by Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
The Torah tells us in Devarim 22:8 that when you build a new home you should make a “maakeh,” a special gate, for your roof so that you should not spill any blood in your house as one may fall from the roof. The Sifri says that it is mashma from the posuk that only a roof is chayev; how do I know that a pit, cistern or reservoir also needs a gate? The answer is that the posuk ends off with the phrase, “no blood should be spilled in your home.” If so, why does the Torah mention the word “gag-” roof? It comes to teach us that the ramp of the mizbeach and the heichal and ulam were not required to be fenced in.
The Mefaresh in the Sifri explains that the heichal of the Bais Hamikdash had a maakeh of three amos as seen in Middos 4:6. The Rambam in Bais Habechira Ch 4 tells us the description of the Bais Hamikdash and does not tell us about a maakeh regarding the ramp of the Mizbeach or in the ulam. In Halacha 3 he does mention that the heichal had a maakeh of three amos.
The question on the Sifri is as follows. Since we know that a Bais Hakneses and or a Bais Hamedrash are exempt from maakeh as they are not considered a house for the purpose of a “dirah” as we see in Chulin 137a and would therefore exclude the heichel as a place of dwelling as well. In addition, the heichal is considered the house of Hashem and not a personal home, so we darshen lecha velo shel govoha. What was the purpose of having three amos for a maakeh if it is sufficient to just have ten tefachim which is eight tefachim less than three amos?
The Netziv says that based on our Bavli that exempts a Bais Hamedrash or Bais Hakneses, it would stand to reason that the Bais Hamikdash definitely does not require a maakeh. Based on this premise, the Netziv says that we see from the Sifri there was a maakeh in the Bais Hamikdash. This would explain the Sifri’s argument on the Bavli and would require a Bais Hakneses or a Bais Medrash to have a maakeh. The reason there was a maakeh in the Bais Hamikdosh according to the Bavli was not there to protect people from falling, but more like a beautiful design in the architecture of the Bais Hamikdash. That is the reason it was higher than the regular maakeh, to show it as a beautiful design in the building itself.
The Rogotchover in Tzofnas Paneach in Devarim says that the chiyuv of making a maakeh exists as soon as the building is finished. When the BaisHamikdah was finished, before it was even used, it had a din of chol and not kodesh, therefore there was a chiyuv of maakeh. Reb Chaim Kanievsky asks in Derech Emunah that since there was no intent to use the roof at all, there would seem to be no chiyuv to build a maakeh. Reb Chaim explains that it was mechuyav with a maakeh since they ate korbanos in the heichal. It was considered a bais dirah despite the fact that they did not use the roof. However, a Bais Hakneses and a Bais Hamedrash, which is not a bais dirah at all, would not be required to have a maakeh. Hence, we see a difference between the Bais Hamikdash and Bais Hakneses. This line of reasoning argues with the above Netziv.
We see from here how important it is to keep your property safe! Make sure your house is safe both physically and spiritually!
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