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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Pekudei. Why Couldn’t Dovid Hamelech Build the Beis Hamikdosh?

Moshe Rabbeinu, who sacrificed so much to lead his people to the Land of Israel, did not live to enter the land.  So too, David Hamelech, who so desired to build the Beis Hamikdash, was not able to see even the beginning of its construction. David himself notes this in his last testament to his son, Shlomo, as recorded in I Divrei Hayamim 22:7-8. He said that he very much desired to build the Beis Hamikdash, but Hashem did not allow him to do so.
ז וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִיד, לִשְׁלֹמֹה בנו (בְּנִי)--אֲנִי הָיָה עִם-לְבָבִי, לִבְנוֹת בַּיִת לְשֵׁם יְהוָה אֱלֹהָי. ח וַיְהִי עָלַי דְּבַר-יְהוָה, לֵאמֹר, דָּם לָרֹב שָׁפַכְתָּ, וּמִלְחָמוֹת גְּדֹלוֹת עָשִׂיתָ: לֹא-תִבְנֶה בַיִת, לִשְׁמִי--כִּי דָּמִים רַבִּים, שָׁפַכְתָּ אַרְצָה לְפָנָי.
David said to his son, Shlomo... I so desired to build a house for Hashem... but Hashem's words came to me, saying "You have spilled much blood, you have made great wars, you will not build a house in My Name, for much blood have you spilled to the earth before Me."

This is extremely vexing, especially when later, Hashem tells Shlomo that the hashra’as hashchina in the Mikdash he built was only in the zchus of Dovid. How can it be that the Hashra'as Hashechina is only because of David, but that David was not allowed to construct the vessel that held the Shechina? David Hamelech was the mechaber of tehillim, who didn’t touch Shaul in the cave, and whatever he did in battle he did because he was an eved Hashem; he was commanded to defend the Jewish People and conquer Eretz Yisrael, and if he didn’t, it would have brought terrible disaster; Jews would die and Eretz Yisrael would not have been conquered. How on earth can it be that this was the reason he was not zocheh to build the Beis Hamikdash?

Harav Shimon Krasner's Nachlas Shimon, Shmuel II volume I Siman 25:27 discusses this topic.
He brings:
  • the Ramban in Korach 16:21 that Dovid was machzik middas hadin, and was not the right one for a Beis Rachamim; 
  • the Rambam in Shmoneh Prokim that says that although it was only used against our enemies, the middah of achzorius passels in binyon hamikdosh. This is similar to the Ramban, but attributing 'achzorius' to Dovid seems harsh. Maybe this is an Ibn Tibbon artifact. 
  • the Aruch Hashulchon in the beginning of Hilchos Beis Habechira that since Dovid’s time was one of war, it was not the time of “menuchah” (Ki lo basem ahd ahta ehl hamenucha) that the possuk said was a condition precedent for building the Beis Hamikdosh; 
  • the Radak in Divrei Hayomim that says Uriah's killing was 'unfustified, and the expression "much blood" refers to that of the innocent and righteous goyisheh bystanders who were unintentional but inevitable victims of those wars– collateral damage. Killing a combatant is fine; but killing an unarmed bystander, even a member of the aggressor nation, is not. It may be necessary, but it is still a necessary evil.

Then, the strangest of all, he quotes R’ Dessler in the Michtov Mei’eliahu.
The Michtov Mei’eliahu brings a Yalkut that says that Nosson told Dovid that all the blood he spilled was like korbonos before Hashem, and the problem was that if Dovid built the Beis Hamikdash, it could never be destroyed. So Dovid asked, so good, adderabbeh, let it stand forever! Nosson answered that if it were to be indestructible, there would be no object upon which Hashem could pour out his wrath, and Klal Yisroel would have not safety valve of “ahl ho’eitzim v’ahl ho’avonim.”
Rav Dessler gives a moshol: if a person has a kli that is hekdesh and is not treating it properly, you can solve the problem by elimnating one of the two things. Either you can take away the kli, or you can take away the person. If Dovid had built the Bayis, taking away the Bayis would not have been an option.

This Yalkut does indeed exist.Shmuel II remez 145:
האתה תבנה לי בית וכתיב לא תבנה בית לשמי כי דמים רבים שפכת כיון ששמע דוד כך נתיירא אמר הרי נפסלתי מלבנוות בית המקדש. א"ר יהודה בר' אלעאי אמר לו הקב"ה דוד אל תירא חייך כי הם לפני כצבי וכאיל לכך נאמר שפכת ארצה ואין ארצה אלא צבי ואיל שנאמר על הארץ תשפכנו כמים. ד"א חייך הם לפני כקרבנות דכתיב כי דמים רבים שפכת לפני ואין לפני אלא קרבן שנאמר ושחט את בן הבקר לפני ה'. אמר לו ואם כן למה איני בונה אותו, אמר לו הקב"ה שאם אתה בונה אותו הוא קיים ואינו חרב, אמרו לו והרי יפה א"ל הקב"ה גלוי וצפוי לפני שהם עתידים לחטוא ואני מפיג חמתי בו ומחריבו והם נצולין שכן כתיב באהל בת ציון שפך כאש חמתו, אמר לו הקב"ה חייך הואיל וחשבת לבנותו אע"פ ששלמה בנך בונהו לשמך אני כותבו מזמור שיר חנוכת הבית לדוד. ר' הונא בשם ריב"ל אלף וחמש מאות אמה חפר דוד לעמוד על משתיתא של ארץ, דתניא ג' בתולות הם, בתולת אדם, בתולת קרקע, בתולת שקמה. בתולת אדם שלא נבעלה מימיה. בתולת שקמה כל שלא נקצצה מימיה, בתולת ארץ כל שלא נעבדה מימיה. רשב"ג אומר כל שאין בה חרס. כיון שחפר דוד אלף ות"ק אמה מצא שם חרס וכו' (כדכתיב לעיל):

I’m sorry to say that this kind of farkert-from-poshut-pshat-revisionism is very hard for me to accept. As I said, the passuk in Divrei Hayamim is hard to hear; but it does say that there was something about Dovid that made him unfit to build the Beis Hamikdash. To say that he was not unfit, but instead he was wonderfully fit, is just too much. I need to think about the reliability of the source Medrash the Yalkut brings. (There is a similar Medrash brought by the Divrei Dovid in Shemos 4:13, that Moshe Rabbeinu knew all the way back in Mitzrayim that he would most likely not be allowed into Eretz Yisroel, because if he were, there would be no pressure release valve of ahl ho’eitzim etc, and this would present an existential threat to the nation if they were to sin. This I understand. I even understand how this fits with Rashi in Devarim 33:8 that the 'sin' of Mei Meriva was a trivial and inconsequential event that was inflated into significance only as an excuse (I didn't make that up: Rashi says it was an "illah.") to keep Moshe out of Israel. But to re-read the passuk in Divrei Hayamim as if it were not a criticism, but instead a praise, does not make me happy at all.)

I said a completely speculative pshat: that if Dovid built it, it would be permanent precisely because it would have been imperfect. The imperfection would be the kiddush of charbicho heinafto, that it was built by a person who had spilled Human blood; not that doing so was a fault, just that it is an ugly and unfortunate thing. If the Bayis had been imperfect and kodosh, it would be impossible to destroy. It would have been mekadeish the gashmius to the extent that the gashmius would become indestructible. Its being subject to destruction was because it was perfect, and perfect things cannot be firmly fixed in an imperfect world. (I said this because the Luchos were destroyable, and they were kulo kodesh, so we see that kulo kodesh can be destroyed.) This advantage of this pshat is that it accepts Dovid's worthiness to build the Beis Hamikdash, while accepting as well that his military career was to some degree incompatible with building it; it fits with the Yalkut's idea that his would be indestructible, but it accepts that the words “domim rabbim shofochto” indicate a flaw.

Reb Milton Wakschlag (originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma) came to me the next day and said he had been thinking about the Yalkut, and although he agrees it’s farkert from the poshut pshat, it’s not farkert from the pashtus. In other words, the questions about the implication of unfitness on Dovid Hamelech’s part are so shver, that even though the Yalkut does not fit into the poshut pshat in the possuk in Divrei Hayomim, it is consistent with the pashtus of our perception of who and what Dovid was. (I sometimes think that his remark is an example of how an enjoyable well-turned phrase can be a trojan horse-- it makes you forget how illogical something is, like a spoonful of sugar with cod-liver oil.) He also fleshed out the idea of the Michtov Mei’eliahu: he said that if the Beis Hamikdosh were perfect, then when Klal Yisroel sinned, Hashem would say that they had a perfect source of kedusha and inspiration, and if they failed, it was without any excuse. But now that the Beis Hamikdosh lacked that degree of perfection, Hashem could say that it wasn’t 100% the fault of the Bnei Yisroel, and so He took out His anger on the imperfect tool of hashro’as hashchina and sent us into golus to start over again.

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