Sh’vuos 16 – Story on the Daf – Walled City


The Gemora states that the terms Mishkan and Mikdash are interchangeable. One must wonder if the terms are interchangeable, why Scripture would not just employ one term, either always using the term Mishkan or always using the term Mikdash. An answer to this puzzle can be found with a story that occurred many years ago.

Rabbi Stein, an executive director of a well-known Yeshiva, rand the doorbell one evening at the Miller’s home. Mr. Miller invited Rabbi Stein inside to partake of supper with Mr. Miller’s family. Rabbi Stein began apologizing for interrupting the family, when Mr. Miller said, “Please, I am certain you are here for an important reason. How can I be of help to you?”

Rabbi Stein explained that the yeshiva was in desperate need of funds, so Mr. Miller sent his son to bring his checkbook. After writing out a very generous check to the Yeshiva and handing it to Rabbi Stein, Rabbi Stein thanked Mr. Miller and rose to leave. “I would like to apologize again for coming at such an inconvenient time,” Rabbi Stein said. “The opposite is true,” declared Mr. Miller. “Let me share with you something.

Reb Yitzchak Hutner of Yeshivas Chaim Berlin calls me from time to time asking for financial assistance for his Yeshiva. When Rav Hutner once called me while I was eating supper, I told Rav Hutner the following: I am very organized in my method of giving tzedakah. I set aside ten percent of my income and I distribute the funds systematically. I would probably give the Rosh HaYeshiva a donation even without the Rosh HaYeshiva calling me, but I actually appreciate the call. I would never interrupt my supper to pay a utility bill, but I will interrupt my supper to give tzedakah, because I feel that this is something that is every important for my children to witness. Rabi Stein, I must thank you too for ringing my doorbell as we were about to commence our supper. You could not have arrived at a better time.”

This story teaches us that there is a Mikdash, a shul, a yeshiva, or any worthy Jewish organization, but there is also a Mishkan, from the generosity and beauty of performing the mitzvah of tzedakah, that allows the Divine Presence to reside in the homes of those who support the Torah.

Sent out of a Walled City

The Gemora mentions that there is a special sanctity regarding cities in Eretz Yisroel that were surrounded by a wall in the times of Yehoshua. Rashi writes some of these halachos: One who sells a house inside a walled city has one year to redeem the house, but if he chooses not to redeem the house, it becomes the property of the buyer permanently; sending a metzora outside the city; and that the open space (1,000 cubits) surrounding the city should be left uncultivated.

Why does a Metzora need to leave a city that is surrounded by a wall, but may otherwise remain in all other cities–as long as they are unwalled?  The Be’er Yosef provides a fascinating p’shat based on the Chazal in Erachin (15b) which states that Hashem provided for the tongue two protections — two walls: one of flesh–the lips, and one of bone–the teeth.  A metzora breached his very own walls of protection by speaking lashon hora; he cannot therefore remain in a city protected by a wall!

Hakhel Note:  An average city has only one wall–yet Hashem in his benevolence gives us a truly enhanced fortification–a dual safeguard!  How can a person be so imprudent, so unwise, so as to take down not only one wall made for his own protection–but two!  We will add one other point, as well.  One of the most famous Metzora scenes in Tanach is that of Gechazi and his sons outside the city of Shomron (the Haftorah for Parshas Metzora)–perhaps a lesson to us that the sin of Lashon Hora is easily spread within or among a family(Miriam and Aharon speaking regarding Moshe Rabbeinu provides a similar lesson)–and this may be why it is easier to succeed at taking down the ‘double wall’–it is an unfortunate and misguided team effort, and one family member encourages the next in what to the casual observer may otherwise be described as a self-defeating struggle.  If one sees a weakness in his family–or in a particular family member (even if that family member is himself) — he should bolster the fortifications–so that the security of the entire family is not breached–and the lips and tongue can take their noble places in protecting home, life and family!