ג׳ באדר ב׳ ה׳תשע״א (March 9, 2011)

Zevahim 119a-b – Ramifications of a lost Ark

As we have learned, there were periods during biblical times when sacrifices were limited to a specific place (i.e. in the Tabernacle in the desert, when the Tabernacle was established in Shiloh and when the permanent Temple was built), but there were times when sacrifices could be brought on private altars, as well, like when the Tabernacle was standing in Nov and Givon.

 

The city of Nov became the resting place of the mishkan after Shiloh was destroyed at the time of Eli haKohen’s death (see Sefer Shmuel IChapter 4 and Sefer Yirmiyahu 7:12). Nov was destroyed by King Shaul at about the time of Shmuel’s death (see Sefer Shmuel I22:19), at which time the mishkan was taken to Givon (see Sefer Divrei HaYamim, or Chronicles I 16:39).

 

While the Tabernacle was standing in Nov and Givon, the aron – the Holy Ark – was not in the mishkan. Rather, after it had been captured in battle by the Pelishtim, upon being returned seven months later it was placed in Kiryat Ye’arim (see Sefer Shmuel IChapters 6-7), where it stood until being taken to Jerusalem by King David (see Sefer Shmuel IIChapter 6).

 

The fact that the aron did not reside in the mishkan had halakhic ramifications. As Rabbi Yohanan explains to Resh Lakish on today’s daf (=page), without the aron in its place, ma’aser sheni – the second tithe – which was usually eaten by its owner within the walls of the city of Shiloh or of Jerusalem, was not eaten.

 

This ruling of Rabbi Yohanan is subject to different interpretations. According to Rabbenu Hananel, during this period, the obligation of ma’aser sheni was simply suspended. Without the aron, there could be no fulfillment of eating the tithe lifnei HaShem – “before God” (see  12:18) – so this tithe was not taken, even as the other tithes remained obligatory. Others suggest that once the obligation to separate ma’aser sheni was established with the erection of the Tabernacle in Shiloh it could not be suspended, rather it had to be redeemed and exchanged for money. Finally, according to Rashi the ma’aser sheni had to be separated, but it could be eaten anywhere.