Monday, October 23, 2006

Daf Yomi - Sukkah 51 - Bimah in the Center

The Gemora states that in this magnificent Beis hakneses in Alexandria, the bimmah was located in the middle of the Beis Hakneses and the gabbai would stand there and wave a flag when it was time for the congregation to respond with saying amen. (There is a big halachic discussion regarding answering amen when the blessing was not heard and also answering amen some time after the chazan finished reciting the brocha. We might have time to post on these issues. If anyone has any information for us on this topic (or any topic for that matter), we would greatly appreciate it if you sent it to us. Thank you.)

The Rambam in Hilchos Tefillah (11:3)rules that the bimah should be in the center of the shul in order for the congregation to be able to hear the chazan and the Rav (what a concept!).

The Kesef Mishna writes that perhaps we can judge favorably those Shuls that have the bimah in the back by saying that nowadays that the Shuls are small in comparison with those from previous generations, it is not necessary to have the bimah in the center.

The Chasam Sofer proves from our Gemora not like this. In Alexandria, the bimah was in the middle of the Beis Hakneses even though the chazan was not heard anyways.

Perhaps we can answer this question by saying that the bimah should be in the center to give the opportunity for the most possible people to hear. In Alexandria, it was so large that not everyone was able to hear, but that was their intention.

The Chasam Sofer states that the reason for the bimah in the center is because the bimah is regarded as the mizbeach since we read the parshiyos of the korbanos there. This is why we circle the bimah with the lulav and esrog. The inside mizbeach was located between the menorah and the shulchan. Therefore the Chasam Sofer rules that any size Shul must always have the bimah in the center.


Dan Rabinowitz said...

the Huntington Rambam, which is signed by the Rambam, does not contain the line that the bimah must be in the center

Avromi said...

Are you sure? The regular Rambam's have it. What does that one say in halacha gimmel?

Avromi said...

I found this on the website of the Mishna Torah Project.

As we compiled this edition, we also had before as a facsimile of the Oxford Huntington 80 manuscript, which is an excellent manuscript version of the books of Mada and Ahava (Science and Love) and bears the authorization of the Rambam himself at the end of the book of Ahava, before the arrangement of the prayers, in his own sacred handwriting: "proofed from my book, I Moshe son of Rabbi Mimon of blessed memory". It seems that this manuscript hand been copied from a second or third copy, and was brought for proofing and comparison with the Rambam’s book, yet this book is certainly unlike the book that was "in the Azara of the Temple" and is not bereft of all errors (see the Rabbi Shilat's edition). The virtue of this edition is in its proofing remarks, most of which were done by passing a line above the words or over the words themselves in order to cross them out (2) but who can tell which proofreading comment was carried out as a comparison and which was added years later?! Thus, refraining from deciding one way or another, until we find the appropriate version through perusal and study of each proofing comment, we have left our version in its original state, and directly beside it, we have recorded the Oxford manuscript version. It should be noted that a great many of the corrections and proofing comments carried out in the Oxford manuscript are already part of the Yemenite manuscripts. In such cases, I made no comment, nor have I made any comment on version changes that do not constitute a semantic change.

Avromi said...

I checked the Kapach Rambam and he has the Rambam the way we quoted it that the bimah should be in the center. In a footnote, he cites a different version that said 'bimah b'beis hakneses b'emtza habayis'.

Dan sent me a copy of the Huntington text of the Rambam which seems to have the words 'b'emtza habayis' crossed out and on top of it, it's written 'b'beis hakneses'.

Sruly said...

On a different note, aren't the korbanos on the outside mizbeach - why does chasam Sofer compare bimah to inside mizbeach?

Avromi said...

Sruly, good point - I actually was wondering a different question. In the B'H they circled the outside mizbeach not the inside?

This question I found in a teshuvos sefer Zecher Yehosef and he splits up the C"S. The bimah is in the center akin to the mizbeach hapnimi and the reason we circle the bimah is similar to the way they circled the outside mizbeach.

It also seems from different sources that the reform movement in the times of the C"S were not happy with this decision. They asked questions in the press regarding that teshuva.

Dan said...

nice, that gets it all. In the introduction to the facismile edition Dr. R. Havlin disucsses the cross outs in greater deapth. Addtionally, I specifically asked him about this one and he said he thinks it is from the Rambam himself

ben said...

The Torani search program has in regular Rambam edition and in Yemenite edition
ומעמידין בימה באמצע הבית כדי