By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman
Yevamos 82 – “This is My Menucha Forever and Ever”
At the crux of the discussion in today’s daf is the issue of whether or not the original sanctification of Eretz Yisrael in the time of Ezra’s aliyah took effect for all time or only for that time period. The difference, of course, plays out in terms of the status of terumos and maasros nowadays. If the kedusha remains, tithing is d’oraysah, and if not it is only m’drabbanan.
Interestingly enough, Tosafos – basing himself on numerous sugyos across Shas – proves that, even according to the opinion that the original kedusha was cancelled upon the destruction of the Beis Ha’Mikdash and the galus, it is only the kedusha that effects the status of terumos and maasros that was affected. However, the kedusha of the actual area of Yerushalayim and the Beis Ha’Mikdash remains. This affects halachos such as the prohibition to bring a korban outside of the Beis Ha’Mikdash (bamos), and the theoretical possibility of bringing a korban on Har Ha’Bayis and eating kodashim within the prescribed area even though there is no structure there (Megillah 10a).
Tosafos proffers three sources for this distinction. The first is the derasha that the Gemara in Megillah makes regarding the status of walled cities even though the wall is currently non-existent. The pasuk says asher lo choma, and since lo -although it is written with a vav – according to the reading can mean “no” (lo with an alef), the Gemara concludes there that even though there is currently no wall, as long as it had a wall (lo with a vav) during the time of Yehoshua, that suffices to give it walled-city status even nowadays.
The second source Tosafos advances has its roots in a Gemara in Rosh Ha’Shana (12b) that says nachala – inheritance – does not have any interruption; it continues forever. Therefore, explains Tosafos, since the aforementioned Gemara in Megillah says that the word nachala in the pasuk “for you have not yet come to the menucha and nachala” is referring to Yerushalayim, this clearly indicates that the elemental kedusha continues forever without interruption.
Finally, Tosafos draws our attention to a pasuk in Tehillim (132:14) that says “This is My menucha forever and ever.” Obviously, the expression “forever and ever” proves that some form of kedusha remains no matter what.
This third proof is difficult, at least at first, to understand. The whole pasuk reads, “This is My menucha forever and ever, here will I dwell, for I have desired it.” According to the way Tosafos explains the pasuk, the implication emerges that Hashem dwells, as it were, in Yerushalayim and the Makom Ha’Mikdash for all eternity, even when the Beis Ha’Mikdash and the walls of Yerushalayim are in complete ruin. However, the Gemara in Rosh Ha’Shana (31a) says that the Shechina was exiled and banished from the Beis Ha’Mikdash and Yerushalayim in ten stages. First it left the Kapores to the Kruv, from there to the threshold of the Beis Ha’Mikdash, from there to the courtyard, from there to the Mizbeiach, from there to the roof, from there to the wall, from there to the city, from the city to the mountain, from the mountain to the dessert, and finally from there it went up to Shamayim.
This is not news. We all know that galus ha’Shechina is a major, focal point of the pain and suffering of the galus in which we live. This being the case, how can Tosafos say that the pasuk “This is My menucha forever and ever” proves that the kedusha of the location of the Beis Ha’Mikdash and Yerushalayim remains forever, seeing that in the context of the pasuk that would indicate that the Shechina dwells there for all eternity without interruption?
The truth is that this kashya could already be asked based on the well-known Medrash (Shemos Rabbah 2:2) that “the Shechina never leaves the Kosel Ha’Maaravi.” In fact, if you take a look at the Medrash inside, it seems to be a machlokes. That well-known line is attributed there to Rabi Acha. However, the Medrash starts off by quoting the opinion of Rav Shmuel bar Nachman who says, “Before the Beis Ha’Mikdash was destroyed, the Shechina dwelled within it…and once it was destroyed, the Shechina left and went up to Shamayim.”
A likely resolution to this whole conundrum is the final opinion that the Medrash brings there: “Said Rabi Yanai, even though His Shechina is in Shamayim, His eyes do see and His eyelids will discern human beings…even though it looks as though He has removed his Shechina from the Beis Ha’Mikdash [nevertheless] His eyes see and His eyelids discern people.”
What we can conclude from this is that both opinions are true and there was not necessarily any argument between them. Rather, each opinion was but addressing a different facet of the issue.
From the way Rabi Yanai says “it looks as though He has removed his Shechina from the Beis Ha’Mikdash,” the implication is clear that in essence the Shechina is still there. What emerges, then, from the continuation of Rabi Yanai’s statement, “His eyes see and His eyelids discern,” is that the primary manifestation of hashraas ha’Shechina is Hashgacha pratis. Hashem dwelling amongst us means that He sees everything we do. He takes account of every detail. He is guiding every single step and stage. He is totally and completely involved with every single facet of our individual and communal life. There is a very intimate relationship.
Histalkus, the removal of the Shechina, means that this endearing, intimate Hashgacha is no longer apparent. Things and events can come across as haphazard and rudderless. It can be very difficult to see Hashem’s involvement in our lives. Nevertheless, this is only a matter of appearances. Don’t misunderstand, the appearances are incredibly significant. The terrible suffering and pain that exists as a result of hester panim is very real, both for us and kavayachol for Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu.
At the same time, though, it is imperative that we be aware that the essential reality of Hashem constantly watching over and taking care of us has not changed. Although we cannot necessarily see, He sees. With the same infinite scope and clarity as always.
The Sheim Mi’Shmuel elaborates on this and explains that just as the Torah is eternal and can never be changed; so too are Klal Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael, and the Beis Ha’Mikdash all identified as the nachala of Hashem. And a nachala is without hefsek; it continues forever.
Rabbi Yehoshua Berman serves as the Rosh Kollel of Kollel Reshet HaDaf in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel. In addition to having authored Reflections on the Parsha, Rabbi Berman regularly delivers shiurim on Halacha and Hashkafa, writes comprehensive chazara questions for the advanced Daf Yomi learner, and weekly words of inspiration from the Parsha. Rabbi Berman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.