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

(Part XIII)

The Dedication of the Mishkan (Part II)

 

Rav Yitzchak Levi

 

 

I.          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.[1] 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.[2]

 

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 OFFERING 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.[3]

 

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.[4]

 

Furthermore, these are the only two calves brought as sacrifices in Scripture,[5] 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).[6]

 

            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.[7]

 

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.[8]

 

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.[9] 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):[10]

 

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.[11]

 

            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.[12]

 

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:[13]

 

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

[2] 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).

[3] 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.

[4] 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.).

[5] 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.

[6] 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.

[7] 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.

[8] 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. 

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

[10] 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.

[11] 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").

[12] 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.

[13] 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.