Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Homeward Bound

Towards the end of the Parsha we are informed that when one visits the Holy Temple and offers his sacrifices on the holidays that he should not leave the city that day, rather, he should stay for at least one evening. (Devarim 16:7) A quick and interesting point about this mitzvah can be seen in the commentary offered by Rabbeinu Bachye.

Rabbeinu Bachye points out that Hashem decided to place this commandment in the section dealing with the laws of Pesach. This is because most of the men of Klal Yisrael had an obligation to ascend to the Holy Temple for the three major holidays and bring sacrifices. (Devarim 16:16) Rabbeinu Bachye cites from Chazal that Eretz Yisrael is 400 parsah by 400 parsah, and Yerushalyim is perfectly centered. As such, the most any inhabitant would have to travel would be 200 parsah. The average distance traveled per day is 10 parsah. (Pesachim 93b-94a). Doing the math, including the exclusion of the 7 Shabbosos and 1 day of the last day of Pesach during which this man cannot travel, shows that there is just enough time for someone from the most distant part of Eretz Yisrael to return home from
Pesach, stay for a day, and leave the next morning to go back to the Holy Temple for Shavuos! This can be seen from the fact that we are taught that upon leaving the Temple one may go back to "your" place of dwelling, see Devarim 16:7.

This is clearly not the case food someone living in the Diaspora. Either the Torah does not have such compassion for him since he should be in Eretz Yisrael. Or, since mitzvos were really given to be performed in Eretz Yisrael, as the Ramban mentions in several places, the nature of the mitzvah reflects this region (as clearly stated by the Ramban, this does not give one outside of Eretz Yisrael an excuse not to perform mitzvos). Or, the mitzvah to ascend for the holidays does not apply to those living outside of Eretz Yisrael. This last point is debated by many Acharonim.

If anybody has a suggestion if there is significance to the fact that after returning from his Shavuos pilgrimage this same individual will be home just in time for Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, I would love to hear that.

1 comment:

Ari S. said...

An interesting point that I realized over Shabbos. The calculations above were made based on the information provided by Rabbeinu Bachye. He cited that Eretz Yisrael is 400 parsah X 400 parsah which indicates a square. Yet, he mentions that the most distant person from Yerushalayim, which was centered, would be only 200 parsah. This latter point would not be true of a square, rather, of a circle with a diameter of 400. In that case the most distant point from center, the radius, would be 200. In a 400 X 400 square, the corners would be greater than 200 distant from the center. Is the language of 400 X 400 meant to indicate a circle even though it does not seem to mean that? Why would Rabbeinu Bachye disregard the people living in the corners?