Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Book of Vayikra is not about Mishkan

I just wanted to point out something which is very obvious, but often overlooked. The book of Vayikra has nothing to do with the Mishkan!

The Mishkan is described and built in the last 5 parshiyot of Shemot. Shemot ends with the Shechina descending on the Mishkan.

However, in the last few verses of Shemot there is already some confusion as to whether it is actually a Mishkan (Tabernacle) or an Ohel Mo'ed (Tent of Meeting):

וַיְכַס הֶעָנָן, אֶת-אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד; וּכְבוֹד יְהוָה, מָלֵא אֶת-הַמִּשְׁכָּן. וְלֹא-יָכֹל מֹשֶׁה, לָבוֹא אֶל-אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד--כִּי-שָׁכַן עָלָיו, הֶעָנָן; וּכְבוֹד ה', מָלֵא אֶת-הַמִּשְׁכָּן.
וּבְהֵעָלוֹת הֶעָנָן מֵעַל הַמִּשְׁכָּן, יִסְעוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּכֹל, מַסְעֵיהֶם.
וְאִם-לֹא יֵעָלֶה, הֶעָנָן--וְלֹא יִסְעוּ, עַד-יוֹם הֵעָלֹתוֹ. כִּי עֲנַן יְהוָה עַל-הַמִּשְׁכָּן, יוֹמָם, וְאֵשׁ, תִּהְיֶה לַיְלָה בּוֹ--לְעֵינֵי כָל-בֵּית-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּכָל-מַסְעֵיהֶם.

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of G-d filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.-- And whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward, throughout all their journeys. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.

(All text and translations from Mechon-Mamre)

'Tent of Meeting' is not a very good translation, because Mo'ed does not mean 'meeting'. It is a word used to mean 'appointed time' and also 'festival'. But I don't have a better translation in this context.

The book of Vayikra is entirely about the Ohel Mo'ed and nothing to do with Mishkan. In fact, the word 'Mishkan' only appears four times in the entire book of Vayikra:

Vayikra 8:10
וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה אֶת-שֶׁמֶן הַמִּשְׁחָה, וַיִּמְשַׁח אֶת-הַמִּשְׁכָּן וְאֶת-כָּל-אֲשֶׁר-בּוֹ; וַיְקַדֵּשׁ, אֹתָם.

And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them.

Vayikra 15:31
וְהִזַּרְתֶּם אֶת-בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, מִטֻּמְאָתָם; וְלֹא יָמֻתוּ בְּטֻמְאָתָם, בְּטַמְּאָם אֶת-מִשְׁכָּנִי אֲשֶׁר בְּתוֹכָם.

Thus shall ye separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness; that they die not in their uncleanness, when they defile My tabernacle that is in the midst of them.

Vayikra 17:4
אִישׁ אִישׁ, מִבֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁחַט שׁוֹר אוֹ-כֶשֶׂב אוֹ-עֵז, בַּמַּחֲנֶה; אוֹ אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁחַט, מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה. וְאֶל-פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, לֹא הֱבִיאוֹ, לְהַקְרִיב קָרְבָּן לַה', לִפְנֵי מִשְׁכַּן ה'--דָּם יֵחָשֵׁב לָאִישׁ הַהוּא, דָּם שָׁפָךְ, וְנִכְרַת הָאִישׁ הַהוּא, מִקֶּרֶב עַמּוֹ.

What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it without the camp, and hath not brought it unto the door of the tent of meeting, to present it as an offering unto G-d before the tabernacle of G-d, blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people.

Vayikra 26:11
וְנָתַתִּי מִשְׁכָּנִי, בְּתוֹכְכֶם; וְלֹא-תִגְעַל נַפְשִׁי, אֶתְכֶם.

And I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you.

Of these four, the last one (26:11) is clearly not referring to the Tabernacle that they had in the desert, but to the Beit HaMikdash which would eventually stand in Yerushalayim (as Rashi explains on the spot).

I'm not sure why the Torah uses that word the other three times - room for further research.

I'm not entirely sure what the difference is between Mishkan and Ohel Mo'ed, but it seems to me that Mishkan is more about G-d's Shechina (unilaterally), whereas Mo'ed is a meeting of humanity and G-d together. This is perhaps why in Parshat Emor the festivals are described as 'Mo'adim' rather than as Chagim (which would imply people making pilgrimage to Yerushalayim - also unilateral (though the other way), whereas Mo'ed seems to me to imply a meeting of people with G-d together.

(PS. I know that Onkelos and Targum Yonatan translate 'Ohel Mo'ed' as ''Mashkan Zimana' which seems to imply that it is the same thing (or a variation thereof) as the Mishkan. But nevertheless, I think the Torah can be studied qua Torah, and we can worry about why the targumim used the words they did in a separate discussion - any ideas anyone?)

1 comment:

  1. There was definitely an Ohel Mo'eid that Moshe went to that was outside the machaneh, and thus couldn't have been the Mishqan which was in the middle.

    Shemos 33:7:
    וּמֹשֶׁה֩ יִקַּ֨ח אֶת־הָאֹ֜הֶל וְנָֽטָה־ל֣וֹ׀ מִח֣וּץ לַֽמַּחֲנֶ֗ה הַרְחֵק֙ מִן־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וְקָ֥רָא ל֖וֹ אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וְהָיָה֙ כָּל־מְבַקֵּ֣שׁ ה יֵצֵא֙ אֶל־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד אֲשֶׁ֖ר מִח֥וּץ לַֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃

    This is right after the eigel, before the Mishkan is built. So it seems the concept of Ohel Mo'eid as the place of revelation pre-existed and then entered the Mishkan once it was consecrated. See Ramban ad loc.

    Bamidbar 7:89:
    וּבְבֹ֨א מֹשֶׁ֜ה אֶל־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵד֮ לְדַבֵּ֣ר אִתּוֹ֒ וַיִּשְׁמַ֨ע אֶת־הַקּ֜וֹל מִדַּבֵּ֣ר אֵלָ֗יו מֵעַ֤ל הַכַּפֹּ֙רֶת֙ אֲשֶׁר֙ עַל־אֲרֹ֣ן הָעֵדֻ֔ת מִבֵּ֖ין שְׁנֵ֣י הַכְּרֻבִ֑ים וַיְדַבֵּ֖ר אֵלָֽיו׃

    (BTW, those are links to WikiSource, which has pages that link to Rashi, Ramban, occasional medrashim... I therefore prefer it to Mechon-Mamre. BTW, it even has a complete Nefesh haChaim! A sire worth bookmarking.)