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On Nationalism and Sanctity– part V


Rabbi Yossef Carmel

Shvat 29 5780
We have been looking at the connection between David’s ill-fated census and the buying of Aravna’s plot of land on Mt. Moriah.

In order to understand the connection, we will have to compare these events to a not-less-important one – akeidat Yitzchak. If we compare the relevant texts, Bereishit 22, dealing with akeidat Yitzchak, and Shmuel II, 24 and Divrei Hayamim I, 21, dealing with the purchase from Aravna, we will find many similarities.

In both cases, Hashem sent the "main characters," Avraham and David, respectively, to build an altar to sacrifice something at a specific place. In Bereishit, it says: "They came to the place that Hashem said, and Avraham built there an altar" (22:9). In Shmuel II, it says: "David built there an altar to Hashem" (24:25). In Bereishit, it says: "He took the ram and brought it as a burnt offering" (22:13). In Shmuel II, it says "He brought burnt offerings" (24:25).

Avraham attributed permanent significance to the place: "Avraham called that place ‘Hashem will see,’ so that it will be said today, ‘On the mountain of Hashem it will be seen’" (Bereishit 22:14). David did a similar thing: "David said: ‘This is the house of Hashem, and this is the altar for burnt offerings for Israel’" (Divrei Hayamim I, 22:1). In Shmuel II, the root of seeing is stressed several times (Shmuel II, 24:13, 17, 22).

The Torah reports that Avraham woke up early (Bereishit 22:3), and the navi stresses that David woke up in the morning (Shmuel II, 24:11). Each story talks about a third day and the wood used for the offering. In each context also, an angel plays a central role in the story (see Bereishit 22:11; Shmuel II, 24:16). The city of Be’er Sheva is also mentioned in each parallel chapter.

The most explicit connection between the two places is found when Shlomo Hamelech eventually built the Beit Hamikdash on Aravna’s mountain. It says that he did this, "in Yerushalayim, on the mountain of Moriah(mentioned in Bereishit), which was shown to his father, David, which he prepared in David’s place in the silo of Arnan the Yevusi" (Divrei Hayamim II, 3:1).

The Rambam (Beit Habechira 5:1-2) also strongly stresses the connection between these places: "The altar’s place is very exactly located, and it can never be moved from its place, as it says, ‘This is the altar for burnt offerings for Israel.’ And in this place Yitzchak was bound, as it says, ‘… and go to the Land of Moriah.’ And it says in Divrei Hayamim: ‘In Yerushalayim on the mountain of Moriah which was shown to his father, David, which he prepared in David’s place in the silo of Arnan the Yevusi.’ There is a tradition that everyone has that the place in which David and Shlomo built the altar in the silo of Aravna was the place at which Avraham built the altar and bound Yitzchak on it."

Next week we will go more deeply into the matter and will try to uncover the roots that are hidden in this holy place. With Hashem’s help, we will soon merit to see it rebuilt.
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