1) HALACHAH: OFFERING KORBANOS TODAY
OPINIONS: A number of Tana'im and Amora'im disagree about whether the first Kedushah of Yerushalayim remains or whether it was removed at the time of the destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash. This argument is the basis for the discussion among the Poskim concerning whether Korbanos may be offered today.
(a) The DERISHAS TZIYON (HA'GA'ON RAV TZVI HIRSH KALISHER, as cited by TZITZ ELIEZER 10:5:1) writes that the RAMBAM (Hilchos Beis ha'Bechirah 6:16) rules that Kedushah Rishonah, the original Kedushah of Eretz Yisrael, remains in effect with regard to all Halachos associated with Yerushalayim and the Beis ha'Mikdash. The RA'AVAD (ibid.), however, argues that even according to the opinion that the Kedushah is still extant, it is extant only with regard to the Kedushah of the rest of Eretz Yisrael; all of the Tana'im and Amora'im agree that the Kedushah of Yerushalayim and the Beis ha'Mikdash is no longer present. (It will return only at the time of the building of the third Beis ha'Mikdash.)
The Derishas Tziyon asserts that it should be permitted -- according to both opinions -- to bring the Korban Pesach today at the location of the Mizbe'ach. According to the Rambam, the Kedushah is still present. According to the Ra'avad, it should be no different from bringing the Korban on a Bamah. The Gemara in Megilah (10a) implies that the opinion that the Kedushah is no longer present permits offering Korbanos on a Bamah. Why, then, do the Jewish people not offer the Korban Pesach today?
(b) TOSFOS in Megilah (10a) and others assert that both opinions agree that a Bamah remains prohibited even after Yerushalayim is destroyed and loses its Kedushah. This is because the Torah's allowance for offering Korbanos on Bamos applied only until the Mizbe'ach in Yerushalayim was built. Once the Korbanos were offered upon the Mizbe'ach in the Beis ha'Mikdash, Bamos became forever prohibited, even when the Beis ha'Mikdash would no longer be standing, and regardless of whether the city still has Kedushah. The argument between these opinions is whether or not one may bring a Korban at the location of the Mizbe'ach in the Beis ha'Mikdash. The opinion that there is no longer any Kedushah maintains that all Korbanos are forbidden today, even if they are brought in the place of the Mizbe'ach. This contradicts the Derishas Tziyon's argument that the Ra'avad would permit bringing such a Korban. (For a comprehensive discussion of the opinion of the Rishonim regarding this argument, see Insights to Megilah 10:1.)
(c) Nevertheless, it seems that at least according to the Rambam, offering Korbanos today at the location of the Mizbe'ach should be permitted. However, there are many reasons why this still may be Halachically unacceptable. One reason is that from the times of the Rishonim, there has been a doubt about the lineage of every Kohen. (It is said that the Vilna Ga'on, who was a firstborn son, would perform Pidyon ha'Ben and redeem himself, out of doubt, from every Kohen he would meet, in order to ensure that he was redeemed from a genuine Kohen.) No Korban may be offered without a genuine Kohen to perform the Avodah.
A second reason involves the issue of offering the Korban Pesach when everyone is Tamei. The Halachah is that the Korban may be brought when the entire nation is Tamei. The Gemara asks, however, that there still is prohibition against entering the Beis ha'Mikdash while Tamei. One opinion in the Gemara says that the bringing of the Korban overrides the prohibition of Tum'as Mikdash and permits transgressing the Isur ("Dechuyah"), while another opinion says that the issue of Tum'ah is not relevant at all; the Isur does not apply when the entire nation is Tamei ("Hutrah"). The difference between these two opinions is whether or not there is a need for atonement after the Korban is brought, due to the presence of a person who was Tamei in the Mikdash. If the Isur of Tum'as Mikdash applies but may be transgressed for the sake of bringing the Korban, then the Kohen Gadol's wearing of the Tzitz atones for the Tum'as Mikdash. Nowadays, though, there is no Tzitz to wear and to atone for the Tum'ah, and thus bringing a Korban when everyone is Tamei should not be possible, since there will be no way to atone for the Tum'as Mikdash afterwards.
(d) The CHASAM SOFER proposes an argument in favor of bringing Korbanos today. He maintains that the correct opinion in the argument regarding the suspension of the Isur of Tum'as Mikdash when everyone is Tamei is that the Tum'ah is "Hutrah" -- the Isur does not apply at all (and not that it applies but may be transgressed for the sake of bringing a Korban), and thus atonement for the Tum'as Mikdash is not necessary. However, the Chasam Sofer admits that there is another serious problem with offering Korbanos today. REBBI AKIVA EIGER wrote to the Chasam Sofer that the exact identity of the Techeles and Argaman has been forgotten (regarding Techeles, see Insights to Shabbos 75:1). RASHI and the RAMBAM disagree about the identity of Argaman, and there are other opinions among the Rishonim. Consequently, the Avnet (the belt of the Bigdei Kehunah) cannot be fashioned, and without all of the Bigdei Kehunah the Kohen may not perform the Avodah.
(e) There have been at least two famous Halachic authorities who strongly disagreed with the above arguments. As noted above, the Chasam Sofer writes that the problem of Tum'ah is not an issue. Moreover, in a famous letter to the BINYAN TZIYON (the author of the ARUCH LA'NER), RAV TZVI HIRSCH KALISHER addresses the problem that today's Kohanim lack indubitable lineage. The Mishnah in Eduyos (8:7) quotes Rebbi Yehoshua who says, "I have a tradition from Rebbi Yochanan ben Zakai who heard from his teacher, who heard from his teacher, that there is a Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai that Eliyahu ha'Navi is not coming to make Tamei and Tahor, to distance and to make close. Rather, he will distance those who forced themselves close, and make close those who were forcibly distanced." This means that Eliyahu ha'Navi is not going to reveal anything new with regard to lineage. He will only push away people who forced themselves to be accepted as having proper lineage, and he will gather in people who were knowingly and wrongfully distanced. Rav Tzvi Hirsh Kalisher questions the wording of this Mishnah: why does Rebbi Yehoshua open his Agadic comment with such forceful language to insure that his statement will be accepted? The Gemara usually does not deal with topics that are relevant only in the time of Mashi'ach. What, then, is so important about Rebbi Yehoshua's statement?
Rav Tzvi Hirsch Kalisher explains that Rebbi Yehoshua's statement has a very practical ramification. Rebbi Yehoshua is teaching that there is a Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai that Eliyahu ha'Navi will make no new revelations concerning any Kohen who is now accepted as a Kohen. This shows that the lineage of a Kohen is not suspect.
The Binyan Tziyon (#1) rejects this argument because it contradicts the words of TOSFOS in Sanhedrin (51b). Tosfos there asks a similar question. Why does the Gemara in Kidushin (72b) state that the Halachah follows the opinion of Rebbi Yosi, who says that in the future (in the times of Mashi'ach) people who have questionable lineage will be "purified"? What difference does it make now to know that in the future the Halachah will follow the view of Rebbi Yosi? Tosfos answers that there is a practical ramification even nowadays. This Halachah teaches that one does not have to be careful to refrain from marrying people of uncertain lineage. Rebbi Yosi reassures us that those people will be found to have good lineage. The Binyan Tziyon states that Tosfos similarly would say that this is the reason for the strong language of the Mishnah in Eduyos. Thus, the practical ramification of these statements of the Tana'im is not that a Kohen's lineage today is undoubted, but that an ordinary person's lineage (with regard to Mamzerus) is not doubted (and thus one may marry a person of uncertain lineage). The Binyan Tziyon cites additional sources in the Gemara which apparently disprove the rest of Rav Tzvi Hirsch Kalisher's arguments.
HALACHAH: Although the KAFTOR VA'FERACH was in favor of bringing Korbanos nowadays, almost all Halachic authorities were vehemently opposed to bringing Korbanos nowadays. May the Beis ha'Mikdash be rebuilt speedily in our days. (Y. MONTROSE)
2) DIFFERENT FORMS OF BOWING
QUESTIONS: The Gemara teaches that "Kidah" is the term the verse uses to refer to an act of bowing down upon one's face (bringing one's face to the ground). This is learned from the verse which says, "va'Tikod Bas Sheva Apayim Eretz" -- "And Bas Sheva bowed her face down upon the ground" (Melachim I 1:31). The Gemara continues and says that "Hishtachava'ah" refers to prostration while outstretching one's hands and feet on the ground. The Gemara proves this from Yakov Avinu who said to Yosef, "Ha'vo Na'vo... l'Hishtachavos Lecha Artzah" -- "Are we going to come... to bow down to you to the ground?" (Bereishis 37:10).
(a) The Mefarshim ask that if there are two places in the Torah from which a principle can be learned, the Gemara will always pick the first verse in the Torah to show that lesson. Why, then, does the Gemara here not teach the meaning of "Hishtachava'ah" from an earlier verse which mentions "Hishtachava'ah" as being done upon the ground (such as Bereishis 18:2, 24:52, or 33:3)?
(b) TOSFOS asks that we find places in the Torah where "Hishtachava'ah" refers to bowing down on one's face as well (such as in Bereishis 19:1). Why, then, does the Gemara say that "Kidah" refers specifically to bowing on the face, and not "Hishtachava'ah?"
(a) The RITVA quotes some who answer that the verse here regarding Yosef's dream does not mention the face at all, and thus it must mean that the bowing was done with the arms and legs upon the ground.
The Ritva rejects this answer, because there are also verses that discuss "Kidah" without mentioning that it is done on one's face, and thus we should learn from those verses that "Kidah" involves bowing with one's arms and legs. Therefore, the Ritva agrees with Tosfos' answer, that the Gemara had a tradition that "Kidah" means bowing on one's face, and that "Hishtachava'ah" can refer to both forms of bowing. The Gemara here simply is citing a verse which reflects that meaning, and it is not attempting to derive its definition from the verse.
(b) The MINCHAS CHINUCH (28:2), RAV ELAZAR MOSHE HA'LEVI HOROWITZ, and others answer the second question as follows. It is possible that Lot just happened to do "Hishtachava'ah" in such a manner (upon his face), but that does not mean that "Hishtachava'ah" is always done like that. The Gemara proves its description of "Hishtachava'ah" from Yosef, because Yosef saw in his dream that his family would do "Hishtachava'ah" to him. His father chastised him and said, "Are we going to come... to bow down to you to the ground?" If the normal definition of "Hishtachava'ah" is just to bow down, then why would Yakov accuse Yosef of saying that they would all bow down on the ground? He never said that! It must be that the normal manner of "Hishtachava'ah" is to bow down, with one's arms and legs outstretched, on the ground. (Y. MONTROSE)