Daf for Shabbos – Chagigah 12

Daf Notes is currently being dedicated to the neshamah of

Tzvi Gershon Ben Yoel (Harvey Felsen) o”h

May the studying of the Daf Notes be a zechus for his neshamah
and may his soul find peace in Gan Eden and be bound up in the Bond of life.

Size of Adam


The Gemora asks: Why does the verse need to say “from the day when Hashem created man on the earth,” once we learned that one may not inquire about anything outside of the skies from the end of the verse, which says to ask “from one end of the sky to the other”?


The Gemora answers: It teaches us the size of Adam, as Rabbi Elazar says that originally he reached from the ground to the sky, but when he sinned, Hashem placed His hand on him, and diminished him, as the verse says that “You have formed me before and after, and placed Your palm on me.”


Rav Yehudah quotes Rav saying that Adam originally reached from one end of the world to the other, as the verse refers to the day when Hashem created Adam on the land, “and from one end of the sky to the other”, but when he sinned, Hashem placed his hand on him and diminished him.


The Gemora reconciles the two measures for Adam’s original measurement by saying they are equivalent.

First day of creation


Rav Yehudah quotes Rav listing ten things that were created on the first day: heaven and earth (as the verse says that in the beginning, Hashem created the heaven and the earth), tohu and bohu (as the verse says that the world then was tohu and bohu), light (as the verse says that Hashem said “let there be light”), darkness (as the verse says that the darkness was on the face of the depths), wind  and water (as the verse says that the wind of Hashem was on the face of the water), the length of a day and the length of a night (as the verse says that it was night and day on the first day).


The braisa states that tohu is a green line that surrounds the entire world, from which darkness emanated. Bohu is moist stones which are submerged in the depths, from where water emanates. The braisa proves that darkness surrounds the world from the verse which says that Hashem places the darkness around the sky, and the nature of tohu and bohu from the verse which says that Hashem placed on it a line of tohu and bohu stones.


The Gemora challenges the statement that light was created on the first day, from the verse which says that Hashem placed the celestial lights in the sky on the fourth day, and answers with Rabbi Elazar’s statement that the light Hashem created on the first day was a different light, with which one may see from one end of the world to the other. When Hashem saw the future actions of the generations of the flood and the tower of Bavel, he hid this light, as the verse says that He withheld the light from the wicked. He stored it away for the righteous to enjoy it in the future, as the verse says that Hashem saw that the light was tov – good, which is a reference to the righteous, as the verse says that we should say to the righteous ki tov – that [he] is good. When Hashem saw this light stored away, He was happy, as the verse says that the light of the righteous causes joy.


The Gemora says that this is a dispute of Tannaim, as the braisa cites Rabbi Yaakov saying that the first day’s light was this special light, while the Sages say it was the light of the celestial lights, which was created then, but only placed in the sky on the fourth day.

Attributes used to create the world


Rav Zutra bar Tuvia quotes Rav listing the ten attributes used to create the world: wisdom and reason (as the verse says that Hashem established the land with wisdom, and prepared the heavens with reason), understanding (as the verse says that with His understanding, the depths were broken through), strength and courage (as the verse says that Hashem prepares the mountains with strength, and He is girded with courage),  reproach (as the verse says the columns of the land were weak and shook from His reproach), righteousness and justice (as the verse says righteousness and justice are the base of Your throne), and kindness and mercy (as the verse implores Hashem to remember His mercy and kindness, as they are eternal).



Rav Yehudah quotes Rav saying that when Hashem created the world, it was expanding like two warp strings, until Hashem reproached them and they stopped, as the verse says that the pillars of the world were weakening, and they shook from His reproach. This is consistent with Rish Lakish’s statement that Hashem’s name of Sha-dai refers to Hashem’s saying dai – enough to the world.


Rish Lakish says that when Hashem created the sea, it was expanding until Hashem reproached it, and dried it, as the verse says that Hashem is the One who reproached the sea and dried it.

Order of creation


The Gemora cites a braisa with a dispute about the order of creation. Bais Shammai says the heavens were created before the land, as the verse says that in the beginning, Hashem create the heavens and the earth, while Bais Hillel says the opposite order, as the verse refers to the day that Hashem created the earth and the heavens. Bais Hillel challenged Bais Shammai from the normal practice of first building a house and only then the upper level, as the verse refers to the heavens as the upper level of the world. Bais Shamai challenged Bais Hillel from the normal practice of first building a chair, and only then building a foot rest, as Hashems says that the heavens are His throne, and the earth is the place of His feet. The Sages dispute both, and say that they were created simultaneously, as the verse says “My hand established the earth, and My right hand spread the heavens.”


The Gemora explains that Bais Shammai and Bais Hillel explain that verse to only mean that they remain attached, but not describing how they were created.


The Gemora asks how to reconcile the verses cited by Bais Shamai and Bais Hillel, and Raish Lakish answers that Hashem created heaven first, but placed the earth first.


The Gemora offers explanations for the meaning of the word shamayim – heaven:

  1. sham mayim – water is there (Rabbi Yossi bar Chanina)
  2. aish umayim – fire and water, as Hashem mixed the two to create the heavens (braisa)


Rabbi Yishmael asked Rabbi Akiva while they were walking, what his Rebbe, Nachum Ish Gam Zu, learned from the words es preceding shamayim – heavens and eretz – earth in the creation, as he would explain the lessons of each instance of es. He answered that without the one preceding shamayim, we may have thought that shamayim was a name of Hashem, while the es before eretz teaches that they were not created simultaneously.


The Gemora asks why the next verse begins by describing the eretz, even though the preceding verse began with the heavens.


Rabbi Yishmael answers with a parable. If the king told his servants to arrive early in the morning, and find both women and men who did so, he first praises the women, who are not accustomed to rising so early. Similarly, the earth is not as quick as the heavens, and therefore is more deserving of praise for being ready at the same time.

Basis of the land


The Gemora cites a braisa in which Rabbi Yosi bemoans people who see without understanding, and stand without knowing what they are standing on. He explains that the earth rests on the pillars, as the verse refers to the earth’s pillars. The pillars rest on the water, as the verse says that Hashem places the land on the water. The water rests on the mountains, as the verse says that one the mountains the water stands. The mountains rest on the wind, as the verse refers to Hashem as the former of mountains, and creator of wind. The wind rests on the storm, as the verse refers to the wind of the storm fulfilling His will. The storm is in the arm of Hashem, as the verse says that underneath, is the Eternal arm. The Sages say that the earth rests on twelve pillars, as the verse says that Hashem established the boundaries of the world, to the number of the sons of Israel (i.e., the 12 tribes). Some say there are seven pillars, as the verse says that Hashem hewed its seven pillars. Rabbi Elazar ben Shamua says it is one pillar, whose name is tzadik, as the verse says that the tzadik- righteous is the foundation of the world.

Levels of heaven


Rav Yehudah says there are two levels of heaven, as the verse says that Hashem has both the shamayim – heaven andshmai hashamayim – the heaven of the heavens. Raish Lakish lists 7 (vilon, rakia, shechakim, zevul, ma’on, machon, and aravos), and lists the function of each one:

  1. Vilon (curtain) only goes in at morning, and out at night, recreating the light and dark cycle of creation, as the verse says that Hashem spread the heavens like dok – a curtain, and He tightened them like a tent.
  2. Rakia is the place where the celestial bodies are located, as the verse says that Hashem placed them in the rakia of the heavens.
  3. Shechakim is the location of the heavenly mill, which provides man for the righteous, as the verse says that Hashem commanded the shechakim above, and opened the doors of heaven, and rained on them man to eat.
  4. Zevul is the location of the upper Yerushalayim and Bais Hamikdash, with an altar on which Micha’el offers sacrifices, as Shlomo said when he built the Bais Hamikdash, “I have built a zevul house for You, an eternal dwelling place.” The verse which beseeches Hashem to look from the heavens and see, from the zevul of Your holiness and glory teaches that zevul is considered heaven as well.
  5. Ma’on is the location of the angels who praise Hashem at night, and are silent during the day, out of deference to Bnai Yisrael, as the verse says that during the daytime Hashem commands His kindness (i.e., instructing the angels to be silent, to enable the prayers for His kindness to be heard), and at night, His song is with me. Raish Lakish says this verse teaches that anyone who learns Torah at night (i.e., His song is with me) merits a thread of kindness in the day (He commands His kindness during the daytime). Some say that Raish Lakish explained it to mean that anyone who learns Torah in this world, which is like night, will merit a thread of kindness in the world to come, which is like day. Rabbi Levi says that if one interrupts learning Torah to involve himself in chatter, he is fed coals, as the verse says that those who grab maluach (i.e., grab themselves away from Torah which is lach – moist, or which was written on luchos – tablets) on siach (to siach – speech), will have the roots (i.e. coals) of resamim as their food. The verse which asks Hashem to “look from the ma’on of Your holiness, from the heaven” teaches that ma’on is considered heaven.
  6. Machon is the location of storehouses of destructive weather (snow, hail, harmful dew, floods, storms, and heat), with doors of fire. The verse refers to Hashem opening for you His good storehouse for rain implies that there is a storehouse for destructive weather. The Gemora challenges this, as the verse says fire, hail, snow, heat, and storms praise Hashem on the earth, since they do His will, indicating that these reside on the earth. Rav Yehuda says in the name of Rav that Dovid requested that they be lowered to the earth, as he said that Hashem does not desire evil, and therefore evil things like these should not dwell next to Him. The verse which says that Hashem will listen from the heavens, “the machon of Your dwelling” teaches that they are also called heaven.
  7. Aravos is the location of righteousness, justice, charity, the reservoirs of life, peace, and blessing, the souls of the righteous, the souls that will yet be created, and the dew with which Hashem will resurrect the dead. 

    The Gemora cites verses for each of these:

    1. Righteousness and justice: righteousness and justice are [in] the machon of Your dwelling.
    2. Charity: And He wore charity like armor, which must be in Aravos, which is closest to Hashem’s honor.
    3. Reservoirs of life: because with You is the source of life.
    4. Reservoirs of peace: and Hashem called peace to Him.
    5. Reservoirs of blessing: and he will carry a blessing from Hashem, indicating that blessings are close to Him.
    6. The souls of the righteous: and my master’s soul will be attached with a lifeline with Hashem, indicating that they are close to Him.
    7. The souls that will be created: because the soul which is before Me will envelop, and souls that I have made.
    8. The dew to be used for resurrection: You will save the rain of gift (which will resurrect).


In this level are also the angels (ofanim, serafim, holy chayos, and angels of service), and Hashem’s throne of honor, and Hashem dwells on top of them, as the verse says to praise Hashem, which rides atop aravos. We know that this is considered heaven, since the same word rochev – riding is used in the preceding verse which refers to aravos, and in another verse which   refers to Hashem as the One who rides in the heaven.


The Gemora says that darkness, clouds, and fog surround Hashem.


The Gemora challenges this from the verse which says that Hashem reveals all hidden things, knows what is in the dark, and has light dwelling with Him, indicating that there is no darkness around Him.


The Gemora answers that in the inner chambers there is no darkness, but in the outer chambers there is.






*           Adam HaRishon initially stood from the ground until the heavens. Upon sinning, HaShem placed His hand on Adam and diminished his stature.


The Chasam Sofer (Chulin) asks: One Gemora says that the circumference of the world is equivalent to a person’s journey around the world for five hundred years; yet the Rambam in his introduction to Mishnayos Seder Zeraim states that the world is precisely twenty-four thousand milin. How can these two different measurements be reconciled?


The Chasam Sofer goes to great lengths, with extraordinary calculations, illustrating how every word of Chazal is precise and accurate.


*           Ten items were created on the first day of creation; tohu and vohu were two of them. The Gemora states that tohu is a green line, which surrounds the entire world and darkness emerges from it.


Reb Yaakov Emden comments that it is evident from this Gemora that ‘darkness’ is something physical, not merely an absence of light.


There can be a distinction between the darkness in the night, which may be only an absence of sunlight and the darkness which was created during the Six Days of Creation. The darkness of the ninth plague was also not the regular darkness, but rather, one of a miracle.


Rabbi Sinclair says regarding the plague of darkness: The Torah describes the plague of darkness thus: “And there was darkness on the land of Egypt and the darkness removed the light.” When the Torah tells us the “the darkness removed the light” it means that darkness is not the absence of light, it means that darkness is a creation just as much as light is a creation. In the normal course of events, G-d allows light to push away the darkness. In the ninth plague, He chose to reverse nature’s polarity and it was the darkness that removed the light.


Rabbi Winston cites the Vilna Gaon: G-d said to Moshe, “Stretch out your hand towards Heaven, so that darkness will come over Egypt, a darkness which can be felt (vayamaish).” (Shemos 10:21)


What is a “darkness which can be felt”?


Why do we ask such a question? Because to us, darkness is merely that absence of light, the result, for example, of when the sun leaves our part of the world for another. However, the truth is that it is not so simple, as the Vilna Gaon (Gra) indicates: “There are some who say that light is an independent creation, and that darkness is an independent creation, not like those who say that darkness is just an absence of light. In truth, it is not like this, but rather, darkness is in fact an independent creation that is pushed away by light, and that’s the way The Holy One, Blessed is He, made nature. Therefore, here (in this plague), G-d changed nature, because it says, ‘a darkness which can be felt,’ which means that the darkness ‘pushed’ away the light, and not the light, the darkness (the root of the word ‘vayamaish ‘ is from ‘and he [Yehoshua] didn’t move (yamish) from his tent (Shemos 33:11)’.” (Kol Eliyahu, Bo 53)

In other words, says the Gra, the posuk means “a darkness that can move light.” A sefer called HaK’sav v’HaKabbalah on Parashas Bereishis also quotes the Gra saying that darkness is in fact an independent creation. However, the Radak seems to hold that darkness is the result of an absence of light.


The Talmud, which treats darkness as an “object,” seems to provide support for the Gra’s opinion: This is what it means to say: G-d called to the light and commanded it in the mitzvos of the day, and G-d called to the darkness and commanded it in the mitzvos of the night (Pesachim 2a) As well, the Talmud states that: We must mention the “trait” of night during the day blessings, and the “trait” of day during the evening blessings, to counter the heretics who claim that He who made the day did not also make the night. (Brochos 11b)


If darkness is only the absence of light, then how could the heretics think such a thing? We would only be dealing with one creation, the creation of light, and the lack of its presence. (Nevertheless, the Bach on theTur considers darkness to only be an absence of light, though there are so many proofs to support the Gra.)


*           The Gemora stated that there are various heavens and each one of them have different functions. In shechakim there are mills that grind manna to the righteous.


The Bnei Yisoschar quotes the Rama Mipano that in the World to come by the feast of the Livyasan, a jar of manna that was hidden in the times of Yoshiyahu will be taken out and the righteous will recite the blessing, “He who brought out the bread from the heavens” before eating the manna. Sefer Chasidim (1640) and the Zohar in Parshas Beshalach concur.


There are those that disagree and state that there is no blessing recited on eating manna because the purpose of a blessing is to separate the favorable portions of the food away from the parts which have an adverse effect; the manna that fell in the Wilderness was purely spiritual and it did not require any separation. Perhaps the Rama Mipano was only referring to the manna in the future.


Sefer Gan Raveh posits that perhaps the blessing of “mezonos” should be recited on the manna because the Torah records that it had a taste of dough mixed with honey.


Birkas Aharon writes that the Gemora Brochos (35a) rules that it is forbidden to derive pleasure from anything in this world without reciting a blessing beforehand. The manna, he says, was not from this world, and therefore did not require a blessing. (Sedeh Tzofim)




In discussing the construction and assembly of the Mishkan and its vessels with Betzalel, Rashi writes that Moshe initially suggested that the vessels should be built before the Mishkan itself. Betzalel disagreed and maintained that the structure should be constructed before its contents so that the utensils would have a place to rest upon their completion, a position to which Moshe subsequently acquiesced. Tosefos (Berachos 55a) notes that the wording of the verses in Parshas Terumah seems to support the opinion of Moshe, while the order used in Parshas Ki Sisa is in accord with Betzalel’s position.


I once read a beautiful explanation of the dispute between Moshe and Betzalel based on a comparison to a similar disagreement. The Gemora in Chagigah (12a) records that Beis Hillel claimed that the Earth was created before the Heavens, while Beis Shammai maintained the opposite. Beis Hillel issued a challenge strikingly similar to that of Betzalel, asking Beis Shammai whether it is customary for a person to first build an attic (the Heavens) and only afterward the house (Earth).

The Rogatchover explains that this dispute was over a more profound question: which has more importance, the means to accomplish a goal or the goal itself? The ultimate purpose of life is to earn a portion in the World to Come, yet the mechanism for doing so is the performance of mitzvos in this world. Beis Shammai focused on the goal and held that the Heavens were created first, while Beis Hillel argued that because it is impossible to get there without the proper means, the Earth was created first.


Similarly, the focus of our lives is to elevate and perfect our souls, but the mechanism for doing so is the observance of the Torah with our bodies. Initially, a person’s soul was dominant, but after Adam sinned the body became superior. The mystics write that although the Gemora rules in accordance with the opinion of Beis Hillel, in the Messianic era the law will be like the position of Beis Shammai.


We may symbolically explain that at present, the body (means) prevails and we follow the rulings of Beis Hillel. When Moshiach comes, the soul (purpose) will once again be dominant as it initially was, and we will conduct ourselves according to Beis Shammai. When the Jewish people enthusiastically accepted the Torah at Mount Sinai, they purified themselves to reach Adam’s pre-sin level (Shabbos 146a). This new state was brief in duration, as they lost it when they sinned with the golden calf.


With this introduction, we can now explain that the purpose of the Mishkan was the Divine Service which took place inside through its vessels, while the Mishkan itself merely represented the means to accomplish this goal. Moshe wasn’t present during the sin of the golden calf and didn’t recognize the spiritual decline which had befallen the people. As such, he instructed Betzalel to make the vessels and then the Mishkan as he had been instructed in Parshas Terumah before the sin of the golden calf, when the Jewish people were on a level to follow the opinion of Beis Shammai.


Betzalel, on the other hand, recognized what had transpired and knew that they were no longer able to conduct themselves on such a lofty plane. He therefore suggested following the order of Parshas Ki Sisa, which was given after the sin of the golden calf (Rashi 31:18). Moshe recognized the unfortunate truth behind Betzalel’s logic and conceded that his opinion was to be followed, remarking, “You were in the shadow of Hashem.” Moshe was hinting that, unlike himself, Betzalel had witnessed the national downfall during the sin of the golden calf when the people returned to living in Hashem’s “shadow” without a soul-dominated clarity of understanding, and therefore Beis Hillel’s logic once again prevailed!


 L’zecher Nishmas HaRav Raphael Dov ben HaRav Yosef Yechezkel Marcus O”H