Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why allude to the Churban specifically in Pekudei?

Parashat Pekudei begins (Shemot 38:21):

 These are the numbers of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the Testimony, which were counted at Moses' command; [this was] the work of the Levites under the direction of Ithamar, the son of Aaron the Kohen.כא. אֵלֶּה פְקוּדֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן מִשְׁכַּן הָעֵדֻת אֲשֶׁר פֻּקַּד עַל פִּי משֶׁה עֲבֹדַת הַלְוִיִּם בְּיַד אִיתָמָר בֶּן אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן:

and Rashi (1040-1105) comments:

the Mishkan, the Mishkan: Heb. הַמִּשְׁכָּן מִשְׁכַּן [The word מִשְׁכָּן is written] twice. This alludes to the Temple, which was taken as security (מַשְׁכּוֹן) by the two destructions, for Israel’s iniquities [The Temples were taken as a collateral for Israel’s sins. When Israel fully repents, the Third Temple will be built]. -[from Midrash Tanchuma 2, Exod. Rabbah 51:3]המשכן משכן: שני פעמים, רמז למקדש שנתמשכן בשני חורבנין על עונותיהן של ישראל:

The Midrash Tanchuma in question:
ולמה משכן משכן שני פעמים? 
אמר רבי שמואל: 
שבית המקדש עתיד להתמשכן שני פעמים: 
חרבן ראשון,
וחרבן שני.


ולפיכך אמר, משכן שני פעמים. 

The Maharal of Prague (1520-1609), in his supercommentary of Rashi, Gur Aryeh, questions why, of all places, this midrash should be positioned here. Is there something unique to the count in parashat Pekudei that should prompt the Torah to repeat the word Mishkan, in order to allude to the two destructions?

He writes as follows:

"And if you ask what relevance there is in writing this here, and why did it not write this in any parsha which preceded it. Yet this matter is wondrous in wisdom, and this is known from that which the tablets were shattered, because they were given with pomp, such that the evil eye ruled over them (Tanchuma Ki Tisa, 31). And because here is written אֵלֶּה פְקוּדֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן, that the Mishkan was enumerated here, and because of this the evil eye ruled over it, for anything counted, the evil eye rules over it (Rashi above 30:12 [J: at the start of Ki Tisa, regarding taking a census of Israel]). And since there was a count to each item in the Mishkan, the evil eye ruled over it. And so too the Bet Hamikdash, every item in the Mikdash had a count, as is written explicitly [J: first Bet Hamikdash in I Melachim 6-7, second in Ezra 8], and anyplace there is a count the evil eye rules over it."
This is an interesting idea, tying the midrash to the פקד of counting. Yet for some reason I don't find it persuasive. A concept like ayin hara being sholet and thus causing the destructions is something I would like to be more explicit in the midrash. And there is only two destructions mentioned, of the two Temples, not of the Mishkan, so the connection to the Mishkan being enumerated is somewhat more tenuous.

I also find the question interesting. (1) Why would the Torah introduce this textual irregularity here, or all places. (2) Why does the midrash introduce this idea specifically here?

I don't share the same assumptions as the Maharal when it comes to analyzing midrash, and so I would say that the textual irregularity of הַמִּשְׁכָּן מִשְׁכַּן is driven by some peshat concern, or is some natural human way of writing these particular grammatical constructions. And that once this irregularity was present, the midrashic author took advantage of it to introduce the idea.

However, I do think that there is something unique to Pekudei that is prompting this idea. That is,  הַמִּשְׁכָּן מִשְׁכַּן could have appeared anywhere. And the idea is, for the benefit of Klal Yisrael, the Mikdash serves as a mashkon, collateral. And it gets destroyed rather than Israel being destroyed. This seems like the lesser of two evils, in the grand scheme of things.

But I believe the drasha is also only the first three words of the parashaאֵלֶּה פְקוּדֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן

The word פקד means many things. Visit, count, remember.

And it also has a negative, destructive sense, as in (to select a random example) Hoshea 9:7:
ז  בָּאוּ יְמֵי הַפְּקֻדָּה, בָּאוּ יְמֵי הַשִּׁלֻּם--יֵדְעוּ, יִשְׂרָאֵל; אֱוִיל הַנָּבִיא, מְשֻׁגָּע אִישׁ הָרוּחַ--עַל רֹב עֲו‍ֹנְךָ, וְרַבָּה מַשְׂטֵמָה.7 The days of visitation are come, the days of recompense are come, Israel shall know it. The prophet is a fool, the man of the spirit is mad! For the multitude of thine iniquity, the enmity is great.

A day of visitation is a day of destruction. And so this functions as the prime for the midrash, setting the tone for this particular interpretation and revocalization of mishkan.


Joe in Australia said...

Perhaps the midrash is also responding to the fact that "pekudei" is plural, while "mishkan" is singular. A brief search indicates that the word "pekudei" is invariably applied to countable things, such as military units or families within a tribe; this appears to be the only case where it is applied to a singular object. From the perspective of peshat, this means "the counting of things associated with this object". From the perspective of midrash, however, we can ask why we need to "count" one object, and therefore read "pekudei" as "judgments" rather than "counts".

Yitzchak said...

When I looked at the Concordance a number of years ago, I came to the conclusion that "Pekudim" and "Pekudei" ALWAYS refer to people. If that's true here, the first paragraph of the Parshah tells us that the "Pekudim" of the Mishkan were the four individuals who are listed as being in charge of it (as in the phrase "Pekudei he-Chayyil") -- Moshe, Itamar, Betzalel, and Aholi'av. The second paragraph then goes on and gives an accounting of materials, but that's not the primary reference of the "Pekudim."

Joe in Australia said...

Yitzchak, I think you're combining two potential meanings by saying that they both can be applied to people. Let's say that the two meanings are "census" and "auditor": a census is taken of people, and an auditor is a person. That doesn't mean that the two meanings are related and should therefore be preferred.

In this case the pasuk is pretty clear that "pekudei" is a verb, because it goes on to say "which was "poukad" at the direction of Moshe, the labor of the Leviim ..." Also, your interpretation doesn't fit in with the fact that two of your "pekudim" aren't from the tribe of Levi. Even the remaining two "pekudim" don't make a pair: the audit was actually done by Itamar, albeit by Moshe's instruction. I think I recall a Midrash that asks why we're told that it was Moshe's instruction, and the answer given is that it reflects well on Moshe to show that he wanted to demonstrate that he had used public money honestly; how much more should we do so, etc.

Anonymous said...

What is the meaning and origin of the term "srad" as in בגדי שרד (Shmos 39:1)?

Joe in Australia said...

The Targum seems to equate srad with shimush, service: they're garments for working in. Other translators relate it the Aramaic word sarada which means "lattice": they're garments made from net-work.

My opinion, for what it's worth, is that the word "srad" would be superfluous if it means work garments: we don't need to be told that they made work garments when we're told that they were made for working in!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin