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Parsha and Manuscript: Balak - 'How goodly are the tents of Jacob' through the Oxford Manuscripts of Rashi

Thursday, 18 July, 2019 - 7:25 pm

MS. Canon. Or. 81 Fol. 149 Balak.pngIn the portion of Balak, the king of Moav, Balak, hires the non-Jewish prophet Balaam to curse the Jewish people. Instead of cursing, impressed by the virtues of the Jewish people who don’t follow sorcery and future telling, uphold lofty morals, as well as the forgiveness of all sins by G-d, Balaam only finds reason to praise the Jewish people and bless them. One of the praises that Balaam extols the Jewish people for is expressed in a verse that has also been incorporated as the opening to the morning prayers.

 

The Torah states:[1] ‘Balaam raised his eyes and saw Israel dwelling according to its tribes, and the spirit of G-d rested upon him. Balaam then proceeds to say:[2] How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!’ The praise: ‘How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!’ is, however, ambiguous, as it does not seem to specify what exactly it is that is goodly about the tents and dwellings of Israel. In this essay, we will look at the various commentaries on this verse, and focus particularly on the Rashi commentary in light of a number of variations of this commentary as found in the Hebrew manuscripts at the Bodleian library and other libraries at Oxford. The commentaries are divided into two categories: 1. The present, how the Jews were camped in the desert, and impending entrance into the land, 2. The future, in relation to the Tabernacles, the Jerusalem Temples, the synagogues and the study halls and the virtue of Torah study and observance of mitzvot more broadly. We’ll proceed to detail eight commentaries, explaining the verse that will allow us to understand the specific selection that Rashi chooses for his commentary.

 

Facing entrances

 

CCCMS165 Fol. 121B.png

 

The Talmud[3] maintains that when it states: ‘And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and saw Israel dwelling tribe by tribe; and the spirit of G-d came upon him,’[4] it refers to Balaam noticing that the entrances of the tents of Israel were not facing each other.[5] Balaam said: If this is the case, these people are worthy of having the Divine Presence rest on them.’ This serves as the basis for the stipulation in Jewish law that that one may not open an entrance in a shared courtyard opposite another entrance.[6] Rashi follows this Talmudic teaching on the verse:[7] 'Dwelling according to its tribes,’ commenting: 'He saw each tribe dwelling by itself, not intermingling with other tribes, and he saw that the openings of their tents did not face each other, so that they should not peer into each other’s tents.'[8] Rashi thus comments the same on the following verse: ‘How goodly are your tents:[9] For he saw that the entrances were not facing each other.’[10]

 

Encampment

 

According to Onkelos the term ‘dwellings’ refers to the encampments of Israel according to tribes and the fact that they did not intermingle.[11]

 

Dwellings in the desert and Israel

 

MS. Canon. Or. 81 Balak.png

Spanish Rabbi Bahya (1255 - 1340), as well as 18th-century Italian Rabbi David Pardo in his commentary Maskil l’David, in his interpretation of Rashi’s commentary,[12] and 19th century Rabbi Meir Leibush ben Yehiel Michel Wisser (1809 – 1879), known as Malbim,[13] explain that ‘tents’ and ‘dwellings’ refer simply to the dwelling of the Jews in the desert, where they lived in temporary tents, and Israel, where they lived in permanent dwellings. The goodness that Balaam saw was the Divine presence that rested in the tents of the Jewish people.[14]

 

Places of worship

 

Other commentaries refer ‘tents’ and ‘dwellings’ not to private dwellings but to places of worship: the tabernacle and the Jerusalem Temple. The Midrash Tehilim[15] explains that the juxtaposition of ‘How goodly are your tents’ with:[16] ‘They extend like streams, like gardens by the river, like aloes which the Lord planted, like cedars by the water,’ is to indicate that just as a river[17] is used for immersion for purification, similarly, one who enters the Temple achieves atonement.

 

Built and destroyed Temple

 

Midrash Tanchuma[18] and Midrash Rabba[19] refer ‘tents’ and ‘dwellings’ to the tabernacles and temples of Israel - when they are built and destroyed, respectively. When they are built they atone through offerings and when destroyed, they serve as a pledge (read not mishkan – tabernacle - but mashkan - pledge) for the sins of the Jewish people.

 

Ohr Hachaim simplifies this comparison, referring ‘tents’ to the tabernacle that is also called tent, and ‘dwellings’ to the Temple in Jerusalem. Rabbi Moshe Alshich[20] elaborates that Balaam saw that the spirit of G-d from the upper worlds cleaves to Israel in the physical world through the tabernacles - the tent of meeting, Gilgal, Shilah, Nov and Gibeon, as well as the two Jerusalem Temples, similar to a stream[21] that flows from its source to a further distance. Similarly, the Divine presence flows from its source at Mount Moriah to the Jewish people in the desert, through the temporary tabernacles in Gilgal, Shilah, Nob and Giveon, and then closer to its source in the first Jerusalem Temple. The second Temple in Jerusalem that was lacking the ark, among other items, reflected a subsequent flow away from the source that continues through the exile of the Jewish people. The connection to the source remains however through Torah study until the time of redemption.

 

MS. Oppenheim 35, fol. 86 (1408) Bolok.pngSynagogues and study halls

 

A further interpretation of the Talmud[22] is that ‘tents’ refer to the synagogues and study halls of the Jewish people, and ‘dwellings’ refers to the Divine presence that rests in them. Italian Rabbi Ovadia ben Jacob Sforno (1475-1550) elaborates that the term: ‘how goodly’ refers to the benefit of synagogues and study halls not only for those who occupy them but the Jewish people as a whole. On a similar note, 13th century French Rabbi Chizkuni ben Manoach connects ‘tents of Jacob’ to how Jacob is described in Genesis:[23] ‘Jacob was an innocent man, dwelling in tents’ - referring to the Bet Midrash (study hall) of the son and grandson of Noah, Shem and Eber, where Jacob studied for fourteen years.[24]

 

Prayers

 

Reflecting the connection of the verse: ‘How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!’ to synagogues, the Ashkenazi and Sephardi prayer books open the morning prayers with this verse, though in the latter it is mainly as a prayer for entering the synagogue, while in the former it is the opening morning prayer unrelated necessarily to entering the synagogue.

 

The development of this prayer in the Ashkenazi prayer book was also in two stages, first as a prayer for entering the synagogue, and then the opening morning prayer. This is indicated by the fact that it is not found at all in the earliest known Ashkenazi prayer book of the 12th century (CCCMS133) at Corpus Christi College.[25] The verse is however found in the Siddur of Rav Amram Gaon[26] and Machzor Vitry,[27] but as a prayer upon entering the synagogue, alongside a prayer for leaving the synagogue.[28]

 

How many verses?

 

The structure of the prayer itself varies between liturgies. In Machzor Vitry by Rabbi Simcha of Vitry (d. 1105), a disciple of Rashi, the prayer constitutes eight verses and begins not with Numbers 24:5: ‘How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel’, but with Psalms 5:8: ‘But I, with Your great loving-kindness, shall enter Your House; I shall prostrate myself toward Your Holy Temple in the fear of You.’ The third verse in this prayer is Numbers 24:5: ‘How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!’ The same is true in later prayer books, including the Siddur of Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (15765-1630), known as the Shelah, Rabbi Jacob Emden (1697-1796), known as the Ya’avetz, and Rabbi Shabtai Sofer (London, 1852).

 

In 18th century Ashkenazi prayer book Tefilah Derech Siach Hasadeh (Berlin, 1713)[29] and Sephardi prayer books nowadays the prayer consists of five verses,[30] and begins with Numbers 24:5: ‘How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!’ In modern day Ashkenazi prayer books, the prayer is abridged to three verses.[31]

 

When exactly the prayer became an opening prayer in the Ashkenazi prayer book, unrelated to entering the synagogue, is not clear.

 

In the 16th century, Rabbi Solomon Luria, known as the Maharshal (1510-1574), argued against reciting it, due to its origin being from a non-Jewish prophet.[32] The verse can be found however as the opening to the morning prayers in the Siddur of Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572), known as the Arizal, the Siddur of the Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the second edition of Siddur Admur Hazaken of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1813)[33] - and it is found today in all Ashkenazi prayer books.

 

In 18th century Ashkenazi prayer book Tefilah Derech Siach Hasadeh[34] both concepts appear: The verse in Psalms 5:8: ‘But I, with Your great loving-kindness, shall enter Your House; I shall prostrate myself toward Your Holy Temple in the fear of You’ is recited upon entering the synagogue,[35] and then repeated as the opening to the morning prayers after Numbers 24:5: ‘How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel.’

 

This reconstitution of the prayer from ‘entering synagogue’ prayer to opening prayer of the morning service, is due to a change in practice in how Jews would enter the synagogue: with the Talit and Tefilin donned already in the home or in the synagogue. Since the second verse states: ‘I shall prostrate myself toward Your Holy Temple in the fear of You,’ which alludes to a person wearing the Talit and Tefilin, it was instituted to be said once the person had already donned the Talit and Tefilin; if the Talit and Tefilin is donned in the house, then the verse is said upon entering the synagogue. When it became customary to lay the Talit and Tefilin, not in the house but in the synagogue, the custom changed to recite the verse in the synagogue as part of the morning prayers. The custom of when to recite the verse ‘How goodly is the tent of Jacob’ that accompanied the above verse was thus also changed accordingly.[36]

 

The interpretation of the verse in the context of all the above discussion regarding the verse in Numbers 24:5: ‘How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel’ is based on the Talmudic interpretation of the verse that it refers to the synagogues and Bet Midrash and the Divine presence that rests within them.[37]

 

Torah study

 

Midrash Lekach Tov[38] refers ‘How goodly are your tents’ to those who study in the ‘tents’ of Torah, upon which the Divine presence rests. Rabbi Chayim ben Attar (1696-1743), author of Ohr Hachaim and Kabbalistic work Etz Chaim[39] interpret ‘tents’ and ‘dwellings’ as referring to different categories of Jews in relation to Torah study. Those who work for a livelihood and study Torah only occasionally is similar to ‘tents’ that are not permanent, while ‘dwellings’ refer to those who study Torah constantly - similar to a dwelling that is firmly fastened to the ground.

 

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi – Torah and Mitzvot with modesty

 

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi explains further that ‘tents’ and ‘dwellings’ refer to Mitzvot and Torah study respectively. The ‘tents,’ in the plural, refer to the Mitzvot as they have two components: turning away from evil and doing good,[40] and Mitzvot are called tents, since deeds are peripheral to the person, similar to a tent that surrounds the person externally. This is in contrast to study of Torah, as knowledge, that becomes a part of the person. The proceeding ‘How goodly’ may be then understood in the context of the verse in Micah:[41] ‘He has told you, O man, what is good, and what the Lord demands of you; but only to do justice, to love loving-kindness, and to walk discreetly with your G-d.’

 

Summary

 

In summary, there are nine interpretations of the verse:[42] ‘How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel:’ 1. The tents not facing each other, 2. Encampment according to tribes, 3. Dwellings in desert and Israel, 4. Built temple and destroyed Temple, 5. Tabernacle and Temple, 6. Synagogues and study halls, 7. Torah study, 8. Two categories of people who study Torah, 9. Torah and Mitzvot.

 

Rashi commentary

 

Rashi in his commentary selects from the above commentaries. 1. The encampment of the Jewish people in the desert did not face each other, 2. following Onkelos that the encampments was according to their tribes. 3. They will have a built Temple that will atone for Israel and 4. The Temple that will be destroyed Temple will be a pledge for the sins of the Jewish people.

 

The text of Rashi as found in the printed edition is as follows:

 

1. How goodly are your tents: For he saw that the entrances were not facing each other.

 

2. Your dwelling places: Your encampments, as the Targum [Onkelos] renders.

 

3. Another explanation: “How goodly are your tents” - How goodly are the tent of Shiloh and the eternal Temple when they are inhabited, for offerings are brought up in them to atone for you.

 

4. Your dwelling places: Even when they are desolate, for they are held as a pledge (Mashkon) for you, and their desolate state atones for your souls, as it says, “The Lord has spent His fury.” [43] How did He spend it? “He has kindled a fire in Zion."[44]

 

Three version of Rashi in the manuscripts

 

MS. Michael 384, fol. 111 (1399) Bolok.pngIn the manuscripts there are three versions:

 

1. In CCCMS165,[45] MS. Oppenheim 34 (1201-1225),[46] MS. Canon. Or. 81 (1396),[47] and MS. Canonici Or. 35 (1401-1425)[48] the version of Rashi is as printed.

 

2. In MS. Huntington 389[49] (1301-1400), the order of the commentaries are in reverse: The first two commentaries are about the built and destroyed Tabernacles and Temples, that will act as atonement for the Jewish people. The second is about the encampments that they encamped with modesty not facing each other and according to their tribes.

 

Interestingly, in MS. Huntington 389 (1301-1400) states: ‘How goodly are your tents: For he saw that the entrances were open but not facing each other,’ implying there were two virtues: the tents were open and also not facing each other.

 

3. In MS. Huntington 445[50] (1376-1400), MS. Michael 384, fol. 111 (1399) and MS. Oppenheim 35[51] (1408), the order of the commentaries are according to the words as they appear in the verse: first completing the two interpretations relating to ‘tents’ and then proceeding with the two interpretations relating to ‘dwellings.’ In this version the first two commentaries are that a. they encamped with modesty and b. the built Tabernacles and Temples, and the second two commentaries are a. about the encampment according to their tribes and b. the destroyed Tabernacles and Temples, that serve as an atonement.

 

A similar version can be found in the Rashi text as recorded in the commentary of Rabbi Jacob ben Asher (1269-1343), Ba’al Haturim, but with the interpretations of ‘tent’ in reverse order: first relating to the built tabernacle and Temples, and, second, relating to the modesty of the encampment.

 

A further variation is in MS. Oppenheim 35[52] (1408), where it follows the order of MS. Huntington 445, but omits the second interpretation of ‘dwellings’ that it refers to the encampments.

 

Facing each other

 

A further peculiarity in the manuscripts may be found in MS. Canonici Or. 35, where in the original text the interpretation of ‘tent’ stated: ‘For he saw that the entrances were facing each other.’ In the margin, there is a correction, clarifying that the entrances were not facing each other. In the Ba’al Haturim commentary it appears that he also had this version without the correction.

 

Question

 

Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 09.01.16 am.pngWe would like to pose two questions on the above versions of the manuscripts: 1. Why do the versions of the manuscripts change around the order of the two commentaries on each of the words ‘tent’ and dwellings,’ whereby some of the manuscripts have the commentaries about the encampment (modesty and tribes) before the commentary about the Temple (built and destroyed), while others have the reverse? 2. Why do some manuscripts have the commentaries in order of themes of the commentaries, whereby only after completing the theme of the commentary both words - ‘tent’ and dwellings’ - referring to the encampment (modesty and tribes), does it move to the second theme of commentary relating to the Temples (built and destroyed), while some complete the interpretations on the first word (tent) before proceeding with the interpretations on the next word ‘dwellings,’ disregarding the fact that the commentaries are connected by themes of the interpretations (encampments and Temples)?

 

Rabbi Jacob ben Asher, in Ba’al Haturim, as mentioned, had a version of Rashi that also followed the order of the text as it appears in the verse, as opposed to theme, and posed a similar question: why did Rashi not complete the theme of the commentary before moving to the next theme? He suggests that in his view the latter style, following theme, is more logical and concludes that further analysis is required to understand why Rashi neglects to complete the theme and focuses on the order of the words.

 

Inaccuracy of meaning of text

 

I would like to propose that the reason for the difference in the order of the Rashi commentary in the manuscripts can be understood by presenting the reason why Rashi brings two interpretations on each word in the first place and does not suffice with one. Rabbi Jacob ben Asher argues the reason Rashi does not suffice with the commentary referring to Temples is because the Temple in Jerusalem is not usually referred to as ‘tent.’ For this reason, Rashi brings a second commentary that the ‘tent’ and ‘dwellings’ refer to the encampment.

 

Tent and dwelling out of order

 

The Lubavitcher Rebbe[53] argues that a reason why, on the other hand, Rashi does not suffice with the commentary referring to the encampment is because the information about the general structure of the encampment, alluded to in ‘dwellings,’ should come first, and only afterwards ‘tent’ highlighting a finer moral detail about the entrances not facing each other. This is in fact the order of the commentary of Rashi on an earlier verse:[54] ‘Balaam raised his eyes and saw Israel dwelling according to its tribes, and the spirit of G-d rested upon him,’ whereby Rashi comments,[55]1. ‘He saw each tribe dwelling by itself, not intermingling with other tribes, and, 2. he saw that the openings of their tents did not face each other, so that they should not peer into each other’s tents.’ Due to the problem with the order of the words: ‘tent’ and ‘dwellings’ in the commentary about the encampment, Rashi brings also the commentary about the Temples.

 

In summary, the problem with the commentary about the encampment is that the words of the Torah are not in order and the problem with the commentary about the Temple is that the meaning of the word ‘tent’ itself is difficult. This would explain our first question pertaining to the order of how the commentaries are presented in the manuscripts: some have the ‘encampment’ commentary first, while some have the ‘Temple’ commentary first. This would be dependent on how one views the text: is it more important to have the text of the Torah in logical sequence or is the accuracy of the literal meaning of the text more important. If the former, then the ‘Temple’ commentaries that do not suffer from lack of logical sequence would come first. If the latter, then the ‘encampment’ commentary that does not suffer from lack of accuracy of meaning would come first.

 

I would like to propose that this also explains the second question: some versions follow theme while some follow the order of the text. It would seem that in following the order of the text, where we present two interpretations of ‘tent’ followed by two interpretations of ‘dwelling,’ there is no particular order to how these four interpretations are configured. One may mix them and select the commentaries that are most suitable to the meaning of the text, unrelated to themes. Accordingly, in an attempt to avoid both problems above, one may interpret ‘tent’ as referring to the encampment – that the entrances were not facing each other, and ‘dwelling’ referring to the Temple - that when destroyed it acts as a pledge for the sins of Israel.[56] With this selection of the commentaries - ‘tent’ referring to the encampment and ‘dwelling’ referring to the Temple - both the above difficulties – sequence and inaccurate meaning - are avoided, allowing for the most perfect reading of the verse, albeit with lack of consideration to consistency in theme.[57]


 


Footnotes

[1] Numbers 24:2.

[2] Numbers 24:5.

[3] Baba Batra 60a: A person may not open an entrance opposite another entrance or a window opposite another window toward a courtyard belonging to partners, so as to ensure that the residents will enjoy a measure of privacy. If there was a small entrance he may not enlarge it. If there was one entrance he may not fashion it into two. But one may open an entrance opposite another entrance or a window opposite another window toward the public domain. Similarly, if there was a small entrance he may enlarge it, and if there was one entrance he may fashion it into two. Talmud: The Talmud asks: From where are these matters, i.e., that one may not open an en-trance opposite another entrance, or a window opposite another window, derived? Rabbi Yoḥanan says that the verse states: “And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel dwelling tribe by tribe; and the spirit of God came upon him” (Numbers 24:2). The Talmud explains: What was it that Balaam saw that so inspired him? He saw that the entrances of their tents were not aligned with each other, ensuring that each family enjoyed a measure of privacy. And he said: If this is the case, these people are worthy of having the Divine Presence rest on them.’

[4] Numbers 24:2.

[5] Ensuring that each family enjoyed a measure of privacy.

[6] Baba Batra 60a.  See Shitah Mekubetzet for the details pertaining to this.

[7] Numbers 24:2.

[8] Baba Batra 60a, Midrash Aggadah.

[9] Numbers 24:5.

[10] Baba Batra 60a.

[11] Likkutei Sichot 13 understanding of Rashi’s quotation of Onkelos.

[12] See Likkutei Sichot 13:78, footnote 7 that challenges Maskil l’David’s understanding of Rashi’s commentary, as Rashi doesn’t seems to event hint to this concept; on the contrary, Onkelos’ interpretation that Rashi does bring for ‘your dwellings’ implies the encampment in the dessert.

[13] Numbers 24:5.

[14] Rashbam on Numbers 24:2.

[15] Midrash Tehilim 5:1.

[16] Numbers 24:6.

[17] Subject to various conditions in Jewish law.

[18] Midrash Tanchuma, Exodus (Mishpatim) 11:2. Midrash Tanchuma, Numbers 14:1.

[19] Bamidbar Rabba 12:14.

[20] On Numbers 24:5.

[21] Drawing on the juxtaposition of the verse (Numbers 24:6): ‘They extend like streams, like gardens by the river, like aloes which the Lord planted, like cedars by the water.’

[22] Sanhedrin 105b: Rabbi Yoḥanan says: From the blessing of that wicked person, Balaam, youcan ascertain what was in his heart. G-d transformed the curses that he planned into blessings. He sought to say that they should not have synagogues and study halls, and he said instead: “How goodly are your tents, Jacob” (Numbers 24:5), a blessing on their synagogues. He sought to say that the Divine Presence [shekhina] will not rest upon them, and he said instead: “And your dwellings [mishkenot] Israel.” Rabbi Abba bar Kahana says: All of the blessings ultimately reverted to be fulfilled as the curse that he originally intended, as all of those circumstances befell the Jewish people, except for the destruction of synagogues and study halls, as it is stated: “And the Lord your God transformed the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loved you” (Deuteronomy 23:6). A curse in the singular, not curses in the plural, was transformed permanently.

[23] 25:27. Rashi comments:  The tent of Shem and the tent of Eber.

[24] Genesis Rabbah 63:10.

[25] Fol. 5: https://web.nli.org.il/sites/NLI/English/digitallibrary/pages/viewer.aspx?&presentorid=MANUSCRIPTS&docid=PNX_MANUSCRIPTS000169465-1#|FL61273442. Interestingly, however, while the verse from Numbers about the praise for tents of Israel is not found, another verse about the tents of the enemies of Israel is found[25] at the end of the morning prayers from Psalms 83:7: ‘The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites.’ This is preceded by verse 5: ‘They said, “Come, let us destroy them from [being] a nation, and the name of Israel will no longer be remembered.”’ In conclusion, the Psalmist asks: ‘Let them know that You-Your name alone is the Lord, Most High over all the earth.’ It’s possible that when the prayer about the tents of the enemies of Israel was no longer recited in the morning prayers, it was replaced by its contrast highlighting the praiseworthiness of the tents of Israel, as opposed the destructive aims of the tents of Edom.

[26] P. 244.

[27] In Machzor Vitry, p. 99 (Jerusalem 2009) the order of the verses are 1. Psalms 5:8: But I, with Your great loving-kindness, shall enter Your House; I shall prostrate myself toward Your Holy Temple in the fear of You.’ 2. Psalms 69:14: ‘But, as for me, may my prayer to You, O Lord, be in an acceptable time. O G-d, with Your abundant kindness, answer me with the truth of Your salvation.’ 3. Numbers 24:5: ‘How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!’ 4. Psalms 26:8: O Lord, I love the dwelling of Your house and the place of the residence of Your glory.’ 5. Psalms 122:1: ‘I rejoiced when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”’ 6. Psalms 119:162: ‘I rejoice over Your word as one who finds great spoil.’ 7. Psalms 5:2-4: ‘Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my meditation.’ 8. Psalms 5:3: ‘Hearken to the voice of my cry, my King and my G-d, for I will pray to You.’ 8. Psalms 5:4: ‘O Lord, in the morning You shall hearken to my voice; in the morning I shall arrange [my prayer] to You, and I shall look forward.’

[28] See Iyun Tefillah on Mah Tovu by Dayan LY Raskin. Much of the details on this subject are derived from the above.

[29] http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=20257&st=&pgnum=26.

[30] The Sephardi prayer book has the following four verses after the verse in Numbers: 1. Psalms 5:8: But I, with Your great loving-kindness, shall enter Your House; I shall prostrate myself toward Your Holy Temple in the fear of You. 2. Psalms 26:8: O Lord, I love the dwelling of Your house and the place of the residence of Your glory,’ 3. Psalms 95:6: ‘Come, let us prostrate ourselves and bow; let us kneel before the Lord, my (our) Maker’, 4. Psalms 69:14: ‘But, as for me, may my prayer to You, O Lord, be in an acceptable time. O G-d, with Your abundant kindness, answer me with the truth of Your salvation.’

[31] 1. Numbers 24:5: ‘How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!’ 2. Psalms 5:8: ‘But I, with Your great loving-kindness, shall enter Your House; I shall prostrate myself toward Your Holy Temple in the fear of You,’ 3. Psalms 69:14: ‘But, as for me, may my prayer to You, O Lord, be in an acceptable time. O G-d, with Your abundant kindness, answer me with the truth of Your salvation.’ A reason for the three verses is according to the Zohar, corresponding to the three patriarchs. Siddur Edot HaMizrach does not have the prayer included at all.

[32] Others argued that this is of no concern as a verse from Balaam ‘He does not see iniquity in Jacob’ is recited in the Musaf prayer on Rosh Hashana. The Lubavitcher Rebbe argued in Torat Menachem 61:86 that had the Maharshal seen Siddur Rav Amram Gaon he would have followed the view of Rav Amram Gaon.

[33] In the first edition it followed Machzor Vitry that it is recited as a prayer upon entering the synagogue. In the second edition of Kapust the Alter Rebbe removed the reference to entering the synagogue and placed it as part of the morning prayers. An explanation by the Alter Rebbe of the verse ‘How goodly…’ may be found in Likkutei Torah, Balak.

[34] Published in Berlin, 1713. and Beit Tefilah of the Razah.

[35] It comments that the verse corresponds to Abraham, who is called kindness, Isaac, who was bound in the Akeida and Jacob, who said (Genesis 28:17): ‘How awesome is this place.’

[36] Sha’ar Hakolel 3:3.

[37] Sanhedrin 105b.

[38] Exodus 38:9:3.

[39] Sha’ar Miut Hayoreach 2. Likkutei Torah 74:4.

[40] Psalms 34:14.

[41] 6:8. Rashi comments: Jonathan renders: Walk discreetly in the fear of your God. Another explanation: And walk discreetly. The standard of flesh and blood is not like the standard of the Holy One, blessed be He. The standard of flesh and blood is: If one man embarrasses his fellow and comes to placate him, the fellow says to him, “I will not accept your apology until so and so and so and so, before whom you disgraced me, come.” But the Holy One, blessed be He, desires only that the man’s return to Him be between the two of them. [from Pesikta d’Rav Kahana 163b]. Accordingly, ‘How goodly’ refers to Balaam’s praise of the discreetness in the Jewish people’s spiritual service to G-d. 

[42] Numbers 24:5.

[43] Lamentations 4:11.

[44] Ibid. See Midrash Tanchuma Pekudei 4

[45] Fol. 121.

[46] Fol. 92.

[47] Fol. 149.

[48] Fol. 184.

[49] Fol. 74.

[50] Fol. 50.

[51] Fol. 86.

[52] Fol. 86.

[53] Likkutei Sichot 13:81.

[54] Numbers 24:2.

[55] Numbers 24:2.

[56] Similar to the commentary of Rashi on Exodus (38:21): ‘These are the numbers of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the Testimony, which were counted at Moses' command,’ where Rashi comments: ‘The word mishkan is written twice, alluding to the Temple, which was taken as security (mashkon) by the two destructions, for Israel’s iniquities.’ Midrash Tanchuma 2, Exodus Rabbah 51:3.

[57] This configuration of the interpretations is in fact how Rabeinu Bahya explains on Numbers (7:1:6) the double expression ‘your tents’ and your dwellings.’ ‘Tents’ is referring to the tents of Israel’s encampment and ‘your dwellings’ referring to the mishkan that is pledge for Israel’s sins.

 

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