Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Vayeitzei: Does Yaakov Promise a Temple At Bethel? part 2

As a followup to the previous post, "Where Did Yaakov Sleep?" In that post, I explained that one of the motivations of establishing the place Yaakov slept as Har HaMoriah (/the mekom hamikdash) as opposed to what is explicit in the pasuk, Luz/Bet-El, is that later on Jeroboam ben Nabat establishes a temple there, with a golden calf. We would not want to grant legitimacy to that temple, yet Yaakov promised that this would be a Bet Elokim.

Shadal, I noted, explicitly refuses to make the bamakom connection to Har haMoriah. If so, he bumps into the same troubling issue of Yeravam's temple. He should resolve it in some way. And he does, quite nicely as we will see in a moment. But then, so does Rashi.

The pesukim there state {Bereishit 28}:

יט וַיִּקְרָא אֶת-שֵׁם-הַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא, בֵּית-אֵל; וְאוּלָם לוּז שֵׁם-הָעִיר, לָרִאשֹׁנָה. 19 And he called the name of that place Beth-el, but the name of the city was Luz at the first.
כ וַיִּדַּר יַעֲקֹב, נֶדֶר לֵאמֹר: אִם-יִהְיֶה אֱלֹהִים עִמָּדִי, וּשְׁמָרַנִי בַּדֶּרֶךְ הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי הוֹלֵךְ, וְנָתַן-לִי לֶחֶם לֶאֱכֹל, וּבֶגֶד לִלְבֹּשׁ. 20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying: 'If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
כא וְשַׁבְתִּי בְשָׁלוֹם, אֶל-בֵּית אָבִי; וְהָיָה ה לִי, לֵאלֹהִים. 21 so that I come back to my father's house in peace, then shall the LORD be my God,
כב וְהָאֶבֶן הַזֹּאת, אֲשֶׁר-שַׂמְתִּי מַצֵּבָה--יִהְיֶה, בֵּית אֱלֹהִים; וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר תִּתֶּן-לִי, עַשֵּׂר אֲעַשְּׂרֶנּוּ לָךְ. 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house; and of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.'

Shadal explains that this is not a promise to build a temple. Indeed, he points out,
והאבן הזאת וגו' : נ"ל הכוונה מקום אשר בו עתה האבן הזאת יהיה אז לי כבית אלהים ואבנה בו מזבח ואעלה עליו עולות, וכן עשה ( למטה ל"ה ז' ), וזהו שכתוב "יהיה" בית אלהים , ולא אמר "תהיה" כנגד האבן. אעשרנו : בעולות ובשלמים הנאכלים בקדושה ובטהרה, וכמו שעשה ( ל"ה ב' ג' ).
Thus, he will treat the stone, the pillar he established, as a Bet Elokim, as we see he does in Bereishit 35.

Rashi says the same:
Then this stone Heb. וְהָאֶבֶן הַזֹּאת, lit., and this stone. This“vav” of וְהָאֶבֶן is to be explained as follows: If You will do these things for me, I too will do this: “And this stone, which I have placed as a monument, etc.” As the Targum paraphrases: “I will worship upon it before the Lord.” And so he did when he returned from Padan-aram, when He said to him, (35:1): “Arise, go up to Beth-el.” What is stated there? (ibid. verse 14): “And Jacob erected a monument, etc., and he poured a libation upon it.” [from Mishnath Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 14]
Earlier in the same perek, Rashi grapples with the Bet Elokim vs. Bet El as the location. On pasuk 17 he writes:
than the house of God Said Rabbi Eleazar in the name of Rabbi Jose ben Zimra: This ladder stood in Beer-sheba and the middle of its incline reached opposite the Temple, for Beer-sheba is situated in the south of Judah, and Jerusalem [is situated] in its north, on the boundary between Judah and Benjamin, and Beth-el was in the north of the territory of Benjamin, on the boundary between Benjamin and the sons of Joseph. Consequently, a ladder whose foot is in Beer-sheba and whose top is in Beth-el-the middle of its slant is opposite Jerusalem. This accords with what our Sages said, that the Holy One, blessed be He, said, “This righteous man has come to My lodging place [i.e., the Temple Mount]. Shall he leave without lodging?” And furthermore, they said: Jacob called Jerusalem Beth-el. But this place [which he called Beth-el] was Luz, and not Jerusalem. So, from where did they learn to say this? [i.e., that Luz was Jerusalem.] I believe that Mount Moriah was uprooted from its place, and it came here, [to Luz, i.e., at that time, Luz, Jerusalem and Beth-el were all in the same place], and this is the “springing of the earth” mentioned in Tractate Chullin, i.e., that the [site of the] Temple came towards him until Beth-el. This is the meaning of ויפגע במקום “And he met the place.” Now if you ask, “When Jacob passed by the Temple, why did He not detain him there?” [The answer is:] If he did not put his mind to pray in the place where his forefathers had prayed, should they detain him from heaven? He went as far as Haran, as it is stated in the chapter entitled, “Gid HaNasheh” (Hullin 91b), and the text, “and he went to Haran” (verse 10) supports this. When he arrived in Haran, he said, “Is is possible that I have passed the place where my forefathers prayed, and I did not pray there?” He decided to return, and he went back as far as Beth-El, and the earth “sprang toward him.” [This Beth-El is not the one near Ai, but the one near Jerusalem, and because it was the city of God, he called it Beth-El, the house of God, and that is Mount Moriah where Abraham prayed, and that is the field where Isaac prayed, and so did they say in Sotah (sic.) (Pes.88a) [concerning the verse] (Micah 4:2):“Come, let us go up to the Mount of the Lord, to the House of God of Jacob.” [It is] not [called] as did Abraham, who called it a mountain, and not as did Isaac, who called it a field, but as did Jacob, who called it the House of God. An exact edition of Rashi.

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