QUESTION: The Beraisa states that if any of the measurements of the Mizbe'ach (length, width, or height) is not exactly as described in the verse, the Mizbe'ach still may be used and the Korbanos brought upon it are not considered Pasul.

However, this seems to contradict the Gemara in Sanhedrin (16b). The Gemara there teaches that the words, "like all that I show you... and so shall you do," in the verse that describes the building of the Mishkan (Shemos 25:9) teaches that the instructions described by the Torah for the construction of all of the vessels in the Beis ha'Mikdash should be followed for all generations. Rashi (to Shemos 25:9) elaborates on this and explains that if a vessel becomes lost, or a new vessel is made for the Beis ha'Mikdash (such as the Shulchan, Menorah, Mizbe'ach, etc.), then the new vessel should be made in the form described by the Torah. This implies that there is an obligation to make the vessels of the Beis ha'Mikdash in the same form as those in the Mishkan. How is that Gemara to be reconciled with the Beraisa here which says that the wrong measurements do not disqualify the Mizbe'ach?


(a) The RE'EM (to Shemos 25:9) answers that Rashi does not mean that the vessels of both the Mishkan and the Beis ha'Mikdash must be exactly the same size. Rather, he explains that Rashi means that the length and width must be of a similar ratio. Just as the Mizbe'ach of Moshe Rabeinu was a square of five by five Amos, so, too, the Mizbe'ach of Shlomo was a square, of twenty by twenty Amos.

Even though the ratio of the height of Shlomo's Mizbe'ach did not match the ratio of the height of Moshe's Mizbe'ach, the Re'em asserts that there must have been an oral tradition passed down from Moshe Rabeinu teaching that the verse means that only the length and width should be of an equal ratio, and not the height.

The Re'em supports his explanation from the words of TOSFOS in Shabbos (98b, DH Dal). The Gemara there states that the width of the Mishkan was ten Amos. Tosfos asks how the Gemara knows this, and he quotes the RI who answers that the width of the Mishkan can be derived from the measurements of the Beis ha'Mikdash. The measurements of the Beis ha'Mikdash were sixty Amos long and twenty Amos wide; its width was one third of its length. The length of the Mishkan was thirty Amos. It follows, proportionately, that the width of the Mishkan was ten Amos, or a third of its length. According to the Re'em, this is in fulfillment of the verse that requires the Beis ha'Mikdash to be similar in measurement to the Mishkan.

(b) The GUR ARYEH and the OR HA'CHAIM answer that the verse (Shemos 25:9) refers only to the form of the vessels and not to the structure of the Beis ha'Mikdash itself. This is apparent from the much larger Beis ha'Mikdash built by Shlomo. The Mizbe'ach built by Shlomo was connected to the ground, thereby making it a structural item -- part of the Beis ha'Mikdash itself -- which did not need to adhere to the measurements of the movable Mizbe'ach of the Mishkan.

(c) Alternatively, the Or ha'Chaim answers that the Gemara here teaches that the Torah says that certain things are necessary components of the Mizbe'ach, such as the corners (Keranos), the ramp, the Yesod, and the requirement that it must be square. The Gemara derives this from the fact that the Torah says "ha'Mizbe'ach" with regard to all of these components, indicating that they are essential components of the Mizbe'ach. The fact that the Torah does not say "ha'Mizbe'ach" with regard to the measurements of the Mizbe'ach teaches that the Torah specifically does not make the exact measurements an essential requirement. This is the source that the Mizbe'ach in the Beis ha'Mikdash does not have to be the same size as its counterpart in the Mishkan, unlike the other vessels which must be like their counterparts in the Mishkan. (Y. MONTROSE)



QUESTION: The title "Bnei Keturah" is used in reference to two groups of people. Earlier (62a), Rav Yosef uses this title to refer to the people who erroneously dismissed his statement. The Gemara here (62b) relates another incident involving the nephews of Rebbi Tarfon. The nephews were sitting with Rebbi Tarfon in silence (see SHITAH MEKUBETZES #1), and Rebbi Tarfon quoted the verse, "va'Yosef Avraham va'Yikach Ishah u'Shemah Keturah" -- "and Avraham took an additional wife, and her name was Keturah" (Bereishis 25:1). However, instead of quoting the verse as it is written and saying, "Keturah," he said, "and her name was Yochani." His nephews corrected him and said, "It says 'Keturah'!" He replied that they themselves are "Bnei Keturah." What is the significance of this remark?


(a) RASHI (DH Bnei Keturah) explains that Rebbi Tarfon was telling his nephews that they are like sons of Avraham, but not like the offspring of Yitzchak and Yakov.

What does Rashi mean? What exactly did they do that made them only like the other descendants of Avraham, and not like the descendants of Yitzchak and Yakov? Moreover, the MAHARSHA asks, according to this explanation, why did Rebbi Tarfon not call them "Bnei Esav"?

(b) The MAHARSHA writes that the Gemara may be understood based on the opinion of the RAMBAM (Hilchos Melachim 10:8). The Rambam states that Bnei Keturah are still commanded to perform Milah (unlike the opinion of Rashi, who maintains that they are not commanded to perform Milah). According to the Rambam, perhaps the reason why Rebbi Tarfon referred to his nephews as "Bnei Keturah" was in order to tell them that merely having a Bris Milah does not make them unique, since Bnei Keturah, who are not Jewish, also must have a Milah.

(c) Alternatively, the Maharsha explains that this could have been merely a way of rebuking them, as is found in other places in the Gemara (see Insights to Bava Kama 65:2 and Zevachim 25:2). Why, though, did he choose to rebuke them with the term "Bnei Keturah" and not "Bnei Esav"? Since Esav was a Rasha, Rebbi Tarfon did not want to slight his brother by calling his nephews the sons of Esav. Keturah, however, was actually Hagar, who was not a Rasha. This is apparent from the Midrash Tanchuma (ch. 8) which asks that if her real name was Hagar, then why does the Torah call her Keturah and not Hagar? The Midrash answers that the Torah is teaching that her actions were pleasing like Ketores. Rebbi Tarfon wanted to rebuke them in an honorable way, and, therefore, he used the term "Bnei Keturah."

It is interesting to note that the Maharsha does not explain why Rav Yosef -- who was not referring to his own nephews when he used the term "Bnei Keturah" -- did not use any other term, such as "Bnei Esav." Although one may suggest that such a term would not have been appropriate for non-relatives as well, this does not seem to be the intention of the Maharsha.

The TZON KODASHIM explains that Rav Yosef wanted to convey a specific message by calling them "Bnei Keturah." Rav Yosef meant to teach (as Abaye interpreted his view) that the Ma'arachah (where the fire was located) of the Mizbe'ach of Moshe Rabeinu was one Amah. The students misunderstood his statement as a reference to the entire Mizbe'ach, which the Torah says was much larger than one Amah. Rav Yosef was alluding to the lesson taught by Bar Kapara in the Midrash (Bereishis Rabah 61:4). Bar Kapara teaches that whenever Hash-m gives a primary object and a secondary object, the secondary object is larger than the primary one. One of his examples is that of Yishmael and the Bnei Keturah. Yishmael was the primary son of Avraham from Hagar, and yet the secondary sons, the Bnei Keturah, were much greater in number than Yishmael. Rav Yosef was alluding to the students' error. His statement was a reference to the main part of the Mizbe'ach, not to the secondary parts. In choosing to think only of the other parts of the Mizbe'ach, the students were looking at the secondary addition, which is comparable to the role of Bnei Keturah relative to Yishmael.

(d) The PANIM ME'IROS explains that Rav Yosef's comment was directly related to the subject matter under discussion. The Gemara earlier (59b) records a dispute between Rebbi Yehudah and Rebbi Yosi b'Rebbi Yehudah with regard to the size of the Ma'arachah (see Rashi there, DH Elef and DH Af). Rav Yosef ruled like Rebbi Yosi who said that the Ma'arachah was one Amah. The students who argued with Rav Yosef followed the view of Rebbi Yehudah who said that the Ma'arachah itself was six square Amos, which is why they could not understand how Rav Yosef could say that it was only one Amah. The Gemara (60a) explains that, according to Rebbi Yehudah, the entire floor of the Azarah must have the same degree of Kedushah as the Mizbe'ach. Rav Yosef responded to these students that they are "Bnei Keturah"; he used the word "Keturah" in the sense of "burning." He was declaring that if the students cannot understand his statement, then it is because they follow the view of Rebbi Yehudah who says that Korbanos may be burned in a large area, even on the floor of the Azarah.

The Panim Me'iros explains that when Rebbi Tarfon called his nephews "Bnei Keturah," he used the word "Keturah" in the sense of being "tied" ("Kashur," or "Katur" in Aramaic). He wanted to rebuke them for not speaking about Torah matters. To rebuke them, he called them people whose mouths are "tied up." (See Bereishis Rabah 61:4, where the Midrash also translates "Keturah" in such a manner.)

(e) The KEREN ORAH bases his explanation on the Midrash ha'Ne'elam. The Midrash states that possessing a logical cognitive process -- which is used for thinking about and analyzing Torah issues -- is a trait which Avraham bequeathed only to Yitzchak. When the students misunderstood Rav Yosef, he criticized them as being "Bnei Keturah" -- they do not have correct thoughts in learning and are like Bnei Keturah who did not receive this trait from Avraham. Similarly, when Rebbi Tarfon saw that his nephews were sitting in silence, neither talking about Torah matters nor listening to someone talk about Torah matters, he was concerned that they were not using the ability of logical thought and analysis that was passed down to them as descendants of Yitzchak. Rebbi Tarfon alerted them to this concern by calling them "Bnei Keturah." (Y. MONTROSE)