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Sharona Margolin Halickman

In whose territory did the Shechina rest?

Photo Courtesy Sharona Halickman

In Parsha Re’eh, the ultimate spot where the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) will be built is hinted to many times such as in Dvarim 12:5: “At the place that HaShem, your God, chooses from all your tribes to set His Presence there, will you seek His Presence and come there.”

Was the Beit HaMikdash in the territory of Binyamin or Yehuda or was it located in neutral territory that belongs to all of Am Yisrael (the entire Jewish nation)?

The Talmud, Yoma 12a teaches:

The Tanna Kamm (first Tanna in the Mishna) maintains that Jerusalem was not apportioned among the tribes. However, Rabbi Yehuda maintains that Jerusalem was apportioned among the tribes.

According to the Tanna Kamma, Jerusalem was designated as the Temple city and all the tribes retained rights therein.

The Chazon Ish (Orach Chaim 126:8) explains that initially Jerusalem was apportioned among the tribes as at the time, the site of the Beit HaMikdash was unknown. Once Jerusalem was designated as the Temple city, equal access was granted to all of the tribes. However, the original owners of property in Jerusalem (members of the tribes of Yehuda and Binyamin) retained titles to their properties. The rest of Israel only received the right to use these properties when they traveled to Jerusalem.

The Gemara asks: Which parts of the Temple complex were in the portion of Yehuda?

The Temple Mount, the chambers (lishkot) and the courtyards (azarot) were in the portion of Yehuda.

Which parts were in the portion of the tribe of Binyamin?

The antechamber (ulam), the sanctuary (heichal), and the Kodesh HaKodashim were in the portion of Binyamin.

A strip of land projected from the portion of Yehuda and extended into the portion of Binyamin and on it the altar was erected. Binyamin the tzadik (righteous) was pained by it each day. As it says in Moshe’s blessing to the tribe of Binyamin (Dvarim 33:12): “He agonizes over it all day long.” Therefore Binyamin became host to the presence of God. As it says (Dvarim 33:12) “And between his (Binyamin’s) shoulders does He (God) rest.”

Rashi points out that the Holy Ark (upon which the Shechina, the Divine Presence rested) was located in Binyamin’s portion.

Binyamin was the permanent host of the Shechina. Even before the Beit HaMikdash was built, the Shechina always resided in the territory of Binaymin. The Talmud, Zevachim 118b points out that the Shechina rested in different Sanctuaries before the Beit Hamikdash in Jerusalem: Shilo, Nov & Givon. All were located in the tribe of Binyamin.

May we merit to see the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash in Yerushalayim!

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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