Vort from the Rav: Tzav

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ChumashVayikra 8:10

וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה אֶת שֶׁמֶן הַמִּשְׁחָה וַיִּמְשַׁח אֶת הַמִּשְׁכָּן- And Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the Sanctuary.

Moses anointed the walls of the Mishkan with the special anointing oil required for its sanctification. The Mishnah in Shevuos (14a) states that when expanding the area of the Beis Hamikdash, there is a procedure that must be followed to sanctify the new boundaries. This procedure involves the participation of the king, a prophet, the urim vetumim, and the seventy-one members of Sanhedrin, and the offering of two thanksgiving sacrifices accompanied by song.

Notably missing from this list, however, is the shemen hamishchah. Why is it that this essential component, needed by Moses to sanctify the Mishkan, is not required for the procedure to sanctify the Beis Hamikdash? Conversely, we may ask why the involved procedure discussed in the Mishnah for expanding the Beis Hamikdash wasn’t necessary for sanctifying the Mishkan.

There is a major distinction between the sanctification procedure for the Mishkan in the desert and that of the Beis Hamikdash in Jerusalem, for their respective kedushos are very different from one another. The sanctity of the Beis Hamikdash can be described as kedushas hamakom, sanctity of its location. Its kedushah is defined by the particular place where the Beis Hamikdash stood, and not by the physical structure.

The Mishkan‘s sanctity, on the other hand, can be described as kedushas haguf, sanctity of the actual structure, not the place upon which it stood. Since the Mishkan was movable and was erected in different places, there was no sanctity to those geographical locations; otherwise, the original location would have retained its kedushah, while the Mishkan itself would have lost its kedushah upon its erection in a new location. This type of kedushah can be compared to the sanctity of a keli shareis—the vessels used for offerings. The contents of these vessels were sanctified wherever they might be, irrespective of the vessel’s location.

The sanctification procedure as performed by Moses involved anointing the walls of the Mishkan, thus sanctifying the actual physical structure with kedushah, which is identical to the way Moses sanctified the klei shareis (see Yoma 12b). The kedushah of the Beis Hamikdash, on the other hand, derived from the sanctity of its location. The shemen hamishchah was never used to generate kedushas makom, but only to provide kedushas haguf. A special procedure was therefore necessary to expand the Beis Hamikdash, involving the ritual described in the Mishnah in Shevuos.  (Shiurei HaGrid al Kerisos, pp. 77-8)

About Arnold Lustiger

Dr. Arnold Lustiger is a research scientist and has edited multiple volumes of the Rav's Torah, including the recently published Chumash Mesoras HaRav.

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