Lecutre 90: The Names of the Structure (II) Ohel Moe'd, Mishkan Ha-edut, Ohel Ha-edut and Kodesh

  • Rav Yitzchak Levy

 

Mikdash

 

 

LECTURE # 90: THE NAMES OF THE STRUCTURE (II)

OHEL MO'ED, MISHKAN HA-EDUT, OHEL HA-EDUT AND KODESH

 

Rav Yitzchak Levi

 

 

            In this lecture, we will continue our examination of the terms used to describe the structure of the Mishkan. In order to add meaning to the word "Mishkan," let us now consider the term "Ohel Mo'ed," and then relate to the two of them together.

 

OHEL MO'ED

 

            The term Ohel Mo'ed derives from the word vi'ud – meeting. This is the way R. S.R. Hirsch understands the term:

 

In the Tent of Meeting (Ohel Mo'ed) – The most usual name for the Sanctuary, from ya'ad, related to yachad, to fix a meeting. See 25:21 – “mo'ed,” the time, or, as here, the place, for such a meeting. It is called Ohel Mo'ed, either since it is by the Sanctuary that the special presence of God in Israel, brought about by their acceptance of the Torah with complete surrender, is manifested; or inasmuch as God has appointed it as the place for His revelation to Moshe, as well as the place where Israel is constantly to give afresh practical proof of their connection with God, where they have ever afresh "to come to a meeting with God." Next in importance to the existence of the "Place of the Evidence of the Torah" – the Devir, the "Place of the Word," the source of the Light – the constant service of the "Lights" on the "Tree of National Development" (the menorah) is necessary for the meaning of the "Tent" as Ohel Mo'ed, as the Tent of "finding oneself together with God." (Shemot 27:21)

 

            We see from the words of R. Hirsch that the word "mo'ed" can be understood both as referring to time and as place.

 

            While it is true that the word "mo'ed" can be understood also as referring to time, the Ohel Mo'ed is generally described as the place of the priestly service. As opposed to the Mishkan, which denotes a place of residence or the presence of the Shekhina, Ohel Mo'ed is characterized as the place where the priests perform the service. In the coming sections, we will bring several examples that express this point.

 

1. THE OHEL MO'ED AND THE ALTAR

 

            On more than one occasion, the Torah describes two fields of activity – the Ohel Mo'ed, on the one hand, and the altar on the other. Thus, for example, at the end of the account describing the priestly garments worn by Aharon and his sons, it is stated:

 

And they shall be upon Aharon and upon his sons when they come in the Ohel Mo'ed or when they come near to the altar to minister in the holy place, that they bear not iniquity and die; it shall be a statue for ever to him and his seed after him.[1] (Shemot 28:43)

 

            The priestly garments must be worn both when entering the Ohel Mo'ed – the Heikhal and the Holy – and when approaching the altar – in the central courtyard.

 

            In anticipation of the revelation of the Shekhina in the wake of the offering of the daily sacrifice at the end of Parashat Tetzaveh, it says (Shemot 29:44): "And I will sanctify the Ohel Mo'ed and the altar; I will sanctify also both Aharon and his sons, to minister to Me in the priest's office." There is a two-fold sanctification: the Ohel Mo'ed on the one hand, and the altar on the other.[2]

 

            Regarding the laver it says:

For Aharon and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat; when they go into the Ohel Mo'ed, they shall wash with water, that they die not, or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire to the Lord. (Shemot 30:19-20)

 

            Two areas of service require the washing of hands and feet – entry into the Ohel Mo'ed and approaching the altar.[3]

 

2. THE OHEL MO'ED AND THE HOLY

 

            Another verse from which we may learn the place to which the term Ohel Mo'ed refers is connected to the service of the High Priest on Yom Kippur. When the Torah summarizes the atonement performed by the High Priest, it says:

 

And he shall make atonement for the holy sanctuary (mikdash ha-kodesh), and he shall make atonement for the Ohel Mo'ed, and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation. (Vayikra 16:33)

 

            The Ibn Ezra explains that the term "mikdash ha-kodesh" refers to the area within the veil. The verse seems to be describing the process of atonement performed by the High Priest on Yom Kippur from inside outwards. First, "mikdash ha-kodesh," the Holy of Holies (through the sprinkling of the blood of the bullock and the goat), afterwards the Ohel Mo'ed, the Heikhal, and afterwards the outer altar.[4]

 

            According to this understanding, we can associate the entry into the Ohel Mo'ed as referring to the Heikhal, whereas the "Kodesh" refers to the Holy of Holies. Similarly, in Parashat Acharei Mot (Vayikra 16), which deals with the service of the High Priest on Yom Kippur, the word "Kodesh" usually refers to the Holy of Holies ("That he come not at all times into the Kodesh within the veil").[5]

 

            The distinction made in this parasha between the Kodesh and the Ohel Mo'ed is very interesting. Thus, for example:

 

And there shall be no man in the Ohel Mo'ed when he goes in to make atonement in the Kodesh, until he comes out, and has made atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel. (ibid. v. 17)

 

            Scripture distinguishes here between the Ohel Mo'ed and the Kodesh.[6] In other words, no man shall be in the Heikhal when he comes to atone in the Holy of Holies. Thus, for example, we find in the words of the Chizkuni (ad loc.):

 

"And no man" – of the priests, for it is obvious to us that a non-priest may not enter the Heikhal. "Shall be in the Ohel Mo'ed" lest they contract ritual impurity while they are there, and the priest cannot atone for impurity contracted on that day.

 

            So too explains the Netziv in his Ha-Amek Davar:

 

"And the cloud covered the Ohel Mo'ed" – Ohel Mo'ed in all places means the Heikhal, not like Ohel Ha-Edut, which refers to the Holy of Holies where the tablets of testimony rest. (Shemot 22:34)

 

3. OHEL MO'ED AS A PLACE OF ENTRY AND A PLACE OF SERVICE

 

            The use of the Ohel Mo'ed as a place of service is evident from several other places:

 

  • The Ohel Mo'ed is a place where the priestly garments are worn to minister in the Holy (Shemot 29:30).
  • When the priests must eat of the sacrifices, they do this at the entrance to the Ohel Mo'ed (Shemot 29:32).
  • The sacrifices are offered at the entrance to the Ohel Mo'ed, and so too the sprinkling of their blood (Vayikra 1:5).
  • The courtyard containing the whole burnt offering altar is called the courtyard of the Ohel Mo'ed (Vayikra 6:19).
  • The whole burnt offering altar is itself found at the entrance to the Ohel Mo'ed (Vayikra 4:7).

 

The fact that even realms of activity that are found outside the Ohel Mo'ed are related in their names to the Ohel Mo'ed proves that the Ohel Mo'ed is a place of service.

 

4. OHEL MO'ED – THE ENTIRE STRUCTURE OF THE MISHKAN

 

            At first glance, it might have been argued that the word Ohel Mo'ed refers to the structure in its entirety. While it is true that the main part of the service takes place in the Heikhal, the term "Ohel Mo'ed" refers to the entire structure. Thus, too, explains the Ramban, when he summarizes the precise definitions of the terms Mishkan, Ohel, and Ohel Mo'ed.

 

"And they brought the Mishkan to Moshe, the tent and all its vessels" – the verse should be understood as if there were a "vav" – "And they brought the Mishkan to Moshe, and the tent, and all its vessels." For the curtains of fine twined linen (Shemot 26:1), about which it says: "And you shall couple the curtains… that the Mishkan may be one" (ibid. v. 6), and the curtains of goats' hair comprise the tent, as it is said in their regard: "And you shall make curtains of goats' hair to be a covering upon the Mishkan" (v. 7), "And you shall couple the tent together, that it may be one" (v. 11). Here too: "And they brought the Mishkan to Moshe, and the tent, and all its vessels." For it mentions all the names, and sometimes the entire structure is called Ohel Mo'ed, as it says: "And they shall make all that I have commanded you, the Ohel Mo'ed" (ibid. 31:6-7); this is the structure in its entirety, and so too all the vessels of the service in the Mishkan. (Shemot 39:33)

 

5. OHEL AND OHEL MO'ED

 

            We have seen then that the term "Ohel Mo'ed" refers to the temporary Mishkan that was fashioned in the form of a tent. The place is defined as a site of service, to which people come, at whose entrance the sacrifices are offered, and in whose courtyard the priests eat of the sacrifices.

 

            On the other hand, we find that the Torah states that over the Mishkan there are other curtains – curtains of goats' hair that are an ohel, a covering, upon the Mishkan (Shemot 26:7) – see the note for examples.[7]

 

            Is there any connection between the curtains of goats' hair, which are called an ohel, and the Ohel Mo'ed?

 

            Rashi, in his commentary to Bamidbar 4:25, identifies the curtains of goats' hair with the Ohel Mo'ed. When the Torah describes the service of the families of the Gershoni, it says:

 

And they shall bear the curtains of the Mishkan, and the Ohel Mo'ed, its covering, and the covering of the tachash skins that is above upon it, and the screen for the door of the Ohel Mo'ed.

 

            The Torah is clearly describing here the carrying of the curtains by the families of the Gershoni - the inner curtain of the Mishkan, the ohel above it that is called here Ohel Mo'ed, and the two coverings above the ohel, its covering and its covering of tachash skins that is above upon it. Rashi explains as follows:

 

"The curtains of the Mishkan" – the ten lower ones.

"And the Ohel Mo'ed" – the curtains of goats' hair which were made as a tent above it.

"Its covering" – the rams' skins dyed red.

"The screen for the entrance" – the veil as the east side.

 

            This is also the position of the Netziv in his commentary, Ha-Amek Davar:

 

And so it seems that the curtains of goats' hair are called Ohel Mo'ed and the linen curtains are called Mishkan, as is explained in the book of Bamidbar 4:25. And the cloud was upon the upper curtains, and the glory of God filled the lower space, and in the middle it was empty. (Shemot 22:34, s.v. va-yekhas)

 

            It is interesting to see here a phenomenon that parallels what we saw with respect to the word "Mishkan." We said earlier that the word "Mishkan" in its simple sense refers to the curtains of goats' hair that roof the Mishkan, but at the same time it refers also to the Heikhal or to the structure in its entirety.[8]

 

            We see from here that there is a connection between the curtains and the entire structure, and it is reasonable to assume that there are different connotations to each term, the Mishkan on the one hand, and the Ohel Mo'ed on the other (as we shall also see in the continuation).

 

            The fact that the same word is used in two different senses in itself testifies to its importance. If the entire structure is called Mishkan and it is called Ohel Mo'ed, this points to the importance of each one. The importance of each name is great enough (the linen curtains, on the one hand, and the curtains of goats' hair, on the other) to leave an impression on the name of the structure in its entirety – the Mishkan, on the one hand, and the Ohel Mo'ed, on the other.[9]

 

            The Netziv relates in several places to the meaning of the words "mishkan" and "ohel mo'ed." Thus, for example, he writes in his commentary to the verse, "And they brought the Mishkan to Moshe, the Ohel, and all its vessels, its clasps, its boards, its pillars, and its bars" (Shemot 39:33):

 

"And they brought the Mishkan to Moshe, the Ohel": All the Rishonim explain that "the Mishkan" refers to the linen curtains, [and] "the Ohel" refers to the curtains of goats' hair, as if it were written, "and the Ohel." Now, it is certainly possible to explain in this manner, and for this reason the gemara in Shabbat (28a) did not bring [proof] from this verse that the linen curtains are called "Ohel," but rather from that which is written below: "And he spread the Ohel over the Mishkan" (Shemot 40:19), for there we are forced to explain in that manner, as will be explained there. But since we learned that this one [the linen curtains] are also called "Ohel," it is better to explain also this verse as follows: "And they brought the Mishkan," in general, as is written in the previous verse; "the Ohel," i.e., two types of curtains. And so too, we can explain the verse above (35:11) with these two explanations. (Shemot 39:33)

 

            The Netziv first brings the viewpoint of all the Rishonim who understand the word "Mishkan" as referring to the inner curtains (this in accordance with the original and plain sense of the word), and the word "ohel" as referring to the curtains of goats' hair. According to him, the fact that the Torah states, "And he spread the Ohel over the Mishkan, and put the covering of the Ohel above upon it, as the Lord commanded Moshe," reinforces this understanding that the word "Mishkan" refers to the lower curtains and "ohel" refers to the curtains of goats' hair.

 

            The Netziv brings another proof from the gemara in Shabbat. The gemara there asks: From where do we know that a linen tent is different than all other tents and is susceptible to tent impurity?

 

R. Elazar said: The meaning of tent [ohel] is learned from the Mishkan. Here it is written: "This is the law when a man dies in a tent [ohel];" and there it is written: "And he spread the tent [ohel] over the Mishkan." Just as there [the covering] of linen is designated as a tent, so here too, [a covering] of linen is designated as a tent. (Shabbat 26b)

 

            In the wake of the gemara, the Netziv raises the possibility that the lower curtains are also called "ohel," and therefore he explains that "And they brought the Mishkan" refers to the structure as a whole, whereas "the Ohel" refers to two types of curtains – the lower curtains of linen, and the curtains of goats' hair above them.

 

            So too regarding Shemot 35:11: "The Mishkan, its Ohel, and its covering, its clasps, and its boards, its bars, its pillars, and its sockets" - we can explain, according to the Netziv, that the word "mishkan" refers to the Mishkan in its entirety, and the word "ohel" refers to the two types of curtains.

 

            In our opinion, according to the plain sense of Scripture, the word "mishkan" does in fact refer to the inner curtains, and "ohel" refers to the curtains of goats' hair.     We cited the Netziv in order to show that there can be different understandings regarding this matter as well.

 

6. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE CURTAINS AND THE STRUCTURE

 

            The Meshekh Chokhma illuminates for us the relationship between the curtains that roof the structure and the inside of the structure itself. He proposes a novel understanding that analyzes the structure of the Mishkan from two perspectives – from the side and from above. He writes as follows:

 

"And you shall make a covering for the Ohel of rams' skins dyed red, and a covering above of tachash skins" (Shemot 26:14). R. Yehuda and R. Nechemya disagree whether there was one covering or two coverings. It would appear that just as there were partitions before coming to the Devir, so too there were coverings above. There was the Mishkan, i.e., the Heikhal, and beyond it was the courtyard; thus, there were two partitions before coming to the innermost sanctum, i.e., the Holy of Holies: the Heikhal and the courtyard. So too it is reasonable that above the ark and the keruvim, the place where the Glory rests, the linen curtains that are called the Mishkan served as a cover, and the clasps appeared as stars, just as the veil covered the keruvim. And above there were two partitions – the covering of curtains of goats' hair, namely, the Ohel, and the covering of tachash skins above it, two coverings. We find, however, that the Tannaim disagree whether the sanctity of the Heikhal and of the Ulam is the same, and the beginning of Eiruvin it says that according to R. Yehuda, the sanctity of the Heikhal and the sanctity of the Ulam are distinct. If so, there were three partitions: the Heikhal – the site of the table and the candelabrum in the Mishkan, and the Ulam in the Mikdash – the empty place in the Mishkan - and the courtyard. He therefore thought that these were two coverings, and there were on top three partitions: the covering of the Ohel (26:7), the rams' skins dyed red, and the covering of tachash skins.

And according to the one who said they were one covering, my father, of blessed memory, explained: "A covering above (milema'ala) of tachash skins" – on the highest point, that their place was on the roof above the ark. This is "milema'ala" – that the covering of tachash skins was directly above the Holy of Holies. And therefore in Bamidbar 3:24: "And the charge of the sons of Gershon in the Ohel Mo'ed shall be the Mishkan, and the Ohel, its covering" – there was one covering. (Shemot 26:14)

 

            The Meshekh Chokhma relates to the disagreement regarding the question whether above the curtains of goats' hair there were two coverings – rams' skins dyed red and tachash skins – in accordance with the viewpoint of R. Yehuda, or one covering of half rams' skins and half tachash skins, in accordance with the viewpoint of R. Nechemya.

 

            The novelty in his words is his viewing the Holy of Holies as an inner sanctum encompassed by partitions both on its side (its place of entry) and on top (the curtains).

 

            According to the Meshekh Chokhma’s explanation, there is a correspondence between the partitions on the ground and the curtains above the structure that serve as upper partitions. The coverings above the ark are similar to the way a person enters the Mishkan – through the courtyard, the Heikhal, to the Holy of Holies: the kaporet and the keruvim are the Mishkan; the linen curtains, and on top of them, the curtains of goats' hair which are the Ohel, and above them, a covering of tachash skins.

 

            It may be possible to bring support for this understanding from the fact that the Torah itself states:

 

And you shall hang up the veil under the clasps that you may bring in there within the veil the ark of the Testimony; and the veil shall be for you as a division between the Holy and the Holy of Holies. (Shemot 26:33)

 

In other words, there is an interesting connection between the location of the veil that separates between the Holy and the Holy of Holies and the location of the clasps on the inner curtains of the Mishkan (we will expand upon this point below).

 

            The Meshekh Chokhma continues with a discussion regarding the question of whether the sanctity of the Ulam and that of the Heikhal are the same sanctity or separate sanctities. He wishes to argue that the viewpoint that the Ulam had a separate sanctity accords with the opinion that there were two separate coverings – rams' skins dyed red and tachash skins - whereas the viewpoint that the Ulam and the Heikhal had the same sanctity accords with the opinion that there was only one covering, part of which was rams' skins and part of which was tachash skins. In continuation of what we learned that the mishkan, the inner curtains of linen, and the ohel, the curtains of goats’ hair, impress their name on the entire structure, the Meshekh Chokhma's approach allows us to consider the inner space of the structure from two perspectives, and see it as surrounded by partitions on the side and by parallel coverings on top.

 

            Thus far, we have related to the meaning of the following terms: Mikdash, Mishkan, and Ohel Mo'ed. Before we examine the meaning of the last term that defines the Mikdash and the holy, let us consider one additional aspect connected to the Mishkan and the Ohel.

 

MISHKAN HA-EDUT AND OHEL HA-EDUT

 

            In a number of places the Torah calls both the Mishkan and the Ohel Mo'edMishkan Ha-Edut and “Ohel Ha-Edut.

 

1. MEANING OF THE WORD "EDUT"

 

            The commentators mention three senses of the word "edut":

 

  • The ark is sometimes called "Aron Ha-Edut"
  • The tablets of the law are called "Luchot Ha-Edut"
  • The Torah itself is called "Edut"

 

We will now bring the views of several Rishonim who comment on verses that relate to these expressions:

 

  • As the Lord commanded Moshe, so Aharon laid it up before the Testimony (edut), to be kept. (Shemot 16:34)

 

Ibn Ezra:

 

This means before God, before the Testimony, which is the ark, and it is called the Ark of the Testimony, owing to the Tablets of the Covenant which were found there.

 

  • And you shall put into the ark the Testimony (edut) which I shall give you. (ibid. 25:16)

 

"The Testimony" – The Torah which is Testimony between Me and You, that I commanded you the commandments written therein. (Rashi, ad loc.)

 

And you shall place the tablets which are the Testimony, as if they were a ketuba deed, and they are the Tablets of the Covenant. And the faithful witness: "And he took and put the Testimony into the ark" (Shemot 40:20). (Ibn Ezra, ad loc.)

 

It is possible to explain the word "edut" mentioned here that he should place into the ark the scroll of the Torah, and also the Ha'azinu song which God commanded should be there as a witness. What this means is that he should put it near the ark alongside it. According to this, "And in the ark you shall put the Testimony" (Shemot 25:21), is as if it said: And with the ark and near it you shall put that which I shall give you. (Abarbanel, ad loc.)

 

Edut, in the sense of ed (witness), as Rashi explained. And also in the sense of yi'ud (meeting), for they connect, as it were, the Holy One, blessed be He, and Israel. (Ha-Amek Davar, ad loc.)

 

            What is especially interesting, in addition to the main understandings presented above, is the view of the Netziv, who understands that the term "edut" can be explained in the sense of "yi'ud," meeting.

 

2. MISHKAN HA-EDUT

 

            As stated above, on several occasions the Torah refers to the entire Mishkan as Mishkan Ha-Edut (thus in Shemot 38:21; Bamidbar 1:50, 53; 10:11). Since, according to our approach, the primary sense of the word "mishkan" relates to the inner curtains, and especially to the most sanctified section of the structure – the Holy of Holies[10] - we well understand the expression "Mishkan Ha-Edut" in all its senses,= whether the reference is to the tablets, the Torah, or the ark. From the verses, there is a clear connection between the tablets and the ark (for example, Devarim 10:5: "And I turned and came down from the mountain, and put the tablets in the ark which I had made; and there they were, as the Lord commanded me").[11]

 

            There is also a clear connection between the ark and the Holy of Holies (for example, Shemot 40:20-21: "And he took and put the Testimony into the ark, and set the poles on the ark, and put the covering above upon the ark: and he brought the ark into the Mishkan, and set up the veil of the screen, and screened the ark of the Testimony, as the Lord commanded Moshe").

 

            Regarding the setting of the Torah alongside the ark, the Torah states in Devarim 31:25-26: "And Moshe commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, ’Take this book of the Torah, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you.’" If so, according to all the understandings, there is a connection between the Mishkan and Testimony, whether the reference is to the tablets, the Torah, or the ark in the Holy of Holies.

 

3. THE OHEL HA-EDUT

 

            The Torah uses the expression "Ohel Ha-Edut" in several places (Bamidbar 17:22, 23; 18:2). Thus far, we have argued that the term "Mishkan" refers primarily to the Holy of Holies, and that the word "Ohel Mo'ed" refers primarily to the Holy. If so, it seems that the word "Edut" (however we understand it) is more connected to the part that is called "Mishkan" – why then does the Torah speak of "Ohel Ha-Edut"?

 

            It is possible that sometimes the Torah means that the "Ohel Mo'ed" - which as stated refers primarily to the Holy, the Heikhal - relates to the entirety of the structure beneath the curtains of goats' hair, and even to the innermost section, the Holy of Holies. This is the case in the story of the setting down of the staffs and of the Korach affair; it is clear from the context that we are dealing with a Divine revelation, whose place is in the Holy of Holies.

 

            It is interesting that the Netziv explains here as follows:

 

Mishkan refers to the entire Heikhal, i.e., the Ohel Mo'ed.[12] But Ohel Ha-Edut is the Holy of Holies, in which rest the tablets of Testimony, and above it the cloud would come and extend also to the Mishkan that is adjacent to the Ohel Ha-Edut. And at the very beginning of the setting up [of the Mishkan], it says at the end of the book of Shemot: "And the cloud covered the Ohel Mo'ed" (40:34), and therefore Moshe was not able to enter there, but from then on it only extended in the direction of the Holy of Holies (Bamidbar 10:15, s.v. le-Ohel Ha-Edut)

 

            Regarding the watch of the tribe of Levi, the Netziv writes:

 

And it would have been fitting to write, "and before the Ohel Mo'ed" (because the Levites stand watch from the outside unlike the priests)… only that here it deals also with future generations, and there were times that the ark was not in the house of God, e.g., when Shilo was destroyed, and the ark stood in the house of Aminadav in Giv'a, and it is written in I Shemuel 7:1: "And he sanctified Elazar his son to keep the ark of the Lord." Therefore, it says, "Ohel Ha-Edut," i.e., where the Testimony rests. (Bamidbar 18:2, s.v. u-vanekha)

 

KODESH (THE HOLY)

 

            The primary meaning of the word "Kodesh" is the ark. Thus, for example, in the account of the burdens of the descendants of Levi:

 

And when Aharon and his sons have made an end of covering the Kodesh, and all the vessels of the Kodesh, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kehat shall come to bear it; but they shall not touch any Kodesh, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kehat in the Ohel Mo'ed. (Bamidbar 4:15)

 

            In this sense, the word "Kodesh" parallels and is identical in meaning to the word "Mikdash" (as is implied in Bamidbar 10:21: "And the Kehati set forward, bearing the Mikdash, that they might set up the Mishkan against their arrival").

 

            Rashi, however, writes there (Bamidbar 4:15) that the word “Kodesh” relates to the ark and to the altar. So too in Bamidbar 4:20: "But they shall not go in to see when the Kodesh is covered," as the Rishonim ad loc. explain (Rashbam, Chizkuni, Ibn Ezra), that the reference is to seeing the ark.

 

            The secondary meaning of the word "Kodesh" relates to the Heikhal.

 

            This is explicit in the verse:

 

And you shall hang up the veil under the clasps, that you may bring in there within the veil the ark of the Testimony; and the veil shall be for you as a division between the Kodesh and the Holy of Holies. (Shemot 26:33)

 

            The verse explicitly distinguishes between the Kodesh and the Holy of Holies. This also follows from other places. For example:

 

And its sound shall be heard when he goes in to the Kodesh before the Lord. (Shemot 28:35)

 

            The reference here is clearly to the Heikhal (only there is the service performed in the golden garments, and not in the Holy of Holies).

 

            Another example is found in the following verses in the wake of the sin of Nadav and Avihu:

 

Behold, the blood of it was not brought in within the Kodesh; you should indeed have eaten it in the Kodesh, as I commanded. (Vayikra 10:18)

 

            As the Rashbam explains (ad loc.): "In the Heikhal."[13]

 

            The third sense in which the word Kodesh is used relates to the Holy of Holies, in the service of the High Priest on Yom Kippur, as was brought earlier in this lecture (in the section dealing with the Ohel Mo'ed and the Kodesh).

 

            The fourth meaning of the word Kodesh relates to the entire structure of the Mishkan. Thus, for example:

 

And of the hundred talents of silver were cast the sockets of the Kodesh, and the sockets of the veil; a hundred sockets of the hundred talents, a talent for a socket. (Shemot 38:27)

 

            As the Ramban explains:

 

Scripture calls the Mishkan by the term Kodesh, and the veil separates in that it separates between the Kodesh and the Holy of Holies, as if it said: the sockets of the Kodesh and the sockets of the Holy of Holies.

 

            It may be possible to bring further proof from the Yom Kippur service: "That he come not at all times into the Kodesh within the veil" (Vayikra 16:2). In other words, there is a Kodesh in general, and a Kodesh within the veil.           

 

            It is possible that the verse in Bamidbar 4:12, "And they shall take all the instruments of ministry, with which they minister in the sanctuary, and put them in a cloth of blue…," relates to the Heikhal, and it is possible that it relates to the structure in its entirety.

 

            A fifth sense of the word Kodesh that is found in the words of the commentators relates to the outer altar, or the courtyard.

 

            Thus, for example, the verse:

 

And when Aharon and his sons have made an end of covering the Kodesh, and all the vessels of the Kodesh, as the camp is to set forward. (Bamidbar 4:15)

 

Rashi explains that the reference is to the ark and to the altar.

 

            The Ibn Ezra in several places explains the word "Kodesh" in connection with the courtyard. Thus, for example, with respect to the removal of Nadav and Avihu, "…Come near, carry your brethren from before the Kodesh out of the camp" (Vayikra 10:4), he explains that the reference is to the courtyard corresponding to the camp.

 

            In summarizing the use of the word "Kodesh," we once again find that the word has a primary and basic meaning and a broader meaning - from the ark, through the Heikhal, the Holy of Holies, and the entire structure of the Mishkan, to the courtyard, the outer altar and the entrance to the Ohel Mo'ed. In other words, the word "Kodesh" relates to the entirety of the sanctified area.

 

(Translated by David Strauss)



[1] The Torah distinguishes between coming into the Ohel Mo'ed, i.e., into the Heikhal, and coming near the altar, and therefore it uses these two words - "bi'ah" (coming into) and "gisha" (coming near).

[2] There is a vey interesting parallelism between the two parts of the verse – between Aharon and the Ohel Mo'ed, and between the sons of Aharon and the altar. This parallel is connected to an issue that we will expand upon later in the series. The service in the Heikhal is primarily that of Aharon, whereas the sons of Aharon perform their service in the courtyard of the burnt offering altar.

[3] This is connected to a different point, which we will expand upon later in the series - the relationship between the external service and the inner service in the Mikdash. There are two areas in which the priest performs his service – an inner area, the structure of the Mishkan, and an outer area, the courtyard. We will expand upon this idea in the future.

[4] Here too we see an inner division between the Ohel Mo'ed and the altar, and also the Holy of Holies.

[5] The Ibn Ezra explains (ad loc.) the term Kodesh as opposed to the Ohel Mo'ed. The Kodesh here refers to the Holy of Holies, and it is called "Kodesh" in relation to the Ohel Mo'ed. It is, however, possible to conclude, according to the plain sense of the text, that "Kodesh" refers to the Heikhal and to the Holy of Holies, and therefore it was ncecessary for the Torah to write, "the Kodesh within the veil." In any event, this was the Ibn Ezra's undertanding.

[6] Another example: "And he shall make atonement for the Kodesh, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their ransgressions in all their sins; and so shall he do for the Ohel Mo'ed, who remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness." (Vayikra 16:16). Once again the Ibn Ezra explains that "Kodesh" refers here to the Holy of Holies, and the words, "And so shall he do for the Ohel Mo'ed" – that he should sprinkle seven times before the veil, and on the horns of the incense altar. In other words, the Ohel Mo'ed is the Heikhal in this particular case.

[7] Fifty clasps of copper are put into the loops – "and you shall couple the tent together, that it may be one" (Shemot 26:12). Then there is a covering for the tent of rams' skins dyed red and a covering above of tachash skins (Shemot 26:14). A similar account is given in the execution: "And he made curtains of goats' hair for the tent over the Mishkan; eleven curtains he made them" (Shemot 36:14).

Similarly, when the vessels of the Mishkan are brought to Moshe, it says (Shemot 39:33): "And they brought the Mishkan to Moshe, the Ohel, and all its vessels, its clasps, its boards, its bars, and its pillars, and its sockets, and the covering of rams' skins dyed red, and the covering of tachash skins, and the veil of the screen." In practice, it is said regarding Moshe (Shemot 40:19): "And he spread the tent over the Mishkan, and put the covering of the tent above upon it, as the Lord commanded Moshe," that is to say, a tent of curtains of goats' hair cover the Mishkan, i.e., the inner linen curtains.

[8] In accordance with the two understandings cited above of the meaning of the term, Ohel Mo'ed.

[9] Later in the series, we will consider the spiritual meaning of the relationship between the Mishkan and the Ohel.

[10] We will adduce proof to this understanding in future lectures.

[11] We will not address the disagreement among the Tannaim and among the Rishonim regarding the question of how many arks there were - one or two.

[12] It is possible to reconcile between the words of the Netziv here and his words elsewhere, but this is not the forum to expand upon this issue.

[13] Additional examples: Shemot 28:29; 29:30; I Melakhim 8:8.