1) THE PROHIBITION AGAINST MAKING IMAGES OF THE BEIS HA'MIKDASH
OPINIONS: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa which states that one may not replicate the Heichal, Ulam, Shulchan, and Menorah of the Beis ha'Mikdash with the exact measurements of the original structures. What is the source for this prohibition?
(a) TOSFOS (43b, DH Lo Asrah) implies that the source is the verse, "Lo Sa'asun Iti" -- "You shall not make [images of that which is] with me" (Shemos 20:20), which is the source for the prohibition against making images of all of the other things mentioned in the Gemara here. Tosfos explains that just as this verse prohibitions making images of the heavenly bodies that were created to serve Hash-m, it prohibits making images of the things in this world which were made to serve Hash-m (i.e., the things in the Beis ha'Mikdash). This is also the opinion of the ME'IRI, MAHARIK (Shoresh 75), the SHE'ILTOS (#57), and many others.
The Gemara itself supports this view. The Gemara (43a) questions the conduct of Raban Gamliel, who kept pictures of the moon which he used when he questioned the witnesses who came to testify about the new moon. The Gemara asks how Raban Gamliel was allowed to keep such pictures, as the verse states that one may not make "images of that which is with" Hash-m. Abaye answers that the Torah prohibits making images only of things for which one could replicate the exact measurements, such as the Heichal, Ulam, Shulchan, and Menorah of the Beis ha'Mikdash. Since one cannot duplicate the exact measurements of the moon, the Torah does not prohibit making images of it. This clearly implies that the verse "Lo Sa'asun Iti" is the source for the prohibition against making images of the things in the Beis ha'Mikdash.
(b) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Beis ha'Bechirah 7:10) quotes these Halachos when he discusses the Mitzvah to feel, and act, in awe of the Beis ha'Mikdash. The Rambam omits these Halachos in Hilchos Avodah Zarah. The MINCHAS CHINUCH (Mitzvah #39) deduces from here that the Rambam understands that this prohibition is unlike the other prohibition the Gemara mentions against making images of the heavenly bodies, which is derived from the verse of "Lo Sa'asun Iti." The prohibition against making replicas of the things in the Beis ha'Mikdash is part of the Mitzvah to fear the Mikdash. If people were to design their houses as replicas of the Heichal and Ulam, or if they were to build replicas of the Shulchan and Menorah for their own enjoyment, then their awe and reverence for the Beis ha'Mikdash would be diminished.
What is the Rambam's source for ruling that the prohibition against making replicas of the things in the Beis ha'Mikdash differs from the other prohibitions mentioned in the Gemara?
The Minchas Chinuch answers that the Rambam noted an interesting pattern in the other prohibitions mentioned in the Gemara. All of the other Beraisos quote the verse of "Lo Sa'asun Iti" or a similar verse when they mention each prohibition. In contrast, the Beraisa which mentions the prohibition against making replicas of the things in the Beis ha'Mikdash is the only Beraisa quotes no verse. The Rambam understood this omission as an indication that there is a logical difference between this prohibition and the others. All of the other cases are prohibited because they involve a possibility that someone might worship the image that is made. An image of the Beis ha'Mikdash or of any of its contents is not something which will be used for Avodah Zarah. Rather, the prohibition is due to the Mitzvah that to have constant awe and reverence for the Mikdash.
How does the Rambam answer the strong proof from Abaye's answer? The Minchas Chinuch explains that the Rambam learns that this answer of Abaye was his own original thought, which he later retracted.
Tosfos does not agree with this understanding. Tosfos explicitly states that since the Gemara does not say "Ela Amar Abaye" ("rather Abaye says"), it is clear that Abaye never retracted any of his comments. He simply added more prohibitions which he derived from the verse. (Y. MONTROSE)
2) THE FACES OF HEAVENLY BEINGS
QUESTIONS: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa which, according to Abaye, teaches that one is prohibited to make images that resemble the faces on the Merkavah (the heavenly Chariot which consists of the images of a man's face, lion, ox, and eagle). The Beraisa derives this from the verse, "Lo Sa'asun Iti" -- "You shall not make [images of that which is] with me" (Shemos 20:20). The verse is to be read, "Lo Sa'asun Osi," meaning, "You shall not make [an image of] Me." As Hash-m has no image, the verse must refer to the heavenly entities that serve Him (see RABEINU CHANANEL to Rosh Hashanah 24b). The Gemara later extends this prohibition to making images of all other angels of the upper sphere of the heavens (as opposed to the sun and the moon, which are in the lower sphere).
(a) TOSFOS (43a, DH Lo Sa'asun; see HAGAHOS HA'BACH) asks that the Gemara earlier says that one is forbidden to make an image of the face of a man. Once the Gemara teaches that one may not make an image of a man's face, why does it need to another prohibition against making an image of an angel? Since angels are usually represented in human form including a human face, the prohibition against making an image of an angel is already known, and no special verse is needed to teach this!
(b) The same question applies with regard to the prohibition against making an image of the Merkavah. Since a man's face is one of the faces on the Merkavah, one cannot make the complete Merkavah without first transgressing the prohibition against making an image of a human face!
(The second question has an important implication. Tosfos obviously understands that the prohibition against making the Merkavah applies only to making the entire Merkavah, and not just to making one of its faces, because, otherwise, Tosfos would not have asked this question, since the prohibition would still be needed to prohibit making the other faces of the Merkavah. This is also the opinion of the RASHBA (Teshuvos 1:167) and the TUR. This, however, does not seem to be the opinion of the first explanation of Tosfos in Yoma 54a.)
(a) TOSFOS answers that no angel really looks like, or is feasibly represented in, a total human form. For an example of one difference, he cites the Gemara in Chagigah (15a) that says that angels have no neck. Without an extra verse, one might have thought that one is permitted to make an image of an angel without transgressing any prohibition, and therefore the verse is necessary.
(b) Tosfos gives a number of answers to the question regarding the prohibition against making an image of the Merkavah.
1. In his first answer, Tosfos says that it is possible that one might find a pre-made image of a human face and then complete the Merkavah by making the other three faces, and thus an extra verse is necessary to prohibit it.
2. Alternatively, Tosfos answers that although there is no need for another verse, it is possible that the Torah gives two prohibitions (see Tosfos to Yoma 54b) against making an image of the Merkavah.
3. TOSFOS in Rosh Hashanah (24b, DH Lo Sa'asun) gives another answer to the question regarding the Merkavah. It seems logical to suggest that the basis for the prohibition against making an image of the face of a man is the importance attributed to man himself, for man is the highest form of intelligent being in this world. Due to man's stature, idolaters tend to turn his image into an Avodah Zarah and worship it. One might have thought that if the face was made together with the faces of animals, then it would not be included in the prohibition. Therefore, a special verse is needed to prohibit the making of an image of the Merkavah. The RITVA here in Avodah Zarah gives a similar answer.
Tosfos in Rosh Hashanah then asks the question in the opposite manner: If there is a prohibition against making the images of the angels of the upper sphere of the heavens, then this means that the angels represented in the Keruvim (on the Aron in the Beis ha'Mikdash) also may not be made. Since the Keruvim had the faces of humans (see Sukah 5b), it must be that it is forbidden to make the face of a man as well!
Tosfos answers that the premise of the question is incorrect. Nowhere is it mentioned that the Keruvim are called "those who serve Hash-m" (in the upper spheres). Moreover, the appearance of the Keruvim in the heavens is not known, and therefore this prohibition would not teach that it is forbidden to make an image of the face of a man. (Y. MONTROSE)