Sunday, March 14, 2010

Exodus 26:33 - The Clasps and Partitioning of the Tent of The Tabernacle - Part 6

Before I move on to the next verse of the description, I would like to provide you with some traditional explanations of the position of the Clasps, as well as to point out onto the problems that such explanations create.

First of all, most traditional comentators assume that the Veil(the Parochet) would hang under the golden clasps of the first covering. This assumption is obviously incorrect, but i think it would be interesting to see would it would look like anyway:

Here it is - the golden clasps are directly under the Vail...

As you can see, only some of the clasps are visible due to the pillars. In fact, the clasps might not have been visible at all in such arrangement, since the covering would wrap around the clasps due to its softness and curvature.

I'm not showing the other possible, but absolutely improbable scenario, where the Vail would hang in front of the pillars, as such an arrangement is even less concievable than the one shown above.

Having said that, let's take a look at what traditional sources have to say about the position of the clasps:

Here is a couple of exerpts from the article by Rabbi D. Kramer, published in Toras Aish newsletter Vayakhel 5768 Volume XV Number 25:

But what about the top (thickness) of the front pillars? If both extra cubits hung down in front, obviously the cubit covering the top of those pillars was not "extra," but the same as the lower covering. Again, Rashi is consistant with the Beraisa's opinion that the lower covering also covered the top of the front pillars.

It should be pointed out, though, that Rashi is not consistant with everything in the Beraisa, as the Beraisa (12) has the brass clasps that connected the two (unequal) halves of the second layer precisely 10 cubits from the rear wall and directly over the "paroches," meaning that only 9 cubits of the rear wall were covered (whereas Rashi had all 10 covered).

As a matter of fact, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, in his comments on the Beraisa, says that the Beraisa understands the verse placing the "paroches"under the clasps as referring to the brass clasps of the second layer, not the gold clasps of the lower layer.
The most widely discussed explanation of how the Beraisa can be consistent with the Torah's requirement that the clasps be above the "paroches" (see Chizkuni) is that the pillars that the "paroches" was hung on were not within the 10 cubits of the "Kodesh Hakadshim," but right after them.

Since they were also a cubit thick, if the "paroches" was hung on the eastern side of the pillars, it would be 11 cubits from the western wall, and directly under the clasps. This raises other issues, such as taking a cubit away from the eastern portion of the Mishkan, leaving only 19 cubits instead of 20.
The Mizrachi therefore suggests that the curtain at the Mishkan's opening was also hung on the outside (eastern) side of the front pillars, so that if we include the thickness of those pillars (meaning the space between the pillars), there are 20 cubits. Even though the thickness of the pillars that the "paroches"was hung on is not included in the space of the "Kodesh Hakadashim" (so that it is only 10 cubits long), the space of the front pillars would be.

This inconsistency led the Maharal (and others) to reject this approach; others are okay with the area of the pillars of the "paroches" being considered "closed" ("sasum") and not counted as either part of the "Kodesh" or of the "Kodesh Hakadashim" even if the area of the front pillars are "open" and part of the Mishkan.

The Malbim (26:6) says that this would be consistent with Rabbi Yosi's opinion in the Talmud (Yoma 51b) regarding the status of the cubit that divided the two parts of the Temple; it would also be consistent with Rabbi Yosi's opinion in the Beraisa d'Meleches Hamishkan (1:1) that the Mishkan was 31 cubits long, not just 30.
You might want to read the full article right here, as it discusses the problems with traditional interpretations in much more detail.

Here are a few excerpts from another article by the same author (Rabbi D. Kramer) published in Toras Aish newsletter Pekudei 5768 Volume XV Number 26:

The Paroches was situated below the clasps that connected the two parts of the Mishkan's covering (26:33). It was 10 cubits tall (see Rashi on 26:31), the same height as the interior of the Mishkan (see Rashi on 26:16), meaning it reached the ceiling.
However, the Talmud (99a) is among the numerous sources that tell us that "the clasps gave the appearance of the stars in the sky." But how could the clasps be visible in order to give such an appearance if they were directly over the "paroches," which went all the way up to the ceiling? 
The Chizkuni (26:5) says that the 50 loops through which clasps went took up 3.5 of the 28 cubits of the width of the lowest covering, making the part of the clasp that fit into each loop either slightly more than a third of a tefach (if there are 5 tefachim/cubit) or slightly more than 4 tenths of a tefach (if there are 6 tefachim/cubit).
With the Malbim's assertion (26:4-5) that the clasps were "on" one of the edges of the covering while being "at the edge" of the other, if the clasps started from the eastern edge, we can count both ends of the clasp (the part that went through the loops of the eastern part and the part that went through the loops of the eastern part) as well as the stem of the clasp that connected it's two fasteners, putting the edge of the Paroches almost another tefach closer to the edge of the clasps.
You can read the full article here.

As you can see, even if we were to assume that the Vail hung below the golden clasps, it would create other irreconcilable difficulties with the positioning of the coverings and the other set of clasps.

However, if the Vail hung under the Bronze(copper) Clasps of the Second Covering, then we have all parts of the Tent of the Mishkan fitting nicely.

Here is how the Golden Clasps looked like:

And here is another view of the Clasps(not the best rendering but still...)

Here are couple of reasons for you to consider, as to why the Vail hung under the Bronze Clasps of the Second Covering:

Exodus 26:33

33 And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy.

33 ‏וְנָתַתָּ֣ה אֶת־הַפָּרֹכֶת֮ תַּ֣חַת הַקְּרָסִים֒ וְהֵבֵאתָ֥ שָׁ֙מָּה֙ מִבֵּ֣ית לַפָּרֹ֔כֶת אֵ֖ת אֲר֣וֹן הָעֵד֑וּת וְהִבְדִּילָ֤ה הַפָּרֹ֙כֶת֙ לָכֶ֔ם בֵּ֣ין הַקֹּ֔דֶשׁ וּבֵ֖ין קֹ֥דֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִֽׁים׃
1) Notice the wording that is used to define the Clasps - "הקרסים", even "אֶת הַפָּרֹכֶת֮". The only other place where the root "קרס" is used in such a form, is Exodus 26:11, the very verse that speaks about the Bronze Clasps! In the entire Tanach such form of this root is used ONLY in these two verses.

On the other hand, the Golden Clasps of the First Covering are defined by the form "בקרסים". (see Exodus 26:6 and Exodus 36:13). Both sets of Clasps are being referred to by the description as "קרסיו". (see Exodus 35:11; Exodus 39:33)

2) There was also the difference between the arrangement of the loops on each of the Coverings of the Mishkan.

The First Covering had the loops aranged like this, so as not to allow any gap between the halves of the covering(i.e as the buttons on a shirt)

On the other hand, the loops of the Second Covering were arranged like this, allowing a gap between the halves of the covering(i.e like shoelaces loops of the shoes):

Therefore, it is clear that the Vail could not have hung below the golden clasps of the first covering, since the Clasps would NOT be located exactly under the Vail, regardless of the position of the Coverings.

3) The Verse explicitly state, that it is the Vail that were to divide(separate) the inner space of the Mishkan into two parts. The common assumption that it was the covering and/or its clasps is clearly incorrect, even if this statement was made by inference.

4) Traditional sources implicitly mention that it were indeed the Bronze Clasps of the Second Covering (see the quoted articles above)

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