Shiur #10: The History of the Resting of the Shekhina(Part I) - The Creation of the World and the Mikdash

  • Rav Yitzchak Levy
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Mikdash
Yeshivat Har Etzion


Shiur #10: The History of the Resting of the Shekhina (Part I)

The Creation of the World and the Mikdash

 

Rav Yitzchak Levi

 

 

            From now on, our lectures will deal with the history of the resting of God's Shekhina in the world from the time of creation until the revelation at Sinai. The first lecture will discuss the beginnings of the resting of the Shekhina – the creation of the world.

 

I.                   THE MIKDASH PRECEDED THE WORLD

 

Chazal assert in several places and in different formulations that the Mikdash preceded the creation of the world:

 

It was taught: The following seven things were created before the world: The Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehinom, the Throne of Glory, the Temple and the name of the Messiah… The Temple, as it is written: "A glorious throne exalted from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary" (Yirmiyahu 17:12). (Pesachim 54a)

 

Six things preceded the creation of the world. Some were created, some arose in thought to be created: The Torah and the Throne of Glory were created… The patriarchs, Israel, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah arose in thought to be created… The Temple, from where? As it is stated: "A glorious throne exalted from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary" (Yirmiyahu 17:12). (Bereishit Rabba 1, 4)

 

Rav Chizkiya sat before Rav Elazar. He said to him: How many lights were created before the world was created? He said to him: Seven, as follows: the light of Torah, the light of Gehinom, the light of the Garden of Eden, the light of the Throne of Glory, the light of the Temple, the light of repentance, and the light of the Messiah. (Zohar, Tzav, 34b)

 

When Chazal say that something preceded the creation of the world, they mean that it stands at the very foundation of the world and that it is connected to the purpose and objective of the world. This is similar to the thought that precedes action; essentially, these things represent the idea of the world. Indeed, all the items mentioned in the gemara in Pesachim – Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehinom, the Throne of Glory, and the Temple - involve a clear and felt Divine presence. This is certainly true of the Temple, which represents the presence of God in the material world.[1]

 

II.                THE TEMPLE AND THE CREATION OF THE WORLD

 

In various places, Chazal describe the physical connection between the creation of the world and the site of the Mikdash – Mount Moriya – and especially the even ha-shetiya (the "foundation stone") in its center. I wish to review some of these passages and explain them.

 

1. "From Which the World was Founded"

 

There was a stone there from the days of the early prophets, called shetiya, raised three fingers from the ground, upon which at first the ark rested. After the ark was removed, the incense brought into the innermost chamber was burned upon it. Rabbi Yose said: From it the world was founded, as it is stated: "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth" (Tehilim 50:2). (Tosefta, Yoma 2:14).

 

It was called shetiya. [A Tanna] taught: From it the world was founded. This was taught in accordance with the one who says: The world was created from Zion [Rashi: "Zion was created first, and clods of earth were attached around it in all directions until the far corners of the world."] For it was taught: …And the Sages say: It was created from Zion, as it is stated: "A psalm of Asaf. The mighty one, God, the Lord" (Tehilim 50:1); and it says: "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty" (ibid. v. 2) – from it the beauty of the world was perfected. (Yoma 54b)[2]

 

That which the verse states: "May He send you help from the sanctuary, and strengthen you out of Zion" (Tehilim 20:3). When the Holy One, blessed be He, will come to redeem Israel, He will redeem them only from Zion. Why? Because from the beginning it was from there that the world was perfected. As it is stated: "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth" (Tehilim 50:2). (Aggadat Bereishit, ed. Buber, 54a)

 

            The various midrashim describe the "foundation stone" as the core of all of creation, the Archimedean point from which the entire world was created. The Ramban also writes in his commentary to Bereishit 1:1 that God created the world ex nihilo from some starting point, "and it seems to me that this point… is what the Sages call the 'foundation stone,' from which the world was founded."

 

            This, then, is the point of origin of the entire world: the point that connects the Infinite to the finite, the spiritual to the material, and that embraces the entire plan for creation. It is absolutely clear, then, why it was precisely at this point that the Mikdash was constructed, since the essence of the Mikdash involves bringing together the entire world and raising it to its source, to God, and connecting the infinite Divine world to the finite human world.

 

            In light of this, we can well understand the special sanctity of the place, which stands, in a certain sense, above time and place.[3] Eternal sanctity rests in the place where expanse was created, at the site of the connection between ayin and yesh – nothingness and existence - and that connects beginning to end, the creation with the future redemption (as is found in Aggada Bereishit). The sanctity found there is a sanctity of place – and not the sanctity of the structure – because it depends on Divine choice; Divine choice is eternal, and not dependent on time and place. The revelations of this special sanctity vary over time, and prior to the days of David and Shlomo it was revealed at different times – to Adam in the Garden of Eden, to Kayin and Hevel, to Noach and to Avraham – even before it received halakhic validity.

 

            This sanctity is different in its essence from other sanctities of place. The sanctity of Mount Sinai and that of the different stops of the Mishkan were dependent upon revelation, and the sanctity of Eretz Yisrael is dependent upon conquest,[4] but the sanctity of the site of the Mikdash stems from the primal Divine connection to the place. As the Rambam writes: "Because the sanctity of the Temple and of Jerusalem is because of the Shekhina, and the Shekhina is never cancelled" (Hilkhot Bet ha-Bekhira 6:16).

 

            The Torah can therefore command, "There you shall seek Him, at His dwelling, and there shall you come" (Devarim 12:5), for the unique qualities of the place exist already from the time of the creation of the world, and Israel's mission is to seek it out and find it.

 

2. "The Navel of the Earth"

 

Other midrashim liken the Temple and the even ha-shetiya to a navel:

 

Just as the navel is placed at the center of the human body, so Eretz Yisrael is placed in the center of the world. As it is stated: "And that dwell at the navel of the earth" (Yechezkel 38:12). And from there the foundation of the world issues forth. As it is stated: "A psalm of Asaf. The mighty one, God, the Lord, has spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof" (Tehilim 50:1) – from where: "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth" (ibid. v. 2). Eretz Yisrael is located in the center of the world, and Jerusalem is in the center of Eretz Yisrael, and the Temple is in the center of Jerusalem, and the Heikhal is in the center of the Temple, and the ark is in the center of the Heikhal, and the even ha-shetiya is before the ark from which the world was founded. (Tanchuma, Kedoshim 10)

 

Therefore it is called even ha-shetiya, because from there is the navel of the earth, and to there the entire earth is stretched, and upon it the sanctuary of the Lord stands. As it is stated: "And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house" (Bereishit 28:22) (Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer, chap. 35; parallel in Midrash Tehilim 91)

 

The metaphor of a navel has another dimension, as well. It is through the navel that the fetus receives its nourishment and vitality, and without it the fetus cannot live. Similarly, the entire world receives its vitality from its connection to God; this takes place in the physical world at the site of the Mikdash. The Mikdash is not only the place from which the entire world was created; it also represents the fact that the world belongs to God. It is from there that He oversees the world and sustains it. Just as the fetus receives its nourishment and vitality through the navel, so, too, the entire world receives its bounty and blessing from the place of the Mikdash.

 

In previous lectures we saw various expressions of this idea of the Mikdash serving as the source of blessing in this world. Across the generations, the people of Israel brought the omer to the Mikdash on Pesach, from which blessing was bestowed on the grain, the two loaves on Shavuot, from which blessing was bestowed on the fruit of the trees, and the libation of water on Sukkot, from which blessing was bestowed upon the rainfall. The individual Jew brings his first fruits to the Mikdash and thanks God for the good earth that had been given him. This is all in the sense of: "For all things come of you, and of your own have we given you" (I Divrei Ha-yamim 29:14).

 

3.                  The Mikdash in the Center of the Settled World

 

The sources cited above raise another point: the Mikdash is the center of the world. The Maharal emphasizes this point in several places and notes a variety of meanings assigned to it:

 

And therefore the altar and the Temple were chosen for Divine service, there being the center of the settled world, not tending to the extremes, the extremes not being good… Because sin comes from inclining to one of the extremes, and since man was created from the middle, it is easy for him to return to the middle, to the place where he was created, and there sin is removed from him, sin being the inclination to one of the extremes. (Gur Arye on Bereishit 2:7, s.v. she-teheh lo kapara)

 

In his commentary to the dispute between Kayin and Hevel, the Maharal writes:

 

He who thinks that they were arguing over the Temple… in truth the Temple includes the forces of both Hevel and Kayin. This is evidenced by the fact that [the combination of] wool and linen is permitted in the Temple. Therefore, each of them desired the Temple… It is certainly fitting that they should disagree about the Temple, because it is in the center of the world and the middle is shared by the two extremes that are opposites. And therefore Kayin and Hevel, being the extremes, each desired the Temple common to both extremes. (ibid. 4:8, s.v. yesh ba-zeh midrashei aggada)

 

            And regarding Yaakov's ladder, he writes:

 

The Temple, inasmuch as it is the house of the Shekhina and man goes there to serve God, has these two sides relating to the upper and the lower worlds. It embraces everything. The celestial beings must not say, "This is ours," for it is [also] man's domain, and humans must not say, "This is ours," for it is the Temple of God. And therefore it is fitting that the Temple stand under the middle of the slope of the ladder, for the ladder is the interchange between upper and lower worlds, going from one side to the other, and the Temple embraces both under the middle of the ladder. Therefore, it is fitting and correct that the Temple be under the middle of the ladder. (ibid. 28:16, s.v. amar Rav Elazar)

 

In Gevurot Hashem, the Maharal writes:

 

The Temple is similar to the heart, which is found in all living creatures, for it is through the heart that all the organs receive their vitality, and so, too, the Temple gives life to the entire world. Therefore, the Temple is in the middle of the civilized world, just as the heart is in the middle of the body. (Gevurot Ha-Shem, chap. 71)[5]

 

What emerges from these various sources is that great importance is attached to the fact that Jerusalem, the Mikdash, and the altar are all in the center of the world. Moving towards the middle involves moving away from the extremes, which are connected to sin, and achieving atonement. The middle embraces everything, and unites heaven and earth; the Mikdash resembles a heart, which is in the center of the body, and bestows vitality upon the entire world.

 

"The principle of the middle" explains many mitzvot and laws connected to the Mikdash. Let me offer just three examples:

 

1) The mitzva of undertaking a pilgrimage on the Pilgrimage festivals, in accordance with which people from all over the world head out to and arrive in the middle, the heart, the Temple.

 

2) The ten levels of sanctity mentioned in the mishna (Keilim 1:6-9) are described as constructed out of ten circles, the innermost being the Holy of Holies – the midpoint from which the entire world receives its sanctity.

 

3) The Sanhedrin – the High Court, to which a person may turn if he did not receive an answer from a lower court (the court in his home town, the court sitting at the entrance to the Temple Mount, and the court sitting at the entrance to the Temple courtyard) – convenes in Lishkat Ha-gazit (the Chamber of Hewn Stones) adjacent to the altar (see Sanhedrin 11:2; Tosefta, Chagiga 2:9, Shekalim 3:27, Sanhedrin 7:1; Bavli, Sanhedrin 88b; Yerushalmi, Makkot 2:6). This allowed, and will again in the future allow, for the fulfillment of the words of the prophet: "For out of Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Yeshayahu 2:3; Mikha 4:2). Zion is the center, from which justice goes out to the entire world.

 

            Of course, this principle also accounts for the material blessing that the Temple bestows upon the entire world, as explained in the previous section.

 

III.       THE MIKDASH AS THE COMPLETION OF CREATION

 

            Another aspect of the connection between the creation of the world and the Mikdash is the idea that the Mishkan and the Mikdash are the goal of creation, and it was only with their construction that creation was completed. For example:

 

Another explanation: "So was ended all the work" (I Melakhim 7:51; II Divrei Ha-yamim 5:1) – it does not say here "the work," but rather "all the work:" the work of the six days of creation. "From all His work that God had created and formed (la-asot, lit. 'to form')" (Bereishit 2:3) – it does not say here "and formed," but rather "to form:" there is still another work. When Shlomo came and built the Temple, the Holy One, blessed be He, said: Now the work of heaven and earth is complete – "So was ended all the work." Therefore he was called Shlomo, for the Holy One, blessed be He, completed (hishlim) the work of the six days of creation through his handiwork. (Pesikta Rabbati, parasha 6)

 

Another explanation: "Who has established all the ends of the earth" (Mishlei 30:4) – this refers to Moshe, who established the Tent of Meeting, with which the world was established. It does not say "to set up the Mishkan," but rather "to set up with the Mishkan" (le-hakim et ha-mishkan" (Bamidbar 7:1) – the world was set up with it. For until the Mishkan was erected, the world was unstable; but after it was erected, the world became firm. Therefore it says: "And it came to pass on the day that Moshe had finished setting up (with) the Mishkan." (Midrash Mishlei, parasha 30, letter 4)

 

"To set up the Mishkan"… There we have learned (Avot 1:2): The world stands on three things – on the Torah, on the Divine service, and on acts of loving-kindness. And Moshe mentioned all three of them in one verse: "You in Your loving-kindness have led forth Your people whom you have redeemed" (Shemot 15:13) – this is loving-kindness; "You have guided them in Your strength" – this is the Torah…; "To Your holy habitation" – this is the service in the Mishkan and in the Mikdash… He guided them by virtue of the Torah which they had received before the erection of the Mishkan. What was the world like at that time? It was like a stool with two legs, which cannot stand and is unstable. When a third leg was made for it, it became firm and it stood. So, too, when the Mishkan was made… immediately, it became firm and stood. For at first the world had only two legs, loving-kindness and the Torah, and it was unstable. When a third leg was made for it, namely, the Mishkan, it immediately stood. (Bamidbar Rabba, parasha 12)[6]

 

            According to the midrashim, the Mishkan and the Mikdash are essentially a continuation of the creation and its completion. Before they were built, the world was lacking, and the goal of creation had not been attained. Moreover, before the Mikdash was built, the existence of the world was not absolute and stable, for the world rests, among other things, upon the Divine service, the heart of which is in the Temple.

 

IV.              PARALLELS BETWEEN THE CREATION OF THE WORLD AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE MISHKAN

 

This connection finds expression in Scripture in a number of stylistic parallels between the Mishkan and creation:

 

1)                          Both are called melakha, "work" (Bereishit 2:2-3; Shemot 31:3, 5; and many other places).

2)                          The root, ayin-sin-heh, repeats itself many times in both contexts.

3)                          Wisdom, understanding and knowledge:

 

The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens. By knowledge the depths were broken up. (Mishlei 3:19-20)

 

See, I have called by name Betzalel… And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship (Shemot 31:2-3)[7]

 

4)       "Seeing" at the completion of the work:

 

And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was good. (Bereishit 1:31)

 

And Moshe saw all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the Lord had commanded, even so they had done it. (Shemot 39:43)

 

5)       Completion of the work:

 

Then the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their host. And by the seventh day God ended the work which He had done. (Bereishit 2:1-2)

 

Thus was the work of the tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting finished: and the children of Israel did according to all that the Lord commanded Moshe, so they did… So Moshe finished the work. (Shemot 39:32; 40:33)

 

6)       A blessing at the completion of the work:

 

And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and performed. (Bereishit 2:3)

 

And Moshe saw all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the Lord had commanded, even so they had done it: and Moshe blessed them. (Shemot 39:43)

 

7)                          Ending with the sanctity of Shabbat (Bereishit 2:1-3; Shemot 31:12-17).

 

Chazal noted these parallels in several places. The Tanchuma draws a parallel between the order of creation and the order of the building of the Mishkan:

 

Rav Yaakov be-Rav Asi said: Why does it say: "Lord, I love the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells" (Tehilim 26:8)? Because it is equivalent to the creation of the world. How so?

 

On the first day it says: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Bereishit 1:1); and it says: "Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain" (Tehilim 104:2). And regarding the Mishkan, what does it say - "And you shall make curtains of goats' hair" (Shemot 26:7).

 

On the second day, "Let there be a firmament" (Bereishit 1:6), and it mentions division, as it is stated: "And let it divide water from water." And regarding the Mishkan, it says: "And the veil shall be for you as a division" (Shemot 26:33).

 

On the third day, it mentions water, as it says: "Let the waters be gathered" (Bereishit 1:9). And regarding the Mishkan, it says:  "You shall also make a laver of brass, and its pedestal also of brass… and you shall put water in it" (Shemot 30:18).

 

On the fourth day, He created the lights, as it says: "Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven" (Bereishit 1:14). And regarding the Mishkan, it says: "And you shall make a candlestick of pure gold" (Shemot 25:31).

 

On the fifth day, He created the birds, as it is stated: "Let the waters swarm abundantly with moving creatures that have life, and let birds fly above" (Bereishit 1:20). And corresponding to them in the Mikdash – offering sacrifices from sheep and birds.

 

On the sixth day, man was created, as it says: "So God created man in his own image" (Bereishit 1:27) – He formed him with dignity. And regarding the Mishkan it says "man," namely, the High Priest who was anointed to serve and attend before God.

 

On the seventh day: "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished" (Bereishit 2:1). And regarding the Mishkan, it says: "And all the work was finished."

 

Regarding the creation of the world, it says: "And God blessed" (Bereishit 1:28). And regarding the Mishkan, it says: "And Moshe blessed them" (Shemot 39:43). Regarding the creation of the world, it says: "And God ended" (Bereishit 2:2), and regarding the Mishkan, it says: "And it happened on the day that it was finished." Regarding the creation of the world, it says: "And He sanctified it" (Bereishit 2:3), and regarding the Mishkan, it says: "And Moshe anointed it and sanctified it."

 

Why is the Mishkan equivalent to the heavens and the earth? Just as the heavens and the earth testify about Israel, as it says: "I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you" (Devarim 30:19), so the Mishkan is testimony to Israel, as it is stated: "These are the accounts of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the testimony" (Shemot 38:21).

 

Therefore, it says: "Lord, I love the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells" (Tanchuma Pekudei 2)

 

The Midrash Ha-Gadol at the end of Parashat Pekudei explains how the Mishkan completes the creation:

 

"Then a cloud covered the Tent of Meeting" (Shemot 40:34) – this is what it means when it says: "The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell in it for ever" (Tehilim 37:29). Rav Yitzchak said: "The righteous shall inherit the land" – and where are the wicked? Hanging in the air? Rather what is "and dwell in it for ever" – they will cause the Shekhina to dwell in it.

 

The Shekhina was originally in the lower world. When the first man sinned, it retreated to the first firmament. The generation of Enosh arose and sinned, and it retreated from the first to the second firmament.  The generation of the flood arose and sinned, and it retreated from the second to the third firmament. The generation of the dispersion arose and sinned, and it retreated from the third to the fourth firmament. The Egyptians in the days of Avraham sinned, and it retreated from the fourth to the fifth firmament. The Sodomites sinned, and it retreated from the fifth to the sixth [firmament].The Egyptians in the days of Moshe sinned, and it retreated from the sixth to the seventh [firmament].

 

And corresponding to them, seven righteous men arose and brought [the Shekhina] down to earth. Avraham arose and acted virtuously, and brought it down from the seventh to the sixth [firmament]. Yitzchak arose and acted virtuously, and brought it down from the sixth to the fifth [firmament]. Yaakov arose and acted virtuously, and brought it down from the fifth to the fourth [firmament]. Levi arose and acted virtuously, and brought it down from the fourth to the third [firmament]. Kehat arose and acted virtuously, and brought it down from the third to the second [firmament]. Amram arose and acted virtuously, and brought it down from the second to the first [firmament]. Moshe arose and acted virtuously, and brought it down to the earth, as it is stated: "And the Glory of the Lord filled the Mishkan" (Shemot 40:34).

 

            The midrash in Shemot Rabba (35, 1) states that certain things were created solely for the sake of the Mishkan:

 

Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: The world was not worthy of using gold; why then was it created? For the Mishkan and for the Mikdash, as it is stated: "And the gold of that land is good" (Bereishit 2:12), and as it is stated: "That goodly mountain and the Levanon" (Devarim  3:25)… Rav Chanina said: The world was not worthy of using cedars. They were created solely for the Mishkan and for the Mikdash, as it is stated: "The trees of the Lord have their fill; the cedars of Levanon, which He has planted" (Tehilim 104:16), and Levanon refers to the Mikdash, as it is stated: "This goodly mountain and the Levanon."

 

The Maharal, in his Gur Arye on the commentary of Rashi regarding the offering brought by Netanel the son of Tzo'ar, brings an interesting allusion to this matter. The Torah states:

 

On the second day, Netanel, the son of Tzo'ar, prince of Yissakhar, did offer: he offered for his offering one silver dish, the weight of which was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meal offering, one spoon of gold of ten shekels, full of incense, one young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering, one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year. This was the offering of Netanel the son of Tzo'ar. (Bamidbar 7:18-23)

 

            On this Rashi comments (ad loc.):

 

One silver dish (ke'arat kesef) – The numerical value of its letters [= of the letters of these two words] is 930, corresponding to the years of the first man [= Adam].

 

The weight of which was a hundred and thirty shekels – In allusion to the fact that when he [Adam] first raised children to maintain the world in existence he was 130 years old, for it is said: "And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years and then begat a son" (Bereishit 5:3).

 

One silver bowl (mizrak echad kesef) – The numerical value of these words is 520, being an allusion to Noach who begot children at the age of 500 and also an allusion to the twenty years before his offspring were born when the decree regarding the flood was made, just as I have set forth in my comment upon the verse: "Yet his days shall be 120 years" (Bereishit 6:3)…

 

Seventy shekels – Corresponding to the seventy nations that descended from his [= Noach's] sons.

 

One spoon (kaf achat; the word kaf also denotes "hand") – in allusion to the Torah that was given from the hand of the Holy One, blessed be He.

 

Of gold of ten shekels – Corresponding to the Ten Commandments.

 

Full of incense – The total of the word ketoret according to the numerical value of its letters is 613, the number of the biblical commandments, except you must exchange the kof by dalet, according to the "method of permutations" known as a"t b"sh g"r d"k [by which the first letter of the alphabet may take the place of the last, the second that of the one before the last, etc.].

 

One young bullock – In allusion to Avraham, of whom it states: "And he took a young bullock" (Bereishit 18:7).

 

One ram – In allusion to Yitzchak, with reference to whom Scripture states: "And he took the ram, etc." (Bereishit 22:13).

 

One lamb – In allusion to Yaakov, of whom Scripture states: "And Yaakov separated the lambs" (Bereishit 30:40).

 

One kid of the goats – In order to make expiation for the selling of Yosef, with reference to whom it states: "And they slaughtered a kid of the goats" (Bereishit 37:31).

 

And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen – In allusion to Moshe and Aharon, who made peace between Israel and their Father in heaven.

 

Five rams, five he goats, five lambs – Three species in allusion to the three divisions of the nation: priests, Levites and ordinary Israelites, and also in allusion to the Torah, the Prophets and the Hagiographa. There are three times five, in allusion to the five books of the Torah, the five commandments written on one of the Tablets, and to the five written on the other. Thus far I found in the work of Rabbi Moshe ha-Darshan.

 

            The Maharal in his Gur Arye (ad loc.) comments as follows:

 

If you ask, what is the connection here to the years of Adam and Noach – it might be suggested that the building of the Mishkan is equivalent to the creation of the world, and everything that was in the creation of the world was in the building of the Mishkan. There were curtains in the Mishkan, as in the whole world: "Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain" (Tehilim 104:2). And just as the stars appeared, so the clasps appeared in the Mishkan… And therefore all the foundations of the world, namely, Adam, Noach, the seventy nations, the Torah, and the Ten Commandments, upon which the entire world stands, are alluded to in the Mishkan, so that the Mishkan be like the entire world.

 

V.                 EXPRESSIONS OF THE CREATION OF THE WORLD IN THE MIKDASH

 

Halakha offers two examples of daily mentioning of the creation of the world in the Temple. First, during the week of each ma'amad, its members would read the story of the creation, corresponding to the days of the week:

 

On the first day: "In the beginning" and "Let there be a firmament." On the second day: "Let there be a firmament" and "Let the waters be gathered together." On the third day: "Let the waters be gathered together" and "Let there be lights." On the fourth day: "Let there be lights" and "Let the waters swarm abundantly." On the fifth day: "Let the waters swarm abundantly" and "Let the earth bring forth. On the sixth day: "Let the earth bring forth" and "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished."

 

The second example is the song that the Levites would sing in the Temple each day, which would bring to mind the creation of the world:

 

It was taught: Rabbi Yehuda said in the name of Rabbi Akiva: On the first day [of the week] what did they say? "The earth and its entire contents belong to the Lord" (Tehilim 24:1), because He acquired and transferred possession and ruled over His world.

 

On the second day what did they say? "Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised" (ibid. 48:2), because He divided up His works and ruled as king over them.

 

On the third day they would say: "God stands in the Divine assembly" (ibid. 82:1), because He revealed the land with His wisdom and prepared the world for His assembly.

 

On the fourth day they would say: "God of retribution, Lord" (ibid. 94:1), because He created the sun and the moon and in the future will punish those who worshipped them.

 

On the fifth day they would say: "Sing aloud to God our strength" (ibid. 81:2), because He created the birds and the fish to praise His name.

 

On the sixth day they would say: "The Lord is King; He is robed in majesty" (ibid. 93:1), because he finished His work and ruled as king over them.

 

On the seventh day they would say: "A song for the Sabbath day" (ibid. 92:1), for the day which will be all Sabbath. (Rosh ha-Shana 31a) 

 

***

 

In this lecture, we saw various aspects of the connection between the creation of the world and the Mikdash: the Mikdash's coming before the creation of the world; the beginning of the creation at Mount Moriya, the place of the Holy of Holies; seeing the establishment of the Mishkan as a completion of creation; the many parallels between creation and the building of the Mishkan; and the practical expressions of this connection in the day-to-day operation of the Mikdash.

 

In the next lecture, I will examine the significance of the creation of man from the place of the altar.

 

(Translated by David Strauss) 



 



[1] This might also be the idea that finds expression in Chazal's assertion that the earthly Mikdash corresponds to a heavenly Mikdash. For example, "'Ha-Moriya' (Bereishit 22:2)… Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai says: To the fitting place that corresponds to the heavenly Mikdash" (Bereishit Rabba 55, 7; and see ibid. 69, 7).

[2] From the Tosefta, one might have understood that a disagreement exists between Rabbi Yose, who says that "from it [= the even ha-shetiya] the world was founded," and the anonymous first Tanna, who says that the stone was there only from the days of the early prophets. The gemara implies, however, that there is no contradiction between the two (it relates to the words of the mishna (5:2): "There was a stone there from the days of the early prophets, and it was called shetiya"). The matter requires further study.

[3] How can the sanctity of place stand above the boundaries of place? I will try to deal with this issue in one of the upcoming lectures.

[4] A separate lecture will be devoted to the sanctity of the place of the Mikdash.

[5] See also Be'er Ha-golah, sixth explanation (s.v. amar al ma she-amru z"l Yerushalayim be-emtza ha-olam).

[6] See also Pesikta Rabbati 5; Midrash Ha-gadol, Shemot 40:18; Tanchuma, Naso 19.

[7] This parallel was noted by the midrash, Shemot Rabba 48, 4.