Shiur #26: The History of the Resting of the Shekhina(Part XIII) - The Dedication of the Mishkan (Part II)

  • Rav Yitzchak Levy
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Mikdash
Yeshivat Har Etzion


 

 

Shiur #26: The History of the Resting of the Shekhina

(Part XIII)

The Dedication of the Mishkan (Part II)

 

Rav Yitzchak Levi

 

 

            In the previous lecture, I discussed the various accounts of the dedication of the Mishkan, their significance, and their chronological order. In this lecture, I wish to focus on the seven days of consecration (milu'im), the eighth day, and the sacrifices that were brought on those days.

 

            After issuing the command to make the priestly garments, God instructs Moshe at length about the sanctification of the priests during the seven days of consecration (Shemot 29): "And you shall do to Aharon and to his sons according to all that I have commanded you; seven days shall you consecrate them" (v. 35). The fulfillment of this command is described in detail in the eighth chapter of the book of Vayikra; the ninth chapter of that book relates what transpired on the eighth day, when Aharon and his sons began to serve as priests and the Shekhina revealed itself before the people of Israel on the burnt-offering altar.

 

            In this lecture, I will discuss these eight days. I first wish to understand the general significance of the relationship between the first seven days and the eighth day, and then I will discuss the essence of these days in light of their sacrifices.

 

I.          SEVEN AND EIGHT

 

Attention should be paid to the relationship between seven and eight in general, and the relationship between the seven days of milu'im and the eighth day in particular.

 

First, it seems that the dedication of the Mishkan over the course of seven days is part of the correspondence between the building of the Mishkan and the creation of the world, which we discussed at length in a previous lecture (no. 10). As we saw at that time, the spiritual significance of this correspondence lies in understanding the Mishkan as a completion of the creation of the world; before the dedication of the Mishkan the world was deficient, but upon its dedication the work of creation was completed. The Baraita in tractate Megilla, however, expresses this idea with respect to the eighth day:

 

It was taught: That day there was happiness before the Holy One, blessed be He, as on the day on which heaven and earth were created. It is written here: "And it came to pass on the eighth day" (Vayikra 9:1). And it is written there: "And it was evening and it was morning, one day" (Bereishit 1:5). (Megilla 10b)

 

            Rabbenu Bachye, in his commentary to the beginning of Parashat Shemini, takes note of the centrality of the number eight in the Mishkan and in the Mikdash in general:

 

There is another reason for the dedication of the high priesthood on the eighth day          , namely, that we find that most matters relating to the Mishkan and the Mikdash revolve around the number eight. For there were eight priestly garments: the tzitz, the efod, the me'il, the ketonet, the mitznefet, the avnet, and the mikhnesei bad. The spices of the anointing oil and the incense were also eight: the anointing oil included four – myrrh, cinnamon, calamus, and cassia, and the incense included four – storax, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense. There were also eight poles: the two poles of the ark, the two of the table, the two of the golden altar, and the two of the burnt-offering altar. The sacrifices that may be brought are also only fit for sacrifice after eight days. This is what is written: "And from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted" (22:27). The songs that the Levites would sing in accompaniment of the sacrifice were also for eight instruments: neginot, machlat, alamot, nechilot, shoshanim, gitit and sheminit.

 

            In order to understand the relationship between seven and eight, we must examine, as stated above, this relationship in the Torah in general:

 

1)         Regarding several types of ritual impurity, the purification process is comprised of two stages: counting seven days of cleanness, and bringing sacrifices for atonement (which permit entry into the Mikdash and eating consecrated foods) on the eighth day. This is true in the case of a metzora (Vayikra 14:8-10) as well as a zav and a zava (ibid. 15:13-15, 28-30), and a similar phenomenon is found in the case of Nazirite who became ritually impure. A Nazarite who came into contact with a corpse must shave his head on the seventh day – the day of his purification – and on the eighth day he brings sacrifices for his atonement and begins once again to count the days of his Nazirite-ship (Bamidbar 6:9-12).

 

In this context the seven days constitute a preparation for the eighth day, on which the purification process is completed by going one step further, thus allowing for a return to sanctity. In a certain sense, then, the eighth day serves as a transitional point from purity to atonement and sanctity.[1]

 

2)         In the case of a woman who gives birth to a male child, the Torah states: "If a woman conceived seed and bore a male child she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her menstrual sickness shall she be unclean. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised" (Vayikra 12:2-3).

 

3)         The Torah only permits an animal to be sacrificed from the eighth day after its birth and on: "When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is brought forth, then it shall be seven days under its dam; and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire to the Lord" (Vayikra 22:27).

 

4)         Counting the seven weeks of the omer and celebrating the festival of Shavuot, the day of the offering of the new meal offering on the fiftieth day, corresponds in a certain way to the model of seven and eight, especially according to the Ramban's understanding:

 

And He commanded regarding Pesach seven days of sanctity… and from it He counted forty nine days, which are seven weeks… and He sanctified the eighth day as if it were the eighth day of the festival [of Pesach], and the days that were counted in the interim as if they were the intermediate days of the festival between the first and the eighth days of the festival… And therefore our Rabbis, of blessed memory, always referred to Shavuot as "Atzaret," for it is like the eighth day of the festival [of Sukkot] which Scripture calls by that name. (Ramban, commentary to Vayikra 23:36).

           

            The Ramban sees the period between Pesach and Shavuot as a single unit, the counting joining the beginning to the end, and the intervening days being like the intermediate days of a festival.[2] He draws a parallel between this system and a simpler system of seven and eight: the seven days of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret.

 

5)         A similar pattern may be seen in the case of the yovel year – the fiftieth year, which completes the seven sabbatical cycles that precede it.

 

What is evident in all of these examples is the transition from the number seven, which symbolizes natural perfection (as, for example, in the case of the days of the week) to the number eight, which is connected to a supernatural Divine reality. The renewed entry into the Divine camp with the offering of a sacrifice is an entry into the Divine, the supernatural.[3] In the case under discussion, the days of milu'im serve as human preparation for the grand Divine revelation on the eighth day.

 

In a similar fashion, the Maharal proposes (Gur Aryeh, Shemot 29:1) that the seven days of milu'im began the atonement process, whereas the eighth day completed it:

 

You might ask: Why were two [acts of] atonement necessary for the sin involving the golden calf? You can answer: This may be likened to a person who sinned against a king of flesh and blood. First he sends an advocate to appease the king with respect to his sin. But even after the king is appeased, the atonement is not complete as long as he does not appear before him face-to-face. When he comes before him, and admits his sin, and he pardons him, this completes the atonement. So, too, at first during all seven day of milu'im, Moshe – and not Aharon - would serve and bring a sacrifice (Rashi, Shemot 29:35) to atone for the incident involving the [golden] calf. But on the eighth day of milu'im, Aharon went in to serve and atone for the incident involving the [golden] calf (Rashi, Vayikra 9:2).

Even without this, there is no difficulty, because Israel were to rise to a more elevated level through the Mishkan, and they required atonement so that the sin of the [golden] calf not serve as an accusation against them and they not receive the [elevated] level. The seven days of milu'im were one level, for through the milu'im they became consecrated for service, and the eighth day which was the beginning of the service in the Mishkan was a second level, and each of them required atonement.

 

II.           THE DAYS OF MILU'IM (SHEMOT 29 AND VAYIKRA 8)

 

Over the course of the seven days of milu'im, Moshe served as priest. In this framework it fell upon him to perform a series of actions for the purpose of sanctifying the Mishkan, the altar, and Aharon and his sons. Let us systematically study the account of the days of milu'im as reported in Vayikra 8.

 

1) The command opens with sacrifices that are already familiar to us:

 

(1) And the Lord spoke to Moshe saying: (2) Take Aharon and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread; and gather all the congregation together to the door of the Tent of Meeting.

 

            The reference here is to the sacrifices mentioned in the command regarding the days of milu'im:

 

And this is the thing that you shall do to them to hallow them, to minister to Me in the priest's office: Take one young bullock, and two rams without blemish, and unleavened bread, and cakes unleavened mingled with oil, and wafers unleavened anointed with oil; of wheaten flour shall you make them. And you shall put them into one basket, and bring them in the basket, with the bullock and the two rams. (Shemot 29:1-3)

 

2) Moshe is commanded to gather the entire congregation, in order that they be present at the sanctification of the Mishkan and those who were to serve therein:

 

(3) And Moshe did as the Lord commanded him; and the assembly was gathered together at the door of the Tent of Meeting. (4) And Moshe said to the congregation, "This is the thing which the Lord commanded to be done."

 

3. The first step in the sanctification of the priests was dressing them in the priestly garments, as it is stated: "And they shall make holy garments for Aharon your brother, and his sons, that he may minister to Me in the priest's office" (Shemot 28:4). Aharon is dressed first:

 

(6) And Moshe brought Aharon and his sons, and washed them with water. (7) And he put upon him the coat, and girded him with the girdle, and clothed him with the robe, and put the efod upon him, and he girded him with the artistically wrought girdle of the efod, and with it he bound it to him. (8) And he put the breastplate upon him; also, he put in the breastplate the Urim and the Tumim. (9) And he put the mitre upon his head; and upon the mitre, upon its forepart, he put the golden plate, the holy crown, as the Lord commanded Moshe.

 

4) The next stage is the sanctification of the Mishkan and of Aharon by anointing them with the anointing oil:

 

(10) And Moshe took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and sanctified them. (11) And he sprinkled of it upon the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all its vessels, both the lever and its pedestal, to sanctify them. (12) And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aharon's head, and anointed him, to sanctify him.

 

            What is the significance of the emphasis on the burnt-offering altar, which was sprinkled with the anointing oil seven times – more than the rest of the Mishkan?

 

            I noted in the previous lecture that in this account of the Mishkan the altar plays a central role. This clearly follows from the description of the eighth day, when the Shekhina revealed itself upon the altar. This is the way that the Torah describes the role of the days of milu'im at the end of the section in Shemot:

 

And thus shall you do to Aharon and to his sons, according to all which I have commanded you; seven days shall you consecrate them. And you shall offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement, and you shall cleanse the altar, when you have made atonement for it, and you shall anoint it, to sanctify it. Seven days you shall make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy; whatever touches the altar shall be holy. (Shemot 29:35-37)

 

            We see, then, that the seven days of milu'im had a double role: consecrating the priests and making atonement for and sanctifying the altar. The emphasis placed on the burnt-offering altar is, then, in keeping with the tendency evident in the entire account.

 

            Another point that should be noted is that Aharon – but not his sons – was anointed together with the Mishkan and its vessels. The reason for this is that the sanctity of the High Priest is part of the sanctity of the Mishkan, as stated in the Torah when it defines the sanctity of the priests at the beginning of Parashat Emor:

 

And he that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and who is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not suffer the hair of his head to grow long, nor rend his clothes; neither shall he go in to any dead body… Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him; I am the Lord. (Vayikra 21:10-12)

 

5) afterwards, Aharon's sons are also dressed in the priestly garments, but for the time being they are not anointed:

 

(13) And Moshe brought Aharon's sons, and put coats upon them, and girded them with girdles, and put turbans upon them, as the Lord commanded Moshe.

 

6) Now comes the turn of the sacrifices of the days of milu'im – the first sacrifices offered on the burnt-offering altar in the Mishkan's courtyard! The first of the sacrifices is a bullock for a sin offering:

 

(14) And he brought the bullock for the sin offering; and Aharon and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock for the sin offering. (15) And he slaughtered it, and Moshe took the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about with his finger, and purified the altar, and poured the blood at the bottom of the altar, and sanctified it, to make atonement upon it. (16) And he took all the fat… and Moshe burned it on the altar. (17) But the bullock, and its hide, its flesh, and its dung, he burnt with fire outside the camp, as the Lord commanded Moshe.

 

            The burning of the bullock is an exceptional case, for according to the ordinary laws of sacrifices, the only sin offering that is burnt is "a sin offering of which any of its blood is brought into the Tent of Meeting to be sprinkled in the holy place" (Vayikra 6:23; and see ibid. 4:5-7, 12, 15-18, 21; 10:18; 16:27). But the sin offerings whose blood is placed on the outer altar are eaten. The Ramban explains as follows (Shemot 29:14):

 

We do not find an external sin offering that is burned other than this; these are the words of Rashi. It was a temporary ruling, as argued by our Rabbis.

And the reason for this is that everything is revealed before Him, and the bullock for a sin offering came to atone for the incident involving the [golden] calf, and it was the sacrifice of the priest that is anointed. And there (Vayikra 4:6) He commands to bring its blood inside, but He did not want that it be brought inside now, for there the reason is given: "before the veil of the sanctuary" (ibid.), and at this time it had not yet been sanctified, and the Shekhina did not rest upon it, so that it should be called "the veil of the sanctuary," and so an outer [sin offering] is like an inner one.[4]

 

            The bullock is essentially the sin offering of a priest who had been anointed, which comes to atone for the incident involving the golden calf and which ordinarily is brought inside. Here, however, it was done outside, for reasons applicable only in this case, but the law of burning was not canceled.[5]

 

7) The next sacrifice was the ram for a burnt offering:

 

(18) And he brought the ram for the burnt offering; and Aharon and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram. (19) And he killed it; and Moshe sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about. (20) And he cut the ram into pieces… (21) …and Moshe burnt the whole ram upon the altar; it was a burnt sacrifice for a sweet savor, an offering made by fire to the Lord, as the Lord commanded Moshe.

 

8) The third sacrifice was the ram of consecration:

 

(22) And he brought the other ram, the ram of consecration; and Aharon and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram. (23) And he slaughtered it; and Moshe took of its blood, and put it upon the tip of Aharon's right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot. (24) And he brought Aharon's sons, and Moshe put of the blood upon the tip of their right ear, and upon the thumbs of their right hands, and upon the great toes of their right feet; and Moshe sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about. (25) And he took the fat, and the fat tail, and all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the appendage of the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and the right shoulder.

(26) And out of the basket of unleavened bread that was before the Lord he took one unleavened cake, and a cake of oiled bread, and one wafer, and put them on the fat, and upon the right shoulder. (27) And he put all upon Aharon's hands, and upon his sons' hands, and waved them for a wave offering before the Lord. (28) And Moshe took the breast and waved it for a wave offering before the Lord; for of the ram of consecration it was Moshe's part, as the Lord commanded Moshe.

 

            The ritual involving the ram of consecration – the various kinds of bread that accompanied it, the waving of the breast and the shoulder, and the giving of the breast to Moshe (who served during the days of milu'im as the priest), the burning of only the fat and the eating of the meat and the bread by the "owners" of the sacrifice (Aharon and his sons) – all this teaches that, in essence, this ram is a peace offering (see Vayikra 7:11-16, 28-34).

 

It turns out, then, that the sacrifices brought during the days of milu'im served as a model for all the sacrifices to be offered on the altar: the bullock for a sin offering represents the holiest obligatory sacrifices (the sin offering and the guilt offering); the ram for a burnt offering represents the holiest voluntary sacrifices (the burnt offering and the meal offering); and the ram of consecration represents the sacrifices of lesser holiness (the peace offering).[6]

 

What is unique about the ram of consecration is the placing of the blood on the ears, thumbs, and great toes of the priests (the only other example of this phenomenon is in the purification process of a metzora [Vayikra 14:14, 25]).[7] Rav S.R. Hirsch (in his commentary to Shemot 29:20) explains that this ceremony gives expression to the priests' devotion to and self effacement before the Divine service:

 

Again, it is giving oneself up, giving up living just for oneself which is the first condition. But before this striving up to the heights of the altar is expressed by the "throwing of the blood" as with the burnt offering, some of the blood, which has been accepted by the Sanctuary, is to be placed on the ear, hand, and foot of the priests, who are to made conscious of the dignity and honor to be bestowed on them. The ear through which they hear and understand, the hand by which they achieve, the foot by which they go where they wish, i.e., their understanding, their action, and steps, by which, above all, a personality invested with the honor of being a "ram," leading the community, has to prove itself, must all be identified with the blood. Like the blood given up as profane and accepted as holy, died as profane and revived as holy, they, too, must be given up and accepted, must die and revive. The ram offering must not remain a mere external solemnization; the symbolic identification must become concrete and real in the actual rebirth of the actual ear, the actual hand, and the actual foot. The soul (represented by the blood), the personality, of the priest-to-be must actually begin its devotion and surrender by this giving-itself-up to the altar if this personality really has within itself the true dignity of its position, and it is consciously to enjoy the privileges connected with this dignity.

 

9) Only now do we come to the anointing oil – together with the blood on the altar – not only on Aharon, but also on his sons:

 

(30) And Moshe took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which was upon the altar, and sprinkled it upon Aharon, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons' garments with him; and sanctified Aharon, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons' garments with him.

 

            As opposed to the sanctity of the High Priest, who as stated above is sanctified along with the sanctity of the Mikdash, the sanctity of the rest of the priests stems from their service, as is stated at the beginning of Parashat Emor: "You shall sanctify him, therefore; for he offers the bread of your God" (Vayikra 21:8). He therefore sprinkles anointing oil on the sons of Aharon together with the blood that is on the altar (together with Aharon himself, for even the High Priest has a level of sanctity stemming from the sanctity of the service).

 

10) Aharon and his sons become sanctified as part of the Mishkan and the altar – as if they themselves would turn into holy vessels. Indeed, at the end of the section, Aharon and his sons are repeatedly warned to remain during the seven days of consecration "at the door to the Tent of Meeting," for the purpose of these days is to create and establish the connection between the priests and the Mishkan:

 

(31) And Moshe said to Aharon and to his sons, "Boil the flesh at the door of the Tent of Meeting: and there eat it with the bread that is in the basket of the bread of consecration, as I commanded, saying, 'Aharon and his sons shall eat it.' (32) And that which remains of the flesh and of the bread shall you burn with fire. (33) And you shall not go out of the door of the Tent of Meeting for seven days, until the days of your consecration be at an end; for seven days shall He consecrate you. (34) As he has done this day, so the Lord commanded to do, to make atonement for you. (35) And you shall abide at the door of the Tent of Meeting day and night for seven days, and keep the charge of the Lord, that you die not; for so I am commanded." (36) So Aharon and his sons did all the things which the Lord had commanded by the hand of Moshe.

 

III.       THE EVENTS OF THE EIGHTH DAY (VAYIKRA 9)

 

1)         THE COMMAND

 

After the days of milu'im, we come to the climax of the entire process – the eighth day. As opposed to the days of milu'im, there is no command in the book of Shemot regarding the eighth day, and we learn about it for the first time at the time of its execution (this point will be discussed below).

 

            Throughout the account, various expressions are used in relation to those present at the event:

 

(1) And it came to pass on the eighth day, that Moshe called Aharon and his sons, and the elders of Israel. (2) And he said to Aharon, "Take you a young calf for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the Lord. (3) And to the children of Israel you shall speak, saying, 'Take a kid of the goats for a sin offering, and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year and without blemish, for a burnt offering. (4) Also a bullock and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before the Lord, and a meal offering mingled with oil; for today the Lord will appear to you." (5) And they brought that which Moshe commanded before the Tent of Meeting; and all the congregation drew near and stood before the Lord… (22) And Aharon lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them… (23) And Moshe and Aharon went into the Tent of Meeting, and came out, and blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. (24) And there came a fire from before the Lord and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat; when all the people saw they shouted, and fell on their faces.

 

            Whereas during the seven days of milu'im Moshe was commanded to assemble the entire congregation, here there is no such command, and he only calls the elders of Israel. Nevertheless, "all of the congregation" draw near to God, and later we find that "all the people" are present.[8] It is possible that a command was not necessary, since the eighth day was a continuation of the days of milu'im. Or else it is possible that the words, "for today the Lord will appear to you," imply that all of the people are expected to be present for the event.

 

Indeed, whereas during the seven days of milu'im the people were mere spectators, on the eighth day they become active participants. Aharon is commanded to sacrifice a calf for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, and the people of Israel are commanded to bring a goat for a sin offering, a calf and a lamb for burnt offerings, a bullock and a ram for peace offerings, and a meal offering.[9]

 

I wish to discuss the significance of the sacrifices brought on the eighth day in the wake of the Ramban (in his commentary to Vayikra 9:3), who discusses these sacrifices in light of the question raised earlier: Why is there no command regarding the eighth day in the book of Shemot, similar to the command regarding the seven days of milu'im? The Ramban suggests two answers:

 

These sacrifices were not mentioned in the section "And this is the thing that you shall do to them to hallow them, to minister to Me in the priest's office" (Shemot 29:1) (1) because there He commanded only about the consecration, and with the seven days and their sacrifices their days of consecration were completed; on the eighth day, they themselves offered the sacrifices. These sacrifices were like a dedication for them, similar to the chavitim meal offering for generations on the day that he is anointed (Vayikra 6:13-14).

(2) It is possible that He added these sacrifices now in order to atone for the incident involving the [golden] calf. For when He commanded, "And this is the thing that you shall do to them to hallow them," the [golden] calf had not yet been fashioned, as I have explained (ibid. 8:2); therefore He did not mention them there. And not like the words of Rashi, who said there (Shemot 29:1) that the bullock is to atone for the incident involving the [golden] calf. Rather, these bullocks were to cleanse the altar and Aharon and his sons and to sanctify them, and this calf on the eighth day was to atone for the incident involving the [golden] calf.

Now, Aharon's sacrifice was like his sacrifice on Yom Kippur, and the people's sin offering was like their sin-offering on Yom Kippur, one kid goat for a sin offering. And thus it says in the Tosefta of Parashat Milu'im in Torat Kohanim (Shemini Mekhilta De-Milu'im 3) that this calf was to atone for the incident involving the [golden] calf. And they expounded: What did Israel see to bring more than Aharon? Rather he said to them: You were guilty at first, and you were guilty at the end. You were guilty at first, as it is stated: "And they slaughtered a kid goat" (Bereishit 37:31). And you were guilty at the end, as it is stated: "They have made them a molten calf" (Shemot 32:8). Let the kid come and atone for the incident involving the kid; let the calf come and atone for the incident involving the calf.

It seems that since the reason for Aharon's sin offering was like the reason on Yom Kippur, he burned it in the same way that [the sin offering] of Yom Kippur is burned, even though this was an outer sin offering, for Moshe did not explicitly say that he should do this. Or perhaps he was commanded about this, and Scripture did not want to expand, for he would only do what Moshe had said, and Moshe would only say what God had commanded.

 

            I wish to begin with the Ramban's second answer and then return to his first answer.

 

2)         A CALF FOR A SIN OFFEREING AND A CALF FOR A BURNT OFFERING

 

The Ramban's second answer is that the sacrifices of the eighth day came to atone for the incident involving the golden calf; since, in his view, the command regarding the Mishkan preceded the sin of the golden calf, it turns out that these sacrifices were indeed a new addition. They were therefore not mentioned in Parashat Tetzaveh, which came before the sin.[10]

 

The sacrifices brought on the eighth day do, in fact, clearly allude to the sin of the golden calf. As noted by the Ramban, both Aharon's sacrifice and the sacrifice of the people include a calf; in Aharon's sacrifice – a calf for a sin offering, and in the people's sacrifice – a calf for a burnt offering. Both of these calves are puzzling. The High Priest brings his sin offering from cattle – but usually this implies a bullock (Vayikra 4:3), and not a calf; this is the only place in Scripture where a calf is offered as a sin offering. The sacrifice of the people is also exceptional. While it is true that the Torah does not limit the burnt offering brought from cattle to a bullock (see ibid. 1:3, 5), nowhere else does the Torah command to bring a calf for a burnt offering. In fact, this is the only place in Scripture where a calf is offered as a burnt offering.[11]

 

Furthermore, these are the only two calves brought as sacrifices in Scripture,[12] and the connection to the sin of the golden calf is evident, as Chazal have expounded:

 

"And he said to Aharon, 'Take you a young calf for a sin offering.'" Why did he not say a bullock, but rather a calf? Because through a calf, the priesthood became shaken in your hand, and through a calf it will become firmly established in your hand.

And furthermore, so that Israel should not say that they have sins from the incident of the [golden] calf. Therefore, the Holy One, blessed be He, said to him: They too shall offer a calf – "And to the children of Israel you shall speak, saying, 'Take a kid of the goats for a sin offering; and a calf,'" so that all should know that they had achieved atonement for the incident involving the [golden] calf. (Tanchuma Shemini 4)

 

            In the passage from the Torat Kohanim cited by the Ramban, we read:

 

"And he said to Aharon, 'Take you a young calf for a sin offering.'" This teaches that Moshe said to Aharon: Aharon, my brother, even though God was appeased to pardon your sins, you must put [something] into Satan's mouth. Send a gift before you before you enter the sanctuary, lest he hate you when you go into the sanctuary.

Lest you say: Only I require atonement? Surely also Israel require atonement, as it is stated: "And to the children of Israel you shall speak, saying, 'Take a kid of the goats for a sin offering.'" What did Israel see to bring more than Aharon? Rather he said to them: You were guilty at first, and you were guilty at the end. You were guilty at first, as it is stated: "And they slaughtered a kid of the goats" (Bereishit 37:31). And you were guilty at the end, as it is stated: "They have made them a molten calf" (Shemot 32:8). Let the kid goat come and atone for the incident involving the kid; let the calf come and atone for the incident involving the calf. (Sifra Shemini, parasha 1, s.v. va-yehi ba-yom)

 

            Why was Aharon's calf a sin offering, whereas the people's calf was a burnt offering? Rabbenu Bachye explains (in his commentary to Vayikra 9:3):

 

It seems to me that He commanded Aharon that his calf should be a sin offering and He commanded that Israel's [calf] be a burnt offering, so that the purity of Aharon's heart be clarified from here. For even though he fashioned the calf with his own hands, he did not sin in his thoughts whatsoever; rather his intentions were for the sake of heaven… for he sinned in action, and not in thought. And for this reason he brought a sin offering, for a sin offering comes for a sin in action.

And that of Israel He commanded that it be a burnt offering, for a burnt offering comes for the thoughts of the heart. And it is known that Israel had evil thoughts, and that they sinned in thought.

 

            That is to say, Aharon sinned exclusively in action, but not in thought, and therefore he brought a sin offering, which atones for a sin in action. But the sacrifice of the people of Israel, who sinned also in thought, was a burnt offering, which atones for the thoughts of the heart (Yerushalmi, Yoma 8:7).[13]

 

            Regarding the meal offering (cited by Rav Kasher, Torah Sheleima, Parashat Shemini, Vayikra 9:3, note 17), he writes that this offering is similar to the bullock brought as a burnt offering together with the sin offering for the inadvertent violation of the prohibition of idolatry of the entire congregation (see Bamidbar 15:2-26).

 

            To summarize, on the eighth day – the day on which the Mishkan first began its normal operations – Aharon and the people were commanded to offer a calf for a sin offering and a calf for a burnt offering to atone for the sin of the golden calf.[14]

 

3)         A KID GOAT FOR A SIN OFFERING

 

As opposed to the calves, a kid goat is the regular sin offering of the people (see the section dealing with the musaf offerings, Bamidbar 28-29). I have already cited the words of the Torat Kohanim, that this sacrifice as well achieves atonement for a certain sin:

 

You were guilty at first, as it is stated: "And they slaughtered a kid goat" (Bereishit 37:31). And you were guilty at the end, as it is stated: "They have made them a molten calf" (Shemot 32:8). Let the kid come and atone for the incident involving the kid; let the calf come and atone for the incident involving the calf.

 

            That is to say, the calf for the burnt offering came to atone for the incident involving the golden calf, and the kid goat for the sale of Yosef.

 

            We are clearly dealing here with a twofold atonement: for that which is between man and God and for that which is between man and his fellow (on the national level).

 

4)         A BULLOCK AND A RAM FOR PEACE OFFERINGS

 

As a rule, peace offerings are voluntary offerings brought by individuals (see Vayikra 7:11-12, 16, 29-34). The peace offerings that were brought on the eighth day join the only two other mentions of communal peace offerings in the Torah. The first communal peace offerings were brought in a one-time manner at Mount Sinai:

 

And he sent the young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. (Shemot 24:5)

 

            The other instance of communal peace offerings mentioned in the Torah relates to the only communal peace offerings that are offered in the Mikdash for all generations – together with the two loaves brought on the festival of Shavuot:

 

To the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall you number fifty days, and you shall offer a new meal offering to the Lord. You shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth measures; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the first-fruits of the Lord… Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings. And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the first-fruits for a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs. (Vayikra 23:16-20)

 

            The connection between the three events is clear: I have already expanded several times (see especially lectures 9 and 20) on the Mishkan's role as a perpetuation of the revelation at Mount Sinai, and Shavuot is the festival commemorating the giving of the Torah. I have already noted the correspondence between the eighth day and the festival of Shavuot, the fiftieth day, which follows the counting of seven weeks.[15]

 

5)         THE OVERALL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SACRIFICES BROUGHT ON THE EIGHTH DAY

 

Thus far, I have surveyed most of the sacrifices that were offered on the eighth day, to the exclusion of the "ram for a burnt offering" brought by Aharon and the "lamb… for a burnt offering… and a meal offering mingled with oil" brought by the people. It seems that the meaning of these sacrifices can be understood in light of the meaning of the day's sacrifices as a whole, two dimensions of which I will now discuss.

 

a)                  A model for the array of sacrifices as a whole. As was already noted (and will be explained further below), the eighth day marks the beginning of the regular service in the Mishkan; the days of milu'im were meant to dedicate the altar and the priests, and on the eighth day the priests themselves began to serve at the altar.

 

We saw above (II, 8) that the sacrifices with which the altar was consecrated during the days of milu'im served as a model for all of the sacrifices that would be offered on it: the holiest sacrifices – obligatory and voluntary - and sacrifices of lesser sanctity. The same may be true regarding the sacrifices brought by the people on the eighth day. The sacrifices brought by the people include (in order) a sin offering, a burnt offering, peace offerings, and a meal offering - in other words, all the types of sacrifices.[16] The meal offering mingled with oil completes this series of sacrifices; it is possible that the lamb for a burnt offering was also necessary for this purpose, in light of the exceptional nature of the calf for a burnt offering.

 

b)                  The correspondence to Yom Kippur. The ram for a burnt offering brought by Aharon fits in well with the correspondence between the sacrifices brought on the eighth day and the sacrifices brought on Yom Kippur (noted already by the Ramban, as we saw above):[17]

 

The Eighth Day (Vayikra 9)

Yom Kippur (Vayikra 16)

And he said to Aharon, Take you a young calf for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the Lord…

(3) Thus shall Aharon come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering…

(3) And to the children of Israel you shall speak, saying, "Take a kid of the goats for a sin offering; and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, for a burnt offering."

(5) And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering.

 

            In both cases, we find the same structure – a sacrifice brought by Aharon and a sacrifice brought by the people - and in both cases the sacrifices are similar or identical.[18]

 

            The significance of this correspondence primarily relates to our understanding of Yom Kippur as a sort of annual rededication of the Mishkan. Just as the service during the seven days of milu'im came to atone for the altar, to cleanse and to sanctify it in order to allow for its dedication, the Yom Kippur service comes to atone for the holy, the Tent of Meeting, and the altar (Vayikra 16:20) for the impurities and sins of Israel. And just as on the eighth day – following the sanctification and cleansing of the altar – the beginning of the service  becomes possible and the Shekhina rests upon it altar, the Yom Kippur service makes possible the resting of the Shekhina in the Tent of Meeting and a renewal of the service therein.[19]

 

6)         THE RAMBAN'S FIRST ANSWER

 

Before we conclude, let us return to the first answer offered by the Ramban to the question of why there is no command regarding the eighth day in the book of Shemot; this answer may shed new light on the very essence of the eighth day:

 

Because there He commanded only about the consecration, and with the seven days and their sacrifices their days of consecration were completed, for now on the eighth day they themselves offered the sacrifices. These sacrifices were like a dedication for them, similar to the chavitim meal offering for generations on the day that when he is anointed (Vayikra 6:13-14).

 

            I will try to explain the Ramban's somewhat unclear answer and its significance following the understanding of Rav Yonatan Grossman:[20]

 

According to the Ramban's first answer, the command in the book of Shemot focuses on preparing the priests for their service - how to sanctify them and prepare them to minister in the Mishkan. On the eighth day, the preparation process had already come to an end, and the priests are already serving in the Mishkan as regular priests. This day was not part of preparing the priests for their function, and therefore it was not mentioned in the book of Shemot

I wish to adopt the Ramban's first understanding, and try to explain why it was so important that the command regarding the setting up of the Mishkan include only the preparation of the priests for their service (the seven days of milu'im) and not the command regarding the process of the resting of the Shekhina in the sanctuary (the eighth day). Put differently, I will try to explain why God could command Moshe in the book of Shemot only about preparing the priests, but not about the revelation of the Shekhina

 

            Here Rav Grossman brings the examples that were brought at the beginning of this lecture regarding the model of six and seven. He then continues:

 

From all these examples, it seems that there is a fixed model comprised of seven days that serve as preparation for the eighth day that comes in their wake. It would seem that the eighth day does not have independent status, but is merely "the day after" the first seven days. In essence, however, the eighth day is the objective of the seven days that preceded it. The seven days are necessary preparation for the final stage, the eighth day.

The many examples that were brought teach us about another characteristic of this model: the objective of the preparation over the course of the seven days is always renewed entry into the Mishkan and renewed standing before God…

It seems, then, that the seven days of milu'im are also the foundation and preparation for the eighth day, during which the Shekhina entered the Mishkan for the first time and sanctified it with a revelation before the entire people. Over the course of the seven days, the priests became sanctified and prepared for their service, and parallel to them, the altar was also sanctified and prepared during these seven days; only at the end of this extended process of preparation and training could the Shekhina enter and rest in the Mishkan.

In light of this understanding, we can go back and answer the question that was posed at the beginning of our discussion. It seems that the fact that the eighth day is not mentioned in the command in the book of Shemot comes to express the idea that there is no guarantee that this day will indeed arrive. The people of Israel could do everything that they were commanded to do – build the Mishkan, sanctify its vessels, and prepare the priests serving therein, but God's revelation and His entry into the Mishkan will still depend on the moment that God decides to do so. For essential reasons, it is impossible to command about the eighth day before the Mishkan is built and before the seven days of milu'im. A command of this sort would have turned the resting of the Shekhina in the Mishkan into an almost necessary result of a magical process that transpired during the seven days of milu'im. And this is not true. The resting of the Shekhina depends on the free will of God, and only if He finds His nation worthy will He rest His Shekhina among them.

While it is true that the objective of the building of the Mishkan and the seven days of milu'im was the eighth day and the revelation of God in the Mishkan, a command cannot be given about the day. This day remains hidden until God desires to enter into and reside in the Mishkan built for Him by human beings. According to my understanding, an essential aspect of God's revelation is the surprise that it involves. A person can prepare himself for the revelation, aspire to it and prepare the groundwork for its realization – but still the revelation is not necessarily forthcoming. When it comes, it breaks out suddenly and without prior warning, and man – with all his preparation – can do nothing but be amazed and offer gratitude: "When all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces" (Vayikra 9:24)

 

***

 

            In this lecture I noted the significance of the days of milu'im and the eighth day – primarily in light of the sacrifices brought on each of these days. In the next lecture, I will discuss the sacrifices of the tribal princes at the time of the dedication of the altar.

 

(Translated by David Strauss)

 



[1] The relationship between purity and sanctity is an issue that requires an expanded discussion. It finds expression in, among other things, the relationship between the Levite camp and the camp of the Shekhina and in the relationship between the Levites' entry into service, which was in ritual purity and with shaving, and the priests' entry into their service, which involved anointing with the anointing oil.

[2] I cannot discuss here the broad connection between Pesach and Shavuot, which includes Shavuot's date being dependent upon Pesach and the transition from matza to chametz, from barley flour to wheat flour, from the omer that permits the new grain in the rest of the country to the shetei ha-lechem that permits the new grain in the Mikdash, and from the exodus from the bondage in Egypt to the receiving of the Torah, through which the nation received its unique characteristics.

[3] For further discussion, see Rav Menachem Liebtag's lecture on Parashot Tazri'a-Metzora:

http://www.etzion.org.il/vbm/archive/6-parsha/28tazriah.rtf.

[4] What Ramban says here contradicts his commentary at the beginning of Shemini (Vayikra 9:3): "And not like what Rashi said there (Shemot 29:1) that the bullock came to atone for the incident involving the [golden] calf. Rather, those bullocks were to cleanse the altar and Aharon and his sons and to sanctify them, and this calf on the eighth day came to atone for the incident involving the [golden] calf." Rav Chavel writes (in his notes to the Ramban's commentary, ad loc.): "It seems clear that everything that the Ramban writes here is only according to the position of Rashi, as is evident from his wording at the beginning of the passage… According to Rashi's position the Ramban explains that this bullock for a sin offering came to atone for the incident involving the [golden] calf. His own position, however, is what the Ramban writes below in his commentary to the beginning of Shemini, that the bullock of the milu'im did not come to atone for the incident of the [golden] calf, but rather to cleanse the altar and to sanctify Aharon and his sons."

[5] Amos Chakham proposed (Da'at Mikra, Shemot, vol. II, p. 283) that since this was the first sin offering brought in the Mishkan, it was fitting that it be given entirely to God. There is, however, a difficulty with this suggestion, for that which is given to God is burned on the altar (e.g., a burnt offering, all of which is burned on the altar), and not outside the camp.

[6] On this, see Rav Menachem Liebtag's lecture on Parashat Shemini (5761):

http://www.etzion.org.il/vbm/archive/6-parsha/27shminih.rtf

[7] Menachem Bula (Da'at Mikra, Vayikra 8:23, p. 137) distinguishes between the significance of this process in the case of a metzora – the transition from impurity to purity – and its significance in the case of the priests – entry from the profane to the holy. There are, however, those who understand that the significance of the process is identical in the two cases, and that the Torah alludes to the metzora that purity does not suffice, but that it is necessary to rise in sanctity, in the sense of "Turn away from evil and do good."

[8] Further study is required regarding the differences between the various expressions: "the children of Israel," "all of the congregation," and "all the people."

[9] It is interesting that according to the plain sense of Scripture, Aharon's sacrifices were meant to atone not only for himself, but also for all the people, unrelated to the sacrifice brought by the people: "And Moshe said to Aharon, 'Go to the altar, and offer your sin offering, and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself, and for the people: and offer the offering of the people, and make atonement for them, as the Lord commanded'" (v. 7).

[10] This does not mean that had Israel not sinned with the golden calf, there would have been nothing special about the eighth day. It stands to reason that the day would have been marked in some special way, but not by the sacrifices commanded here.

[11] We find one instance where a prophet relates to the possibility of offering a calf as a burnt offering: "With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?" (Mikha 6:6, and Radak, ad loc.).

[12] This supports not only the Ramban's position that the calf brought on the eighth day came to atone for the incident of the golden calf, but also his position that the bullock of the days of milu'im is not connected to the golden calf, and that a distinction must be made between the two sacrifices.

[13] See also the Maharal's Gur Aryeh to Vayikra 9:2, where he explains at length the relationship between thought and action in Aharon's part in the sin of the golden calf.

[14] In this we follow the path of the Ramban, whose understanding, in our opinion, follows the plain sense of Scripture. It should be noted, however, that the Ibn Ezra (in his long commentary to Shemot 31:18) vigorously rejects this approach.

[15] The peace offerings brought at these times is a broad topic. In this context, I will merely allude to the main ideas.

A peace offering represents perfect Divine service performed out of closeness to God and out of love, and not just out of fear: "Whosoever brings a peace offering brings peace into the world. Another explanation: Peace offering – that all are at peace with it: the blood and the fats to the altar, the breast and the shoulder to the priests, the hide and the flesh to the owner" (Sifra dibura di-nedava, parasha 13, chap. 16).

Therefore, the people of Israel offered peace offerings at Mount Sinai, where their redemption and service reached perfection when they received the Torah. Attention should be paid to the fact that the sacrifice of peace offerings is not mentioned in the description of the event in Parashat Yitro (Shemot 19-20), where expression is given also to the dimensions of love and closeness evident in that event.

This is also the idea of the peace offering brought on Shavuot, the holiday of the giving of the Torah, when peace offerings accompany the shetei ha-lechem made of chametz, as argued by the Ramban (in his commentary to Vayikra 23:17). See also note 2 above.

This is also the idea of the peace offerings at the dedication of the Mishkan, which is a continuation of the revelation at Mount Sinai. Here, too, they come as part of man's involvement in the process, namely, in the sacrifice of the people on the eighth day and in the sacrifices of the princes – the representatives of the people (Bamidbar 7) – which they offered on their own initiative. 

[16] Guilt offerings are brought in very specific situations, and they are therefore not relevant in this context.

[17] Many have already noted this parallelism. For further discussion see, for example: Rav Y. Bin Nun, "Ha-Yom Ha-Shemini Ve-Yom Ha-Kippurim," Megadim 8; Y. Kenohal and Sh. Na'eh, "Milu'im Ve-Kippurim," Tarbitz 62 (5753), pp. 17-44.

[18] Most of the differences can be understood in light of what we saw above: Aharon's sin offering is a calf, and a calf is added to the people's burnt offering, to atone for the sin of the golden calf. The additional sacrifices of the people that are brought on the eighth day – the peace offering and the meal offering – relate to the essence of the eighth day, as was explained above, but not to the Yom Kippur service. As for the difference between the two kid goats of Yom Kippur and the single kid goat on the eighth day – this difference is only imaginary, for one of the kid goats of Yom Kippur is sent to Azazel, and it has an essentially different character.

It should be noted that the Sifra cited above seems to understand the purpose of the sacrifices brought on the eighth day ("Send a gift before you before you enter the sanctuary, lest he hate you when you go into the sanctuary") in accordance with the purpose of the Yom Kippur sacrifices explicitly stated in Scripture – to make Aharon's entry into the Holy possible ("Thus shall Aharon come into the holy place").

[19] If we take the correspondence one step further, we might argue that the Yom Kippur service expresses the need for atonement for the sin of the golden calf (and perhaps also for the sin of the sale of Yosef) in every generation (see Rashi on Shemot 32:34).

In the article cited in note 17, Rav Y. Bin Nun notes the contrasting parallelism between the two days: On Yom Kippur the High Priest enters into the Holy of Holies, and God appears to him there, whereas on the eighth day the process is reversed – the glory of God goes out, as it were, from the Mikdash to the outer altar and appears over it before the entire people. In light of this, he explains the sin of Nadav and Avihu, and Yom Kippur as a repair of that sin.

[20] In his lecture on Parashat Shemini (5764), "Ha-Yom ha-Shemini – Ha-Hafta'a She-Be-Gilui":

 http://www.etzion.org.il/vbm/archive/9-parsha/34shmini.rtf. Owing to the importance of what he says for understanding the significance of the eighth day, I will cite from his lecture at length.