaders in the presence of the entire city so that the funds generated by the sale could be used for any purpose.
(The Ritva adds that perhaps Rav Ashi instructed that it be sold by the seven leaders "in the presence of the entire city" only to emphasize the fact that if Ravina does not purchase it in some manner, he would not be permitted to sow it.)
According to this explanation, the Kedushah of the Beis ha'Keneses indeed is removed from the Beis ha'Keneses even when it is sold without the seven leaders in the presence of the entire city. This is not consistent with the view of Rashi who clearly writes (end of 26a) that the Kedushah is transferred from the Beis ha'Keneses only when it is sold by the seven leaders in the presence of the entire city.
(b) The ROSH and RAN (based on the RAMBAM in Hilchos Tefilah 11:17) also explain that the Kedushah is transferred from the Beis ha'Keneses even when it is sold without the seven leaders in the presence of the entire city. However, the act of sowing the ground of a ruined Beis ha'Keneses is particularly disrespectful, and it falls into the same category as making it into a bathhouse (which the Chachamim (27b) prohibit even after the Kedushah is removed). When the Beis ha'Keneses is sold by the seven leaders before the entire city, it may even be sown or converted into a bathhouse. This is why Rav Ashi advised selling the Beis ha'Keneses with the seven leaders before the entire city.
Rashi, however, implies that no Kedushah is removed from the Beis ha'Keneses when it is sold without the seven leaders before the entire city. When it is not sold by the seven leaders before the entire city, it may not be used for any purpose other than as a Beis ha'Keneses. Apparently, Rashi has another way to answer this question.
(c) The TOSFOS RID (Mahadura Tinyana) suggests that the Beis ha'Keneses originally belonged to a major city. Although such Batei Keneses normally may not be sold (26a), they may be purchased from the seven leaders in the presence of the entire city.
(d) According to an alternate Girsa which the RAN cites, when a Beis ha'Keneses is sold by the seven leaders before the entire city "one is permitted to drink beer and spread out fruits to dry inside the area of the Beis ha'Keneses."
This Girsa may explain why it was necessary for Ravina to purchase the Beis ha'Keneses in the presence of the seven leaders and the entire city. According to this Girsa, when a Beis ha'Keneses is sold by the seven leaders before the entire city, the Kedushah of the Beis ha'Keneses is removed but not the Kedushah of the funds received through the sale. Perhaps the Kedushah of the Beis ha'Keneses is transferred to the money even when it is sold by the seven leaders before the entire city, and that is the case to which the Gemara refers when it discusses the transferal of Kedushah when selling, trading, or giving away a Beis ha'Keneses (as the RIF there implies; see Ran).
When a Beis ha'Keneses is sold by the seven leaders not in the presence of the entire city, the Kedushah remains on both the Beis ha'Keneses and the money received for it. When sold by the seven leaders in the presence of the entire city, the Kedushah remains only on the money received, but not on the Beis ha'Keneses itself -- which is why Ravina needed to buy the Beis ha'Keneses from the seven leaders before the entire city.
This answer is not consistent with the words of Rashi, who clearly explains that the Gemara is lenient with both the Kedushah of the Beis ha'Keneses and the Kedushah of the funds received from its sale.
Nevertheless, Rashi may understand that the funds lose their Kedushah only through a two-step process, as the RAN suggests (26b). First, the Kedushah is transferred from the Beis ha'Keneses to the money, which acquires a lesser degree of Kedushah than the original Kedushah of the Beis ha'Keneses. Second, the seven leaders in the presence of the entire city are authorized to "remove" this lesser Kedushah from the money. When the Gemara (26b) discusses "transferring" the Kedushah of the Beis ha'Keneses by selling or bartering it, it means that when the Beis ha'Keneses is sold by the seven leaders before the entire city the Kedushah is first transferred to the money and then removed from the money by the authority of the seven leaders before the entire city. (M. KORNFELD)
4) HALACHAH: THE COVERINGS OF A HOLY OBJECT
OPINIONS: Rava says that the coverings of Chumashim and of Sifrei Torah are considered Tashmishei Kedushah. Therefore, when they wear out they may not be discarded or used for other purposes, but they must be placed into Genizah.
The Gemara asks that such coverings obviously are Tashmishei Kedushah. What does Rava intend to teach? The Gemara answers that one might have thought that these coverings are not made with intention to give honor to the Sefarim but rather merely to protect them, and thus they are not considered Tashmishei Kedushah. Rava teaches that they are Tashmishei Kedushah.
The Gemara's conclusion is unclear. Does the Gemara mean to say that Rava teaches that these coverings indeed are made to give honor to the Sefarim and thus they are Tashmishei Kedushah, or that even though they are made only to protect the Sefarim they still have the status of Tashmishei Kedushah?
(a) The OR ZARU'A (cited by the HAGAHOS ASHIRI and MORDECHAI) explains that Rava's intention is to teach that these coverings are made to give honor to the Sefarim.
The Or Zaru'a therefore rules that an Aron ha'Kodesh which is formed by constructing an indentation in the wall of the synagogue for the purpose of protecting the Sefer Torah is not considered a Tashmish Kedushah, since its main purpose is to protect the Sefer Torah and not to honor it.
(b) The BI'UR HALACHAH (OC 154, DH Aval Aron) cites other Rishonim (ME'IRI, RABEINU YERUCHAM) who explain that Rava means that even though these coverings are made only for the purpose of protecting the Sefarim, nevertheless they are considered Tashmishei Kedushah.
According to this explanation, an Aron ha'Kodesh built into the wall of the synagogue must be treated like any other Tashmish Kedushah, since something made to protect a Sefer Torah is also considered a Tashmish Kedushah.
HALACHAH: The REMA (OC 154:3) rules like the Or Zaru'a with regard to an Aron ha'Kodesh formed by making an indentation in the wall of the synagogue. The MISHNAH BERURAH (154:16), however, points out that if a beautiful Aron ha'Kodesh is built in the indentation, it certainly gives honor to the Torah and is considered a Tashmish Kedushah.
(The Rema's ruling may apply to the common practice in many Yeshivos and Batei Midrash in Eretz Yisrael today which keep their Sifrei Torah in a large, steel safe inside the Aron ha'Kodesh. This steel Aron does not give honor to the Sefer Torah but merely protects it, and therefore it should not be considered a Tashmish Kedushah.)