1) A MOUNTAIN, A FIELD, AND A HOUSE
QUESTION: Rebbi Elazar asked: What does the verse mean when it says, "Many nations will go and say, 'Let us go up to the mountain of Hash-m, to the house of the G-d of Yakov'" (Yeshayah 2:3)? Is He the G-d of Yakov and not the G-d of Avraham and Yitzchak?
The Gemara answers that at the time of the final redemption, the Beis ha'Mikdash will not be the same as it was in the days of Avraham Avinu, when it was called merely a "Har," a mountain (Bereishis 22:14), nor will it be the same as it was in the days of Yitzchak Avinu when it was called a "Sadeh," a field (Bereishis 24:63). Rather, it will be as it was in the days of Yakov, who called it a "Bayis," a house -- "And he called the name of the place, 'The House of Hashem'" (Bereishis 28:19).
What is the significance of the comparison of the Beis ha'Mikdash to a mountain, a field, and a house?
(a) On a simple level, the passage can be explained as follows. The Beis ha'Mikdash is the place where Hash-m reveals His glory to us in this world, in such a manner that all can appreciate His dominion. This is what the Chachamim refer to as "the dwelling of the Divine Presence in this world" ("Hashra'as ha'Shechinah").
When each of the Avos visited the site where the Beis ha'Mikdash would be built, they prayed there that Hash-m reveal His Presence to the world and let everyone see His glory. They asked Hash-m to establish the Beis ha'Mikdash so that His Shechinah would dwell in this world. The prayers of each of the Avos had a cumulative effect until they eventually succeeded in accomplishing their goal. The Chachamim convey this thought to us through a series of metaphors, calling the place of the future Beis ha'Mikdash first a mountain, then a field, and then a house.
When Avraham Avinu first approached the site, he saw a mountain. The place on which the Beis ha'Mikdash would be built resembled a desolate mountain, where no sign of its owner or Creator was evident merely by looking at it.
When Yitzchak Avinu came to that place, his father's prayers had already had an effect. Yitzchak Avinu saw a field. One who looks at a field can see signs of an owner. Furrows are dug in an organized pattern, crops grow in an orderly arrangement. However, one does not see the owner himself. The owner of the field does not live there.
When Yakov Avinu came and experienced a vision there he called the place, "the House of Hash-m." He saw that the Jewish people would eventually merit that this place would resemble a house where the owner resides and can always be seen. A Beis ha'Mikdash would be built there through which Hash-m would reveal His glory to the world in a permanent way, at the time of the final redemption. (M. KORNFELD)
(b) The MAHARSHA reveals a deeper dimension to the Gemara. He explains that the three descriptions (mountain, field, and house) allude to the three Batei Mikdash, the two that were destroyed and the final one that will be established permanently. Although Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yakov each had a vision of the Beis ha'Mikdash, each one saw a different Beis ha'Mikdash which would be built in the course of Jewish history. Avraham Avinu saw the first Beis ha'Mikdash, Yitzchak Avinu saw the second, and Yakov Avinu saw the third.
The first one, which Avraham Avinu saw, stood for 410 years before it was destroyed. When it was destroyed, it was referred to as, "The mountain of Zion which is desolate" (Eichah 5:18). Avraham Avinu referred to the place of the Beis ha'Mikdash as a mountain, because he saw that after the destruction of the first Beis ha'Mikdash it would remain a desolate mountain.
Yitzchak Avinu saw the second Beis ha'Mikdash, which was also destined to be destroyed. In the prophecy of its destruction, the verse says, "Zion will be plowed like a field" (Michah 3:12; see Rashi to Ta'anis 29a, DH Nechreshah ha'Ir). Yitzchak Avinu saw the second Beis ha'Mikdash, which would be destroyed and nothing but a field would be left.
Yakov Avinu saw the third Beis ha'Mikdash, which will never be destroyed. He saw the Beis ha'Mikdash as a house that is destined to endure for eternity. This is the "house" that will be seen by those who return to Yerushalayim at the end of days.
(c) An entirely different approach to the Gemara was proposed by the BELZER REBBE, ha'Ga'on Rav Sar Shalom of Belz (Chidushei Maharash, Parshas Va'eschanan; see also Sefer Ben Yehoyada here).
The Gemara in Nedarim (39b) teaches that the creation of the Beis ha'Mikdash preceded the creation of the world (see RAN there). There was no Beis ha'Mikdash on earth until 480 years after the Exodus from Egypt, nearly three thousand years after the creation of the world. However, besides the earthly Beis ha'Mikdash, there is a heavenly Beis ha'Mikdash that stands counterpart to the earthly one (see Rashi to Bereishis 28:17). The heavenly Beis ha'Mikdash existed long before the Beis ha'Mikdash on earth was built. Perhaps the Gemara in Nedarim refers to the heavenly Beis ha'Mikdash when it says that the Beis ha'Mikdash preceded the creation of the world.
The Beis ha'Mikdash in Yerushalayim was built from stone and wood, but the heavenly Beis ha'Mikdash cannot be built from materials that exist only in the physical world. The Midrash teaches that just as the Jewish people surrounded the Mishkan in the Midbar on four sides with four different camps, so, too, in the heavenly spheres, Hash-m surrounds Himself with four different camps of angels (see Midrash Shemos Rabah 2:9, quoted by the Ramban, Bamidbar 2:2). Perhaps it is these camps of angels that are called the "heavenly Beis ha'Mikdash." Accordingly, the heavenly Beis ha'Mikdash is comprised of the four groups of angels that are encamped around the Divine Presence. (See Bereishis 32:3, where the verse refers to a group of angels as a "Machaneh," encampment. The encampments of the Jews which surrounded the Mishkan are also referred to as "Machaneh" in Bamidbar 2:3.)
However, as long as Hash-m had not yet fully revealed His presence in the physical world, and there was no earthly Beis ha'Mikdash, the heavenly Beis ha'Mikdash was also incomplete. Before Avraham Avinu, there were not four Machanos of angels surrounding the Shechinah. Rather, there was a heavenly Beis ha'Mikdash (the one that preceded the creation of the world) but it consisted of only one wall that surrounded the Shechinah. That wall was comprised of one camp of angels, one "Machaneh Elokim." As the Avos began to reveal the presence of Hash-m to those who dwell in this world, the heavenly Beis ha'Mikdash became more and more complete.
Avraham Avinu prayed at the place where the Beis ha'Mikdash would be built, opposite the heavenly Beis ha'Mikdash. With his prayers he added an additional wall to the heavenly Beis ha'Mikdash -- a second Machaneh of angels. Avraham Avinu alluded to this when he called the place a mountain, "Har." The Gematriya of "Machaneh" (103) plus "Machaneh" (103) equals 206, which is the same as the Gematriya of "Har" plus 1 (206). (A rule of Gematriya is "Im ha'Kollel": an additional 1 may be added to the combined numerical value of a word's letters. This extra 1 corresponds to the word as a whole.)
Yitzchak Avinu prayed there and added another Machaneh of angels to the heavenly Beis ha'Mikdash, thereby giving it a third "wall." He alluded to the three Machanos that now comprised the heavenly Beis ha'Mikdash when he referred to it as a "Sadeh," the Gematriya of which is 309, the same as the Gematriya of three times "Machaneh" (103).
When Yakov Avinu prayed there he added a fourth wall, thereby completing the Bayis, the house. The Gematriya of "Bayis" is 412, which is the same as four times "Machaneh" (103).
The Belzer Rebbe added that although Yakov Avinu's prayers added the fourth wall to the heavenly Beis ha'Mikdash, it did not yet have a ceiling, just as the Mishkan in the desert had four walls and no ceiling (but only a covering of cloth). Centuries after Yakov Avinu added the fourth wall to the heavenly Beis ha'Mikdash, Moshe Rabeinu stood outside Eretz Yisrael, at the end of his life, and was shown all of Eretz Yisrael, including the place of the Beis ha'Mikdash (see Rashi to Devarim 3:25). At that moment, Moshe Rabeinu also prayed for the completion of the heavenly Beis ha'Mikdash. The Torah describes his prayer with the word, "Va'eschanan" (Devarim 3:23). With his prayer, Moshe Rabeinu added a ceiling, a fifth Machaneh of angels, to the heavenly Beis ha'Mikdash. The Gematriya of five times Machaneh (103) is 515, the exact value of the word "Va'eschanan." (See Parasha Page, Vayera 5756.)
2) TWO ANIMALS FOR ONE KORBAN
QUESTION: The Mishnah discusses various cases in which a person sends his servant to slaughter an animal for the Korban Pesach on his behalf. If the servant does not know what type of animal his master prefers, and he slaughters both a goat and a sheep, the Halachah is that the first one that he slaughtered serves as the Korban Pesach. RASHI (DH Yochal) writes that the second animal must be burned.
Why must the second animal be burned? The person who sent the servant intended that only one animal be sanctified as a Korban. Once the first animal was slaughtered as the Korban Pesach, the second animal should be Chulin (non-sanctified), because the servant was not authorized to sanctify it.
ANSWER: Rashi here apparently relies on his comments to the Gemara later (DH v'ha'Tanya). The Gemara asks that the Mishnah seems to follow the opinion of "Yesh Bereirah," and that is why the first animal that was slaughtered is considered the Korban Pesach. However, the Halachah is "Ein Bereirah," and therefore there should remain a doubt which animal is the Korban Pesach, and both should need to be burned. This is the reason why Rashi says in the Mishnah that the second animal should be burned -- because of "Ein Bereirah." Why, then, is the first animal considered a valid Korban Pesach? That is the question of the Gemara.
The Gemara answers that the Mishnah is discussing a "Melech" and a "Malkah" -- aristocratic people who always have whatever type of meat they desire, and thus they do not care whether a goat or a lamb is slaughtered for them.
According to this explanation, Rashi's comment that the second animal must be burned follows only the original assumption of the Gemara. According to the Gemara's conclusion, however, the second animal is considered Chulin and does not need to be burned. This seems to be the intention of Rashi later (DH b'Melech u'Malkah) when he says that the second animal "was slaughtered for nothing." That is, it was a superfluous, unnecessary Shechitah, but the animal does not need to be burned. (M. KORNFELD)