כ״ב במרחשון ה׳תשע״ו (November 4, 2015)

Sota 9a-b: Their Enemies Did Not Rule Over Their Achievements

Rabbi Hinnana bar Pappa taught that Tehillim 33:1 can be understood as offering praise to two people who built sanctuaries for God that were never destroyed by their enemies. Those two people are King David and Moshe.

The prooftext with regard to King David’s edifice is found in Megillat Eikha (2:9), which describes the gates of the Beit HaMikdash as being buried in the ground, but not destroyed. The sanctuary built by Moshe was the mishkan, about which there was a tradition that when the first Temple was built, the mishkan was taken down and hidden away. According to Rav Ḥisda, it was put into tunnels under the Temple.

Rashi suggests that the gates built by King David were not the gates of the Temple, but rather were the gates to David’s palace, since he did not build the first Beit HaMikdash. The Maharsha, however, argues that the reference is to the gates of the Temple and that King David is credited with having built them since he prepared much of the material for the erection of the Beit HaMikdash prior to his death. Furthermore, had a tradition that the gates opened only in King David’s merit; since they were attributed to him, they were not destroyed or taken into captivity, as was the case for the rest of the Temple.

Rav Ḥisda’s reference to the tunnels under the Temple relates to an array of caves, tunnels and secret rooms that exist in the Temple Mount. We are familiar with many such subterranean areas that were used during Second Temple times, like the tunnel that allowed kohanim to access the Shilo’ah spring where they could purify themselves before performing the priestly service in the Temple. Since there was limited access to the Temple grounds themselves, many of these places remained secret, and the particular place where the mishkan was hidden was apparently unknown.

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