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All the way to Yericho

Tamid (3:8) | Yisrael Bankier | 11 hours ago

The Mishnah (3:8) records several activities that occurred in the Beit HaMikdash that could be heard in Yericho. For example, the first one listed is the sound of the opening of the double doors that led to the heichal, which occurred every morning. We shall try to probe the nature of this phenomenon.

The Tifferet Yisrael (Yachin 67) explains that the sound carrying was a natural phenomenon and not miraculous. He reasons that if they were miraculous what would be the purpose? Considering that miracles always served some purpose and not performed for mere theatrics, the Mishnah must be describing natural occurrences.

Understanding the Mishnah in this manner impacts our understanding of the details of the Mishnah. For example, the Mishnah explains that when the kohen gadol said the name of Hashem on Yom Kippur, it could be heard from Yericho. The Tosfot Yom Tov explains that the Mishnah must be referring not the kohen gadol, but rather the response of all those in the azara declaring "baruch shem...". The Mishnah simply associates the phenomenon with the kohen gadol considering that he triggered the reaction.

The Tosfot Yom Tov admits that the Mishnah can be referring to the voice of an individual. We find the voice of Gevini also listed; the kohen that would announce that it was time for the kohanim to wake and perform the avodah. Nevertheless, with respect the previous phenomenon, the Mishnah only lists the "kohen gadol", and it is possible that not every kohen gadol could project his voice. The Tosfot Yom Tov explains that considering that the Mishnah states "the voice of the kohen gadol at the time he would mention the name of Hashem on Yom Kippur" supports the position that we are referring to the experience including the response, rather that the voice of the kohen gadol alone.

The Chidushei Maharich however insists that the Mishnah is referring to the kohen gadol and not the audience. Firstly, he cites the Gemara (Yoma 20b) that comments that phenomenon of the kohen gadol was more exceptional than that of Gevini, considering that the latter was at night when sound travels further. This would suggest that the Mishnah is referring to an individual rather than a crowd. To address the Tosfot Yom Tov's other concern, he cites Rashi that explains that this experience was not with every kohen gadol but occurred once with a particular kohen gadol. The Chiddushei Mahariach adds that the since the Mishnah write the "voice of the kohen gadol" in the singular supports the idea that the Mishnah is referring to a particular kohen gadol and not each one.

Note that in the above debate, both positions attempt to understand the Mishnah in natural means. The Tifferet Yisrael adds that the fact the Mishnah lists every case with "from Yericho" rather than listing them altogether, suggests that the volume of each case was different and sensed differently for Yericho.

If indeed it was natural, why does the Mishnah list Yericho and not simply the distance that the sound carried? The Raavad answers that Yericho was the only city until which the sound would have carried when considering the geography of the surrounds of Yerushalaim.

The Raavad however cites another explanation in the name of "Moro HaRav HaChassid" -- the phenomena were indeed miraculous. Why? The Midrash (Bamidbar Raba 14:1) records that Yehoshua explained to Am Yisrael that just as one must separate "terumah" (challah) from dough, so too terumah be separated from Eretz Yisrael. This was realised with the first conquest, where the spoils, and the city itself, were given to Hashem. Consequently, it was only the sounds that started the day, that opened the daily service, whose sounds were miraculously heard in Yericho, so that people would sense that Yericho itself had some of the kedusha of Yerushalaim.

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