Lecture 94: The Screens, the Entrance to the Courtyard, the Entrance to the Ohel Mo'ed, and the Veil

  • Rav Yitzchak Levy

Mikdash

 

LECTURE 94: THE SCREENS, THE ENTRANCE TO THE COURTYARD, THE ENTRANCE TO THE OHEL MO'ED, AND THE VEIL

 

Rav Yitzchak Levi

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

            Thus far, we have dealt with the relationship between the various names of the Mishkan and their meanings, and we have examined the meaning of the various coverings. To complete the picture, we wish now to consider the various screens in the Mishkan - the screen at the entrance to the courtyard, the screen at the entrance to the Ohel Mo'ed, and the veil (parokhet) separating between the Holy and the Holy of Holies – and we will, examine what may be learned from them about their essential nature and meaning.

 

            In general, it is possible to speak about three screens:

 

1)            The screen at the entrance to the courtyard constitutes the entranceway from outside of the Mishkan to the courtyard of the Mishkan.

2)            The screen at the entrance to the Ohel Mo'ed serves as an entranceway into the structure itself, from the courtyard of the Mishkan to the Holy.

3)            The veil separates between the Holy and the Holy of Holies.

 

An examination of the three screens and of the entrances through which one may enter from east to west, from outside the complex itself to the Holy of Holies, allows us to see gradation from the outside inwards.

 

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE VARIOUS SCREENS

 

            All three screens were made out of blue, and purple, and scarlet and fine twined linen. The veil was a work of artistry (ma'aseh choshev) designed with keruvim, while the screen of the Ohel Mo'ed and the screen of the courtyard were works of embroidery (ma'aseh rokem).

 

Regarding the pillars supporting the screens:

 

  • The pillars of the veil were 4 pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold, and they had hooks of gold (Shemot 36:37).

 

  • The pillars of the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed – In the command, there were 5 pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold and with hooks of gold (Shemot 26:37), and in the execution there were 5 pillars and hooks, with their capitals and joints overlaid with gold.

 

  • The pillars of the gate of the courtyard were four pillars and hooks, with capitals and joints overlaid with silver.

 

Regarding the sockets:

 

  • The sockets of the veil were sockets of silver, like the silver sockets of all the pillars of the Mishkan.

 

  • The sockets of the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed were sockets of silver.

 

  • The sockets of the gate of the courtyard were sockets of brass, like all the sockets of the pillars of the courtyard.

 

The figures:

 

On the veil, there were keruvim, but there is no explicit mention of any figures on the other screens.

 

The measurements:

 

Precise measurements are only mentioned with respect to the screen of the gate of the courtyard: twenty cubits wide and high.

 

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE DIFFERENCES

 

A. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WORK OF ARTISTRY AND A WORK OF EMBROIDERY

 

            The Torah describes the veil separating between the Holy and the Holy of Holies and the avnet of the High Priest as "ma'aseh choshev," a work of artistry. In contrast, other articles in the Mishkan, such as the screen of the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed and the screen of the gate of the courtyard, are "ma'aseh rokem," a work of embroidery. The gemara discusses the relationship between these two categories:

 

A work of embroidery, a work of artistry. R. Elazar said: Those embroidered over what they had traced. It was taught in the name of R. Nechemya: The embroiderer's work is needlework; therefore, it has only one [visible] figure. The artist's work is weaving work; therefore, it has two different figures. (Yoma 72b)

 

            According to R. Elazar, a figure would generally be traced on the fabric with some dye, and then the fabric would be embroidered with needlework, following the pattern. Sometimes, these decorations would be referred to by the dye work at the beginning, and sometimes they would be referred to by the embroidery work at the end.[1]

 

            In contrast, R. Nechemya maintains that "ma'aseh rokem" refers to needlework; in other words, they would embroider one figure that could be seen from both sides of the fabric. "Ma'aseh choshev," in contrast, refers to a work of weaving, where the figure is woven into the material when it is first made, rather than embroidered onto the material afterwards, and on each side of the fabric there was a different picture. A work of artistry is made in two layers, each layer with a different picture, and it is therefore possible for there to be a lion on one side and an eagle on the other. Thus explains Rashi (s.v. choshev ma'aseh oreg):

 

The cloth has two sides, with two figures on the two sides that are not similar one to the other. Sometimes, on this side there is a lion, while on the other side there is an eagle… And this is [the meaning of] "two different figures." But [in the case of] embroidery, as is the figure on this side, so is the figure on the other side.

 

In contrast to this explanation, the Rambam offers a different understanding:

 

Whenever the Torah uses the term "a work of embroidery," the intent is that the design which is woven will be seen on one side of the fabric. When it uses the term "a work of artistry," the intent is that the design will be seen on both sides of the fabric, front and back. (Hilkhot Kelei Ha-Mikdash 8:15)

 

            The fact that the three screens are made of identical fabric and the differences between the veil made as a work of artistry with keruvim and the screens of the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed and at the gate of the courtyard made as works of embroidery teach that the entranceways leading from outside inwards have significance that stems from the destination to which they lead. Therefore, the three screens are made of blue and purple and scarlet and fine twined linen – materials that are identical in form and importance to the curtains of the Mishkan - but the veil is identical in the way it is made to the curtains of the Mishkan – a work of artistry with keruvim - whereas the other screens are made as works of embroidery.

 

            An additional point regarding the relationship between a work of artistry and a work of embroidery is made by the Meshekh Chokhma:

 

Since there is no partition between the Holy of Holies and the Heikhal, therefore the veil was a work of artistry, to allude to the difference between the one side of the veil and the other side of the veil, and therefore there was a lion on the one side and an eagle on the other. This was not the case with the screen of the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed and the screen of the gate of the courtyard, which were "works of embroidery" (26:36), where there were partitions between the inside and the outside. And therefore they were in doubt regarding the place of the partitions themselves, wherever it has the sanctity of outside or the sanctity of inside (see Yoma 51b). And therefore the High Priest, who is called Holy of Holies, and his virtue is that he enters to burn incense in the most innermost chamber, where the barrier is with a work of artistry, and not a partition – therefore his garments – the efod and the choshen – are made as works of artistry. And the ketonet, the mitznefet and the avnet (28:39), regarding which he is the same as a plain priest, which points to the approach to the altar that stands in the courtyard – are made as works of embroidery. (Shemot 26:31)

 

            The Meshekh Chokhma notes one of the essential differences between the veil that separates between the Holy and the Holy of Holies on the one hand and the screen of the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed and the screen of the gate of the courtyard on the other.

 

            The veil was a work of artistry, whereas the screen of the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed and the screen of the gate of the courtyard were works of embroidery. As we have seen, Rashi explains that "a work of embroidery" involves embroidery on the two sides, where the figures on the two sides are not the same, and in this case a lion on the one side and an eagle on the other. The Meshekh Chokhma explains that since there is no built-up partition between the Holy and the Holy of Holies, the veil that separates between the two parts of the same structure serves as a partition. This is the reason, in his opinion, that the veil was a work of embroidery – the fact that there were figures on both sides delineates the difference between the two sides of the veil, in this case between the Holy and the Holy of Holies.

 

In contrast, regarding the screen of the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed and the screen of the gate of the courtyard, the fabric constitutes a partition between inside and outside (in the case of the screen of the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed, between the courtyard and the structure of the Mishkan, and in the case of the screen of the gate of the courtyard, between what is outside the Mishkan and what is inside the Mishkan complex and the courtyard of the Mishkan). Therefore, these two screens are works of embroidery, rather than works of artistry, as the screen itself constitutes a partition. There is no need to fashion the screen in such a way that it can serve as a partition, because the screen itself sufficiently separates between inside and outside. They are therefore works of embroidery. (This is the reason, in his opinion, that the gemara in Yoma is in doubt regarding the place of the veil and whether it has the sanctity of inside or outside.)

 

The Meshekh Chokhma later adds an important comment regarding the relationship between the priestly garments and the places into which the priest enters. The High Priest, who alone enters into the Holy of Holies past the veil that is a “work of artistry,” enters with the choshen and the efod, which are also “works of artistry” (see Shemot 25:6 regarding the efod and Shemot 28:15 regarding the choshen). From here we see that there is a connection between the heightened status of the High Priest and his garments and the place he may enter, and its practical expression is found both in the efod and in the choshen and in the veil past which he enters.

 

            It may be noted that there is also a connection between the elevated status of the High Priest and the inner curtains of the Mishkan, which are also works of artistry (Shemot 26:1). This correspondence determines a special relationship between the High Priest and the curtains of the Mishkan, and this accords with what we have already seen[2] - the term "Mishkan" primarily relates to the Holy of Holies and corresponds to the status of the High Priest, and thus there is a correspondence between the inner curtain, the Mishkan, and the veil that separates between the Holy and the Holy of Holies, on the one hand, and the High Priestly garments – the efod and the choshen – on the other.

 

            In contrast to the veil, which is made as a work of artistry, the screen of the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed and the screen of the gate of the courtyard are made as works of embroidery, and are thus similar in the way they are made to the garments of an ordinary priest – the ketonet, the mitznefet, and the avnet, all of which are made as works of embroidery (as is explicitly stated in Shemot 28:39). In other words, the status of an ordinary priest is not appropriate for service under the curtains of the Mishkan and behind the veil, which is exclusively reserved for the High Priest, but rather it is appropriate for service at the altar standing in the courtyard.[3]

 

            In light of what has been said, how can we account for the fact that the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed, which leads into the sanctified structure, is also a work of embroidery? Surely we have already proposed that the Mishkan itself is designated primarily for the service of the High Priest, whereas the courtyard is the site of the service of the ordinary priest.

 

            It may be suggested that this fact stems from the altar's location precisely alongside the entrance. The entrance's importance stems from its proximity to the altar, and not just from the possibility of its being used as an entry into the Ohel Mo'ed.

 

            This gradation as one enters deeper into the Holy is also evident in the difference between the pillars of the screen of the gate of the courtyard, which had hooks and joints of silver like the rest of the pillars of the courtyard, and the pillars of the screen of the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed, which is overlaid with gold like all the boards of the Mishkan. The same is true of the sockets: The sockets of the screen of the gate of the courtyard are brass like all the other sockets of the courtyard, whereas the sockets of the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed are silver.

 

            The veil, whose function is to separate between the Holy and the Holy of Holies, is connected in its very essence to the Holy of Holies, and there is therefore great similarity between it and the inner curtain – the Mishkan – and it is made as a work of artistry with keruvim and with pillars overlaid with gold and having silver sockets.

 

            The screen of the gate of the courtyard, which enables entry from outside inside, belongs in its essence to the courtyard, and therefore it is similar to it in its essentials. Its pillars are identical to the pillars of the courtyard, with hooks and joints of silver and sockets of copper.

 

B. THE UNIQUENESS OF THE SCREEN OF THE GATE OF THE COURTYARD

 

            The uniqueness of the screen of the gate of the courtyard is exceedingly striking. The hangings of the courtyard were made exclusively of twined linen, whereas the screen was made of blue, purple, scarlet, and twined linen. Why was the screen so magnificent? The Netziv explains as follows:

 

… One may learn [from this] that at the beginning of a person's entry into holiness, even though he hasn't reached the depth [of holiness] and he is still outside, and he conducts himself as is fit outside, nevertheless, at the beginning of his entry, he must sanctify himself so that afterwards at some later point he will reach his place of holiness. For this reason, there is blue at the door of the courtyard, which brings to mind the Throne of Glory. Even though afterwards when he stands in the courtyard, he is still outside with respect to the Heikhal, nevertheless, upon entering he must sanctify himself. (Shemot 27:16)

 

            The Netziv expands upon this idea in his commentary to Parashat Vayakhel:

 

"A work of embroidery, blue, etc." Everywhere it [first] says the materials out of which the thing is made, and afterward the manner of its making. And so too it is written regarding the command with respect to the gate of the courtyard. But here, in the execution, it is written in reverse (and so too below 39:22, and it will be explained there). It seems that it comes to teach [us] that Betzalel wised up to make the embroidery with greater splendor than in the Heikhal, even though [the latter] was more holy. And so too in the Temple, the Nikanor Gate was very marvelous, more so than the gate of the Heikhal. This is because at the beginning of one's entry, one should do this. (Shemot 38:18)

 

The Netziv notes here an interesting point. Already at the screen of the entrance of the courtyard we find the colors blue and purple and scarlet and twined linen that characterize the more sanctified area (both that of the screen of the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed and that of the veil) and that differ in their very essence from the hangings of the courtyard. This reflects the need to sanctify oneself when one is still outside, in anticipation of the entry into the more sanctified place. Even though the more inner parts are holier, the outer entrance is marked by magnificence. Similarly, in the Temple, the Nikanor Gate was more splendid than the gate of the Heikhal. We are, of course, dealing here with gradation from the outside inwards.

 

C. THE STATUS OF THE SCREEN OF THE DOOR OF THE OHEL MO'ED

 

            The screen of the door of the Ohel Mo'ed is an intermediate stage of barrier between the courtyard and the Mishkan, and therefore in its very essence it combines outside and inside - the screen of the gate of the courtyard and the veil.

 

            On the one hand, the pillars are pillar of shittim wood overlaid with gold like all the boards of the Mishkan, and therefore in a certain sense it is an integral part of the Mishkan. On the other hand, however, the copper sockets bind it to the courtyard and the pillars of the hangings of the courtyard, whose sockets were of copper.

 

            It is possible to explain that the screen of the door of the Ohel Mo'ed embraced both the components of Holy of the Mishkan, on the one hand, and the direct connection to the altar and to the sacrifices that are offered at the door of the Ohel Mo'ed, on the other.

 

            In this sense, this door is exceedingly important, both with respect to the outside - the altar and the sacrifices - and with respect to the inside, as an entrance to the structure of the Mishkan. This is another example that clearly shows that every detail in the account of the structure of the Mishkan has significance. The form, the material, and the location all reflect the objective of the spaces and components of the Mishkan.

 

            In this context, the Netziv has an interesting comment relating to the screen of the door of the Ohel Mo'ed. While comparing the pillars of the screen of the door of the Ohel Mo'ed to the pillars of the veil, the Netziv notes (in his commentary to Shemot 26:37) that with respect to the pillars of the screen it says: "And you shall make for the screen (la-masakh) five pillars of shittim wood," whereas regarding the pillars of the veil it says: "And you shall hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon four sockets of silver" (Shemot 26:32). The veil is to be hung upon four pillars, whereas five pillars had to be made for the screen.

 

            The Netziv concludes that the fashioning of the pillars of the screen involved a step not found in the fashioning of the pillars of the veil.

 

            The Netziv demonstrates a difference between the command regarding the pillars of the screen of the door of the Ohel Mo'ed and the execution. In the command, the Torah says:

 

And you shall make for the screen five pillars of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, and their hooks shall be of gold. (Shemot 26:37)

 

But in the execution, only the capitals and the joints are overlaid with gold:

 

And the five pillars of it with their hooks: and he overlaid their capitals and their joints with gold: but their five sockets were of copper. (Shemot 36:38)

 

            In light of this, he explains that in addition to the general overlaying of the pillars, there was also an overlaying at the capitals: "That they made a joint that projected outwards at the top of the pillar, and he also overlaid the capital and the joint with gold, in addition to the general overlaying."

 

D. THE VEIL

 

And you shall make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen with keruvim shall it be made of artistic work, and you shall hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold; their hooks shall be of gold, upon four sockets of silver. And you shall hang up the veil under the clasps, that you may bring in there within the veil the ark of the Testimony. And the veil shall be for you as a division between the Holy and the Holy of Holies. (Shemot 26:31-33)

 

1) THE MEANING OF THE NAME

 

            As opposed to the screen of the door of the Ohel and the screen of the gate of the courtyard, both of which are called "masakh" (screen), the veil that separates between the Holy and the Holy of Holies is called a "parokhet" (veil), rather than a "masakh."

 

            Rashi explains in his commentary to the above verses that "parokhet" denotes a barrier – or as Chazal called it, a "pargod" – that which separates between the king and his people.

 

            This is also the way the term was understood by R. S.R. Hirsch. The parokhet was meant to separate, as explicitly stated in verse 33.

 

            In Shemot 39:34, the parokhet is called "parokhet ha-masakh." This expression is explained in a later verse: "And you shall put in it the ark of the Testimony, ve-sakota … ha-parokhet before the ark" (Shemot 40:3).

 

R. Sa'adya Gaon explains "ve-sakota" as "va-astar" - and you shall conceal.

 

            Rashi – a term denoting protection, for it served as a barrier.

 

            Chizkuni – a term denoting a hedge and barrier, as in "Behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns" (Hoshea 2:8).

 

            From all these verses, it is clear that the parokhet played two roles: it separated between the Holy and the Holy of Holies and it protected the ark.

 

            Indeed, in Bamidbar 4:5, in the account of the service of the descendants of Kehat in the Ohel Mo'ed in the preparations for journeying, it says, "And when the camp sets forward, Aharon shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the veil of the screen, and cover the ark of the Testimony with it."

 

            This also follows from the gemara in Sukka, which discusses the view of R. Yoshiya:

 

Because it is written: "And you shall cover the ark with the veil." Now since the veil was a partition and the Torah nevertheless called it a "covering," it is evident that a wall must be as [close] as the covering. And [how do] the Rabbis [explain this verse]? It means that the veil should bend over a little [at the top] so that it might look like a covering. (Sukka 7b)

 

Rashi explains (ad loc.):

 

The parokhet served as a partition, as it is written: "And the parakhot shall separate for you" (Shemot 26:33). And the Rabbis will say to you: What is [the meaning of] "ve-sakota"? The Torah says to bend over a little at the top, to make a little of it into a roof.

 

The gemara sharpens the point that despite the fact that the parokhet serves as a partition that separates, it serves also as a covering, and part of it is like a roof.

 

2) THE POSITIONING OF THE VEIL DEFINES THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE HOLY AND THE HOLY OF HOLIES

 

            An interesting point regarding the veil lies in its importance in defining the relationship between the Holy and the Holy of Holies. In this framework, the relationship between the Holy and the Holy of Holies is indirectly learned from the positioning of the veil.

 

As we saw in earlier shiurim, the curtains of the Mishkan were made of two parts, each twenty cubits wide, that were joined together by way of clasps. Since the Mishkan was 30 cubits long, it may be inferred that one curtain extended 20 cubits westward from the door of the Ohel Mo'ed to the place of the clasps, and the second curtain covered the ten westernmost cubits of the roof and also the boards on the western side. Thus, the clasps divided the Mishkan into an eastern section 20 cubits long, this being the Holy, and a western section 10 cubits long, this being the Holy of Holies. The veil which was positioned directly below the clasps divided the structure into two parts.

 

3) BLUE, PURPLE, SCARLET AND TWINED LINEN, A WORK OF ARTISTRY

 

            The Torah says that the veil was to be made of “blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen with keruvim shall it be made of artistic work." It is interesting that regarding the curtains of the Mishkan, it says that they were made "of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, with keruvim of artistic work."

 

            In the case of the veil, we start with the blue, and purple, and scarlet, and add the fine twined linen, whereas in the case of the curtains, we start with the fine twined linen and add the blue, the purple, and the scarlet. Similarly, in the case of the veil, is should be made with keruvim, an artistic work, whereas in the case of the curtains, the keruvim are the artistic work.

 

            The Netziv discusses the significance of these differences:

 

"Fine twined linen, and blue, etc." With respect to the veil and the screen it says (vv. 31, 36): "Blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen." For whatever is written first is primary. Even though each of them had 24 threads, six of each type, nevertheless, they were not all of the same thickness. In the curtains, it was mainly linen, whereas in the veil and in the screen, it was mainly blue. And it is well known that blue points to a great and elevated matter of holiness, as I wrote in the book of Bamidbar regarding the journey of the camps.

"Keruvim, an artistic work." And with respect to the veil, it says: "It shall be made of artistic work with keruvim" (v. 31). There is a difference in the manner in which they were made. For in the case of the curtains, it was not necessary to think out from the beginning that the figure that he begins to make should finish on the same curtain, for it will be attached to the other one, and the figure can end there. This was not the case regarding the veil, for there it was necessary to think out from the beginning what figure he will make, so that it not end in the middle of the figure. Therefore, regarding the curtains it says first "keruvim" and afterwards "an artistic work," whereas regarding the veil it says the opposite, first "an artistic work" and afterwards "keruvim." (Shemot 26:1)

 

            The Meshekh Chokhma offers a different explanation as to why the word order is different in the two cases:

 

"And all wise-hearted men among them that carried out the work made the Mishkan… with keruvim of artistic work he made them." And regarding the veil (below, v. 35): "And he made a veil… with keruvim he made it, of artistic work." And so too in the command it is written with this wording in Parashat Teruma (above 26:31), for regarding the veil it is written, "With keruvim shall it be made of artistic work." The idea is that regarding the curtains of the Mishkan, the primary intention was to make attractive pictures, and this was the pictures of the keruvim. But regarding the veil, the intention was different, that it had to be aligned with the place of the keruvim on the ark, so that they should know how to identify the place of the keruvim, and especially with the sprinkling of the blood of the bullock sacrificed because of an unwitting transgression committed by the community as a whole (Vayikra 5; Bamidbar 15), that the place of the veil must correspond to between the poles, and so too regarding the sprinkling of blood on Yom Kippur (Vayikra 16). See Mishneh Le-Melekh, Hilkhot Ma'aseh Ha-Korbanot, chap. 5. And in the Temple, they extended the ends of the poles and they would stick out like the two breasts of a woman. See Yoma 54a on this matter. And these keruvim without any other picture corresponded to the place of the keruvim on the kaporet.  (Shemot 36:8)

 

The Meshekh Chokhma proposes that the keruvim on the veil are located in perfect alignment with the keruvim in the Holy of Holies. According to him, this point has practical ramifications regarding the sprinkling of the blood of the bull sacrificed because of an unwitting transgression committed by the community as a whole and the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrifices offered on Yom Kippur. In the Mikdash, the ends of the poles of the ark that stood out like a woman's breasts served this function.

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE VEIL AND THE CURTAINS OF THE MISHKAN

 

            The Ralbag says that even though both the veil and the curtains of the Mishkan were made of twenty-four threads (six threads each of linen, blue, purple and scarlet), when the work is very thick, it is called "parokhet." The Ralbag cites Chazal, who said that the veil was a handbreadth thick. According to the Ralbag, this was in contrast to the other curtains of the Mishkan, which were not a handbreadth thick.

 

            This is also the Seforno's understanding in his commentary to Shemot 36:8 - the curtains of the Mishkan were not as thick as the veil. The Abarbanel (Shemot 26:31-33), however, maintains that the curtains of the Mishkan and the veil were equally thick.

 

            It is clear then that both the Ralbag and the Abravanel disagree with the Netziv.[4]

 

            R. Meir Spiegelman suggests another explanation of the difference between the veil and the curtains of the Mishkan. [5] He understands that the curtains of the Mishkan were comprised of a linen base, and that the keruvim of blue, purple and scarlet were woven into the fabric, whereas the veil was comprised of a base of blue, purple, and scarlet, and that linen keruvim were woven into the fabric. It is clear that the blue is more important than linen, because blue was found in the Mishkan itself, whereas in the courtyard there was linen, but no blue.

 

            What stood out as exceptions were the screen of the gate of the courtyard and the screen of the door of the Ohel Mo'ed, which were made of blue, purple, and scarlet. As we mentioned above, it is possible to explain this in light of the fact that these openings lead directly to the Mishkan, and in this sense they are regarded as part of the Mishkan, despite the fact that in the courtyard and in the door of the Ohel Mo'ed there was no blue, purple, or scarlet. According to this approach, the Mishkan includes, as it were, the entrances that lead to it from the outer gate of the courtyard of the Ohel Mo'ed, through the gate of the door of the Ohel Mo'ed, and until the veil that separates between the Holy and the Holy of Holies.

 

            Therefore, for the curtains of the Mishkan, the primary significance lay in the keruvim, and therefore they were made of blue woven into a base fabric of linen. As for the veil, the primary significance lay in the veil itself, which served as a partition, and therefore it was made of blue, whereas the keruvim were of lesser importance and so they were made of linen.

 

SUMMARY

 

            In this lecture, we tried to survey the various characteristics of the screens in the Mishkan, as well as the differences between them. We did not pretend to encompass in this lecture all of the issues connected to the screen of the gate of the courtyard, the screen of the door of the Ohel Mo'ed, and the veil.

 

            It is possible to greatly expand upon each of the issues regarding the materials, the pillars, the way the screen was attached, the dimensions, the shape, etc. We related to several aspects relating to the purpose and function of each screen, in consideration of the differences between them and the meaning of those differences. Our analysis demonstrated that every detail of the Mishkan is significant, and precisely directed at filling its purpose.

 

(Translated by David Strauss)



[1] As Rashi explains, s.v. she-rokemin be-makom she-choshevin: "At the beginning, he traces a figure on the fabric with dye, and afterwards he embroiders it with a needle." And similarly the Mishneh Le-Melekh on the Rambam, Hilkhot Kelei Ha-Mikdash 8:15.

[2] In shiur no. 88, regarding the word Mishkan.

[3] According to this understanding, the service in the Mishkan itself was performed by the High Priest, whereas the outer service in the courtyard and on the altar was performed by an ordinary priest. We shall adduce proofs to this distinction in one of the coming shiurim.

[4] Regarding Yalkut Shimoni (Pikudei, 424), he lists the things in the Mishkan made of gold, and says that some of the gold was taken for the veil, and that this is the view of R. Yose, who maintains that this was done both for the curtains of the Mishkan and for the veil. The Malbim writes similarly in his explanation of the Yalkut Shimoni, Pikudei 424.

This, of course, is exceedingly interesting - both curtains and the veil contained gold, something that is not stated explicitly in the verses.

[5] In his VBM shiur on Parashat Teruma.