THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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ZEVACHIM 62-63 - Sponsored by a generous grant from an anonymous donor.
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1) THE MEASUREMENTS OF THE VESSELS OF THE BEIS HA'MIKDASH
QUESTION: The Beraisa states that if any of the measurements of the
Mizbe'ach (length, width, or height) is not exactly as described in the
verse, the Mizbe'ach may still be used and the Korbanos brought upon it are
not considered Pasul. However, this seems to contradict the Gemara in
Sanhedrin (16b). The Gemara there teaches that the words "like all that I
show you... and so shall you do" in the verse that describes the building of
the Mishkan (Shemos 25:9) teaches that the instructions described by the
Torah for the construction of all of the vessels in the Beis ha'Mikdash
should be followed for all generations. Rashi (to Shemos 25:9) elaborates on
this and explains that if a vessel becomes lost, or a new vessel is made for
the Beis ha'Mikdash (such as the Shulchan, Menorah, Mizbe'ach, etc.), then
the new vessel should be made in the form described by the Torah. This
implies that there is an obligation to make the vessels of the Beis
ha'Mikdash in the same form as those in the Mishkan. How do we reconcile
this with the Beraisa here which says that the wrong measurements do not
disqualify the Mizbe'ach?
(a) The RE'EM (ibid.) answers that Rashi does not mean that the vessels of
both the Mishkan and the Beis ha'Mikdash must be *exactly* the same size.
Rather, he explain that Rashi means that the length and width must be of a
similar *ratio*. Just as the Mizbe'ach of Moshe was a square of five by five
Amos, so, too, the Mizbe'ach of Shlomo was a square, of twenty by twenty
Even though the ratio of the height of Shlomo's Mizbe'ach did not match the
ratio of the height of Moshe's Mizbe'ach, the Re'em asserts that there must
have been an oral tradition passed down from Moshe Rabeinu teaching that the
verse meant that only the length and width should be of an equal ratio, and
not the height.
The Re'em supports his explanation with the words of TOSFOS in Shabbos (98b,
DH Dal). The Gemara there states that the width of the Mishkan was ten Amos.
Tosfos asks how the Gemara knows this, and he quotes the RI who answers that
we can derive the width of the Mishkan from the measurements of the Beis
ha'Mikdash. We know that the measurements of the Beis ha'Mikdash were sixty
Amos long and twenty Amos wide; its width was one third of its length. We
know that the length of the Mishkan was thirty Amos. It follows,
proportionately, that the width of the Mishkan was ten Amos, or a third of
its length. According to the Re'em, this is in fulfillment of the verse that
required the Beis ha'Mikdash to be similar in measurement to the Mishkan.
(b) The GUR ARYEH and the OR HA'CHAYIM answer that the verse (Shemos 25:9)
refers only to the form of the vessels and not to the structure of the Beis
ha'Mikdash itself. This is apparent from the much larger Beis ha'Mikdash
built by Shlomo. The Mizbe'ach built by Shlomo was connected to the ground,
thereby making it a structural item -- part of the Beis ha'Mikdash itself --
which did not need to adhere to the measurements of the movable Mizbe'ach of
(c) Alternatively, the Or ha'Chayim answers that our Gemara teaches that the
Torah says that certain things are necessary components of the Mizbe'ach,
such as the corners, the ramp, the Yesod, and the fact that it must be
square. The Gemara derives this from the fact that the Torah says
"ha'Mizbe'ach" with regard to all of these components, indicating that they
are essential components of the Mizbe'ach. The fact that the Torah does not
say "ha'Mizbe'ach" with regard to the measurements of the Mizbe'ach teaches
us that the Torah specifically does *not* make the exact measurements an
essential requirement. This is how we know that the Mizbe'ach in the Beis
ha'Mikdash does not have to be the same size as its counterpart in the
Mishkan, unlike the other vessels which do have to be like their
counterparts in the Mishkan. (Y. Montrose)
2) AGADAH: "BENEI KETURAH"
QUESTION: We find that the title "Benei Keturah" is used in reference to two
groups of people. Earlier (62a), Rav Yosef used this title to refer to the
people who erroneously dismissed his statement. Our Gemara (62b) relates an
additional incident regarding the nephews of Rebbi Tarfon. The nephews were
sitting with Rebbi Tarfon in silence (see SHITAH MEKUBETZES #1), and Rebbi
Tarfon quoted the verse, "va'Yosef Avraham va'Yikach Ishah u'Shemah
Keturah" -- "and Avraham took an additional wife, and her name was Keturah"
(Bereishis 25:1). However, instead of quoting the verse as it is written and
saying "Keturah," he said, "and her name was Yochani." His nephews corrected
him and said, "It says 'Keturah'!" He replied that they themselves are
"Benei Keturah." What is the significance of this remark?
(a) RASHI (DH Benei Keturah) explains that Rebbi Tarfon was telling his
nephews that they are like sons of Avraham, but not like the offspring of
Yitzchak and Yakov.
What, though, does Rashi mean? What exactly did they that made them only
like the other descendants of Avraham, and not like the descendants of
Yitzchak and Yakov? Furthermore, the MAHARSHA asks, according to Rashi, why
did Rebbi Tarfon not call them "Benei Esav?"
(b) The MAHARSHA writes that this Gemara can be understood according to the
opinion of the RAMBAM (Hilchos Melachim 10:8). The Rambam states that Benei
Keturah are still commanded to have a Bris Milah (unlike the opinion of
Rashi, who holds that they are not commanded to have a Bris Milah).
According to the Rambam, we can suggest that the reason why Rebbi Tarfon
referred to his nephews as "Benei Keturah" was in order to tell them that
merely having a Bris Milah does not make them unique, since Benei Keturah,
who are not Jewish, also must have a Bris Milah.
(c) Alternatively, the Maharsha explains that this could have been merely a
way of rebuking them as is found in other places in the Gemara (see Insights
to Bava Kama 65:2, and Zevachim 25:2). Why, though, did he choose to rebuke
them with the term "Benei Keturah" and not "Benei Esav?" Since Esav was a
Rasha, Rebbi Tarfon did not want to slight his brother by calling his
nephews the sons of Esav. On the other hand, we know that Keturah was
actually Hagar, who was not a Rasha. This is apparent from the Midrash
Tanchuma (ch. 8). The Midrash asks that if her real name was Hagar, then why
does the Torah not simply call her Hagar? The Midrash answers that we learn
from here that her actions were pleasing like Ketores. Rebbi Tarfon wanted
to rebuke them in an honorable way, and, therefore, he used the term "Benei
It is interesting to note that the Maharsha does not explain why Rav
Yosef -- who was not referring to his own nephews when he used the term
"Benei Keturah" -- did not use any other term, such as "Benei Esav."
Although we may suggest that such a term would not be appropriate for others
either, this does not seem to be the intention of the Maharsha.
The TZON KODASHIM explains that Rav Yosef wanted to convey a specific
message by calling them Benei Keturah. Rav Yosef was saying (as Abaye
interpreted his view) that the Ma'arachah (where the fire was located) of
the Mizbe'ach of Moshe Rabeinu, was one Amah. The students misunderstood him
to be referring to the entire Mizbe'ach, which the Torah says was much
larger than one Amah. Rav Yosef was alluding to them the lesson taught by
Bar Kapara in the Midrash (Bereishis Rabah 61:4). **Bar Kapara taught that
whenever Hashem gives a main thing and a side thing, the side thing is
greater than the main. One of his examples is that of Yishmael and the Benei
Keturah. We know that Yishmael was the main son of Avraham from Hagar. The
Benei Keturah were much more numerous than Yishmael. Rav Yosef was alluding
to these students their error. When he said his Halachah, he was referring
to the main part of the Mizbe'ach, not the other parts. In choosing to only
think of the other parts of the Mizbe'ach, they were choosing to look at the
addition which is the same role as Benei Keturah played opposite Yishmael.
(d) The PANIM ME'IROS explains that Rav Yosef's comment was directly related
to the subject matter under discussion. The Gemara earlier (59b) records a
dispute between Rebbi Yehudah and Rebbi Yosi bar'Rebbi Yehudah with regard
to the size of the Ma'arachah (see Rashi there, DH Elef and DH Af). Rav
Yosef ruled like Rebbi Yosi who said that the Ma'arachah was one Amah. The
students who argued with Rav Yosef held like Rebbi Yehudah who said that the
Ma'arachah itself was six square Amos, which is why they could not
understand how Rav Yosef could say that it was only one Amah. The Gemara
(60a) then explains that, according to Rebbi Yehudah, the entire floor of
the Azarah must have the same degree of Kedushah as the Mizbe'ach. Rav Yosef
responded to these students that they are "Benei Keturah," using the word
"Keturah" in the sense of "burning." He was declaring that if the students
cannot understand his statement, then it is because they hold like Rebbi
Yehudah who says that Korbanos may be burned in a large area, even on the
floor of the Azarah.
The Panim Me'iros explains that when Rebbi Tarfon called his nephews "Benei
Keturah," he used the word "Keturah" in the sense of being "tied"
("Kashur"). He wanted to rebuke them for not speaking about Torah matters.
To rebuke them, he called them people whose mouths are "tied up" (see
Bereishis Rabah 61:4, where the Midrash also translates "Keturah" in such a
(e) The KEREN ORAH bases his explanation on the Midrash ha'Ne'elam. The
Midrash states that possessing a logical cognitive process -- which is used
to think about and analyze Torah issues -- is a trait which Avraham
bequeathed only to Yitzchak. When the students misunderstood Rav Yosef, he
criticized them as being "Benei Keturah," meaning that they do not have
correct thoughts in learning and are like Benei Keturah who did not receive
this trait from Avraham. Similarly, when Rebbi Tarfon saw that his nephews
were sitting in silence, not talking about Torah matters nor listening to
someone talk about Torah matters, he was concerned that they were not using
the ability of logical thought and analysis that was passed down to them as
descendants of Yitzchak. Rebbi Tarfon alerted them to this by calling them
"Benei Keturah." (Y. Montrose)