April 16, 2021

Yoma 5

Much of today’s daf (Yoma 5b) is dedicated to identifying the ceremonies that took place during the 7-day inauguration of the Mishkan and to considering whether these ceremonies were required in future generations. And according to Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, among these ceremonies was מקרא פרשה (literally, ‘the reading of scripture’).

To understand what is meant by מקרא פרשה we must look at Vayikra 8:5 – which is the biblical verse quoted by Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai to support his conjecture. And it is there where we are told that at the beginning of the original inauguration, Moshe said to the community: זֶה הַדָּבָר – these are the words, אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה’ לַעֲשׂוֹת – which God commanded to be done – which is explained to mean that Moshe read out the verses from the Torah describing what was about to take place over the coming 7 days. In fact, according to Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, this was such an essential part of the inauguration that אפילו דיבור מעכב – even failure to perform the recitation [dibbur] of the Torah to the people invalidates the inauguration.

For the Chafetz Chaim (Torah Ohr Ch. 3), this concept of אפילו דיבור מעכב, along with the fact that even when the sacrifices were offered in the Mishkan they were accompanied with the reading of the related Torah verses (see Midrash Tanchuma: Tzav), teaches us that Torah reading and Torah learning were integral to the service in the Mishkan. And ‘just as God established that transgressions be repaired up above (i.e. in heaven) through the act of bringing a sacrifice, so too, He also established that they be repaired with the ultimate source, the Torah, which is the source of the [laws of the] sacrifices and the source of everything’.

Consequently, the Chafetz Chaim explains that since we no longer have a Beit HaMikdash, and since we do not offer sacrifices, we should make an effort to read and study the laws of the sacrifices, ‘and by doing so, we will repair everything with the source (i.e. the Torah) up above (i.e. in heaven)’.

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