Thursday, March 17, 2011

Two new interesting articles about the Mercy Seat and the Menorah

Two new interesting articles had appeared on the web site of the Bar-Ilan University's Parashat Hashavua Study Center.

The first article called "The Weight of the Ark Cover" by Uri Cohen is related to parashat pekudei, and dealing with the weight and possible construction of the Mercy Seat of the Ark of The Covenant. This article is not as accurate as the one by Elihu Schatz, but it does provide an interesting opinion on the matter. Here is a short excerpt:
"How can this tradition be reconciled with the Talmudic tradition that the ark cover was one span thick? What did Ibn Ezra have in mind when he added that it was "both long and wide"?

The solution appears to be in a similar observation made by Tashbetz, who remarked that it was not logical to claim that the thickness of the ark cover was one span, "since the thickness was only at the edges, while all of the ark cover was thin." In other words, the ark cover was in the shape of an inverted box, hollow, with its opening facing down, and only along the sides was it one span high (see sketch below). According to this view, it could have weighed no more than one talent, or 42 kilograms, and it could have been one span thick, but only along the edges, while the rest of it was thin."
The second article called "On the Making of the Menorah" by David Shneur is related to parashat vayakhel, and dealing with the possible shape of the Menorah. Here is the short excerpt:
"The late Prof. Elazar Touitou has repeatedly stressed the importance of being aware of the historical setting for our understanding of exegetical works.  Several of his articles on this subject deal with the historical setting of Rashbam's times and of others in Rashi's era.  Prof. Abraham Grossman mentions Touitou's findings in his articles and books on Rashi and stresses the importance of studying Rashi's commentary in the light of the momentous changes taking place among the Jews and gentiles of that era:  "One cannot fully appreciate the work of men of letters and public leaders without being aware of the social and cultural setting of their times."

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