Divrei Torah

The Divrei Torah in this section have been translated by Rav Reuven Ungar, Director of Alumni Affairs

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Remembering the Temple via the Lulav- Part I

By: Rav Yoel Amital
ram in Yeshivat Sha'alvim

The Mishnah in Masechet Sukka (41a) states that originally the lulav was grasped in the Beit Mikdash 7 days; elsewhere it was grasped one day (the 15th day of Tishrei). Upon the destruction of the Beit Mikdash, Rabi Yochanan ben Zakai instituted grasping the lulav in all places 7 days. This is considered zecher lamikdash- to remember what transpired in the Beit Mikdash. The mishnah records an additional institution of Rabi Yochanan ben Zakai. One is prohibited from consuming new grain products (chadash) on the 16th day of Nissan (yom hanef).

The gemara in Masechet Rosh HaShanah (31) advances a verse from the book of Yermiyahu (Chapter 30) as the source for instituting a zecher lamikdash. "She is Zion, no one seeks (doresh) her"- this indicates that one should seek her. The gemara marshals the following logic for the prohibition of eating chadash on yom hanef. On a Biblical level, when the Beit HaMikdash exists, one must wait for the bringing of the Omer (on the 16th) before consuming chadash. In times of destruction, one may eat the chadash with sunrise on the 16th of Nissan. Perhaps when the Beit HaMikdash is rebuilt, the masses will continue to consume the chadash before the bringing of the Omer. Why does the Mishnah combine these two (apparently) separate institutions (takanot)?

The concept of zecher lamikdash must be clarified. Does it generate specific rabbinic halachot (that assume autonomy)? Or perhaps, do the performance of these halachot qualify as a fulfillment of zecher lamikdash? Is grasping the lulav (outside of the Beit Mikdash, after the first day of Sukkot) a rabbinic sub-section of the Biblical law of grasping a lulav? Or, rather, is it located in the distinct halachic orbit of zecher lamikdash?

(In a similar vein, does perpetrating a transgression with half of the amount that generates culpability (chatzi shiur) fall under the general transgression of the full amount; or does it constitute an autonomous prohibition (as the Ramban opines). Likewise, is the mitzvah of training youth to perform mitzvoth (chinuch) an autonomous halacha; or does it constitute a semi-fulfillment of the specific mitzvah that the youth is performing? See Iggerot Moshe, Yoreh Deah, Volume I, Responsa 264.)

The Tosafot (Masechet Sukka 29b) confront the following difficulty: A lulav must retain the status of aesthetic beauty (hadar) all 7 days. Yet, subsequent to the first day, it may be utilized even though it is not complete or if it is borrowed (disqualifying factors on the Biblically mandated first day). Tosafot explain that the first day is of Biblical origin, whereas the following days are mandated by rabbinic authority; a zecher lamikdash. It did not suffice to mention the distinction between halachot of Biblical or rabbinic origin. The zecher lamikdash factor is essential. This indicates that the grasping of the lulav constitutes a fulfillment of the autonomous halacha of zecher lamikdash.

This principle assists us in understanding the following passage of the Rambam (Hilchot Lulav, Chapter 7, halacha 15): "Subsequent to the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, the rabbis instituted grasping the lulav in all places, for seven days, to remember the Mikdash. One recites a blessing every day 'Who has sanctified us in His commandments, and has commanded us to grasp the lulav' because it is a commandment from the scribes (divrei sofrim). This institution, with the other institutions established by Rabi Yochanan ben Zakai after the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, will be annulled when the Beit HaMikdash is rebuilt."

Why didn't the sages establish that at the times of the Beit HaMikdash one should grasp the lulav for seven days in all places? Apparently, the grasping of the lulav (subsequent to the first day of Sukkot) does not qualify as a rabbinic sub-section of grasping the lulav. Rather, it constitutes the fulfillment of remembering the Mikdash. This explains why the Mishnah jointly mentions the grasping of the lulav all seven days together with the prohibition of consuming chadash on the yom hanef. These two halachot will cease to apply with the rebuilding of the Mikdash.

Be'ezrat Hashem next week we will explore the realm of zecher lamikdash in relation to reciting blessings, and in the context of korech at the seder and in Sefirat HaOmer.


Categorized under: 1: Chagim > Sukkot
Uploaded: 10/16/2005 7:17:16 AM