Sunday, February 18, 2007

Daf Yomi - Megillah 11 - LOCATION OF THE ARON

Rabbi Levi also said: This is a tradition that has been passed down from our ancestors that the place of the Aron (the Holy Ark in the Beis Hamikdosh) miraculously did not take up any space inside the Kodesh Hakodoshim (Holy of Holies). This can be proven from the following braisa: the Aron that Moshe made had ten amos (cubits) of space in each direction between it and the walls of the Kodesh Hakodoshim. However, the space of the Kodesh Hakodoshim itself was only twenty amos by twenty amos. It emerges that the place of the Aron did not take up any space.

The Rambam writes that the Aron was located on the west side of the Kodesh Hakodoshim. Some explain (Chasam Sofer, Chanukas Habayis) that this is because the Shechina resides towards the west of the Kodesh Hakodoshim. The Chanukas Habayis adds that this way there would be a greater miracle that the poles could reach the curtains in front of the Heichal. Rabbi Dovid Meyers in his sefer M’leches Hamishkan V’keilav (p. 453) cites the Ezras Kohanim who explains the Rambam as follows: The stone where the Aron was situated on top of was originally in the west of the Kodesh Hakodoshim. After the Aron was placed on top of the stone, a miracle occurred and the Aron was precisely in the center. When the Aron was hidden, the miracle was removed and the stone was located on the west side.

The Ritzva (cited in Tosfos, Bava Basra 25a) writes that the Aron was located on the east side of the Kodesh Hakodoshim. The Minchas Chinuch (95) explains: There were sometimes that the Aron and the Sefer Torah needed fixing and they would be required to enter the Kodesh Hakodoshim. If the Aron would be situated in the east, it would minimize the amount of steps that would be required to reach the Aron.

The commentators ask from our Gemora which explicitly states that the Aron was in the center of the Kodesh Hakodoshim. Minchas Chinuch (95) answers based on the Rashbam (B”B 25a) that the Aron was only in the center in respect to north and south; however, the Gemora is not discussing where the Aron was located in respect to east and west. This would be consistent with the Rashbam who writes later in Bava Basra (99a) that there were twenty amos from the Aron until the Heichal.

Rashi seemingly would not subscribe to this opinion since he states here that the Aron was ten amos away from the wall in all directions.