The prophet Ezekiel contradicts the words of the
"Rav Judah said in
Rav's name: In truth, that man, Channaniah the son of Chezkiah by name, is to
be remembered for good; but for him, the
book of Ezekiel would have been hidden, for its words contradicted the
Torah. What did he do? Three hundred barrels of oil were taken up to him and he
sat in an upper chamber and reconciled them." Tractate Shabbat 13b.
In this essay we have come
to show you the grave contradictions which exist between the book of the
prophet Ezekiel and what is written in the Torah! More important yet is that
the method through which Chazal reconciled these contradictions is strange,
odd, and inconsistent. (How Channaniah the son of Chezkiah reconciled them is
known to none, as R' David Kimchi wrote on Ezekiel 45:20, "And it is said
'remember [him] for good, Channaniah the son of Chezkiah the son of Garon by
name; but for him, the book of Ezekiel
would have been hidden…And how Channaniah
reconciled this we do not know anymore.") We have already written
in Pamphlet 8
that the Holy Writ was canonized by the Sages. Therefore they had to reconcile
the contradictions between the various books. But so strange are their
deductions that we wonder why they had to take three hundred barrels of oil up
to Channaniah the son of Chezkiah. Using the way Chazal chose to reconcile the
contradictions and discrepancies, all are reconciled through a wave of the hand
-- so a small candle should have sufficed Channaniah the son of Chezkiah, as
you who seeks truth, will see in this essay.
And these are some of the contradictions between
the words of the prophet Ezekiel and the words of the Torah:
1. The prophet Ezekiel devotes more than a chapter
to the punishment which will be given the sinner himself, and thus he says (Ezekiel 18:4), "The person
who sins, only he shall die," and even more, in verse 20, "The person
who sins, he alone shall die. A child shall not share the burden of a parent's
guilt, nor shall a parent share the burden of a child's guilt." Also see
In the Torah, though, it is explicitly written
(Exodus 20:4) that G-d "visit[s] the guilt of the parents upon the
Thus do our rabbis reconcile the contradiction
(Makkot 24a): "Moses said (Exodus 20:4), 'visits[s] the guilt of the
parents upon the children' and Ezekiel came and overturned that (Ezekiel 18:4), 'The person who sins, only he shall
How marvelous. What a wonderful reconciliation. That's
a simple and reasonable explanation for you: Moses our teacher wrote what G-d
said at Sinai and Ezekiel overturned it. For this reconciliation they had to
send up three hundred barrels of oil?
Know that this contradiction is found even within
the Torah itself, for in Deuteronomy (24:16) it is written, "Parents shall
not be put to death for children, nor children be put to death for parents: a
person shall be put to death only for his own crime." The Gemara in
Sanhedrin 27b reconciles the contradiction: "'visit[s] the guilt of the
parents upon the children'! On those who continue their fathers' deeds."
That is, the children are punished (for their parents' guilt?) when they
continue to sin. See Ibn Ezra on Exodus 20:4, who went on at length about the
reconciliation of contradictions.
Yet, despite the verses found in Ezekiel and
Deuteronomy, we find that our rabbis say that children are punished for their
parents' sins. In the Gemara in Shabbat 32b it is written, "For the sin of
[unfulfilled] vows one's children die young," and thus writes R' David
Kimchi on Ezekiel 18:6, "And when [Ezekiel] said that the child will not
bear the parents' sin, he meant when the child is grown, for such a one
deserves punishment and reward of his own, but small children die for their
parents' sins." Similarly, Rashi wrote on Deuteronomy 24:16, "Every
man shall be put to death for his own sin, but one who is not yet a man
[proper] dies for the iniquity of his father, so minors die for the iniquity of
their parents at the hand of Heaven." This interpretation prompts
amazement: "Parents eat sour grapes and their children's teeth are
blunted?" (Ezekiel 18:2) speaks only of grown children, above the age of
13, and from this we see that Divine justice is to kill babies who have never sinned
in punishment of their parents' acts. Reason will not tolerate this
2. Ezekiel 20:8-10: "But they defied Me and
refused to listen to Me. They did not cast aside the detestable things they
were drawn to, nor did they give up the fetishes of Egypt. Then I resolved to
pour out My fury upon them there, in the land of Egypt. But I acted for
the sake of My name…to bring them out of the land of Egypt. I brought them out of the land of Egypt and I led
them into the wilderness."
The Torah, though, reads in Exodus 4:31: "And
the people were convinced. When they heard
that the Lord had taken note of the Israelites and that He had seen their
plight, they bowed low in homage." Know that this verse speaks of when
they were still in Egypt, before the plagues which descended upon the
According to the prophet Ezekiel, despite the wickedness of the Children of Israel the Lord
took them out of Egypt, and did so only for the sake of His name, while we
conclude from the Torah that the Children of Israel believed in G-d. How do our
rabbis reconcile this contradiction?
From Midrash Tanchuma (Buber edition) on the portion
of Ba'alotcha, paragraph 13, it seems that Ezekiel spoke about the wicked
portion of the nation and the Torah spoke of the believing portion. It says
there: "When Israel was in Egypt they despised the Torah and circumcision
and were all idolaters, for Ezekiel reproves them… and that is what the
[prophet] says at the end, 'But they defied Me and refused to listen to Me.
They did not cast aside the detestable things they were drawn to, nor did they
give up the fetishes of Egypt' (Ezekiel 20:8). So what did the holy One,
blessed be He, do? He brought darkness on Egypt for three days and
during that time killed all the wicked of Israel."
According to R' David Kimchi (Ezekiel 20:9) the
contradiction is settled thus: "For when Moses our teacher OBM came to
them on G-d's mission they did not continue their evil deeds, for it is
written, 'And the people were convinced. When they heard that the Lord had
taken note of the Israelites,' and they believed in Moses because of the
wonders he did before them."
Both explanations are strange. According to both,
Ezekiel should not have said that G-d took the Children of Israel out of Egypt
only "for the sake of His name." Look: either the Children of Israel
repented, as R' David Kimchi says, or the wicked were killed during the plague
of darkness as the Midrash Tanchuma has it. In either case, it was the
righteous who left Egypt…
3. Ezekiel 20:13: But the House of Israel rebelled
against Me in the wilderness; they did not follow My laws and they rejected My
rules -- by the pursuit of which a man shall live -- and they grossly
desecrated My sabbaths. Then I thought to pour out My fury upon them in the wilderness
and to make an end of them."
Ezekiel 20:21: "They profaned My sabbaths. Then
I resolved to pour out My fury upon them, to vent all My anger upon them, in
If so, the issue of the nation's desecrating Sabbath
is the reason G-d wishes to pour out His fury and anger upon them. But it seems
from the Torah that the holy One, blessed be He, wanted to pour out His anger
upon the Children of Israel for other reasons, primarily due to the sin of the
spies, but not because of the desecration of Sabbath. Numbers 14:12: "I
will strike them with pestilence and disown them, and I will make of you a
nation far more numerous than they." Similarly, in Numbers 14:29, "In
this very wilderness shall your carcasses drop. Of all of you who were recorded
in your various lists from the age of twenty years up, you who have muttered
But in the section about the manna, when the nation
went out gathering on Sabbath, no punishment seeking to destroy the Children of
Israel is mentioned. Exodus 16:28-29: "And the Lord said to Moses, 'How
long will you men refuse to obey My commandments and My teachings? Mark that
the Lord has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you two days' food on
the sixth day. Let everyone remain where he is: let no man leave his place on
the seventh day."
This is no Heavenly punishment for desecrating the
sabbath but a compensation, giving a double portion of manna from the Heavens
on the sixth day.
4. Ezekiel 20:25-26: "Moreover, I gave them
laws that were not good and rules by which they could not live. When they
passed every first issue of the womb, I defiled them by their very gifts --
that I might render them desolate, that they might know that I am the
What a horrible thing the prophet says: the holy
One, blessed be He, purposefully gave the Children of Israel laws which were
not good so that they could not live by them. We also find from the text that
in Ezekiel's period it was customary in Israel to pass the firstborns through
fire (as in idolatry), and this they did by Divine command.
What did our rabbis say about this? Of course, they
changed the plain meaning of the text.
Midrash Tanchuma (Warsaw edition), the portion of
Mishpatim, paragraph three: "'For the laws of the nations are delusions'
(Jeremiah 10:3), and it is written 'Moreover, I gave them laws that were not
good and rules by which they could not live' (Ezekiel 20:25), but to Israel I
gave good commandments and laws, as it is written (Leviticus 18:5), 'You shall
keep My laws and My rules, by the pursuit of which man shall live'."
According to Midrash Tanchuma, the verse refers to
the gentiles and not to the Children of Israel, and this is an odd method of
interpretation common amongst Chazal. "If it cannot be interpreted as
referring to Israel, it must be referring to the gentiles." And you, the
student who seeks knowledge, look in the book of Ezekiel in chapter 20 and see
that there is no way that anyone is referred to here other than the nation of
Israel. The matters are very clear and this midrash hasn't a leg to stand upon.
R' David Kimchi on Ezekiel 20:25: "'Moreover, I
gave them laws that were not good' -- since they despised My laws I gave them
to their enemies to place upon them laws which would not be as good for them as
My laws, had they followed them. The laws their enemies placed upon them are
the taxes they placed upon them each and every year and various other labors.
'And rules by which they could not live' -- That their enemies will place upon
them rules and decrees by which they cannot live, but will die. Had they
followed My rules they would have lived, as is written, 'by the pursuit of
which man shall live'."
R' David Kimchi has a method of interpretation
similar to that of Chazal, but instead of changing the receptors of the laws
which are not good (from Israel to the gentiles, as does Midrash Tanchuma), R'
David Kimchi changes the givers of the laws which are not good: it wasn't G-d
who gave the (bad) laws to the Children of Israel, but the gentiles. There is
no end to the strangeness.
These are the contradictions in the measurements
of the Temple and its work:
Anyone who reads the book of the prophet Ezekiel
from chapter 40 until the end will immediately see that the measurements of the
Temple and its vessels do not at all resemble the measurements of the First Temple nor of the Second Temple. (In the
portion of Teruma we clarified our rabbis' opinion, how the
First Temple did not use the measurements of the Sanctuary and its vessels and
the Second Temple did not use the measurements of the First Temple and its
vessels, and the Third Temple will not be as the Second Temple and its vessels.
We found that the words of the Torah about the building of the Sanctuary, which
are detailed over the course of six chapters and are repeated over another six
chapters, are excessive and idle things which contain no rules for future
How do our rabbis settle the contradictions? This is
very simple. You found a difficulty? Immediately say: "This speaks about
the future." We have already written in many places that it is our rabbis'
way to push their testimony off to the distant future. In the portion of Ekev
the Torah promises reward for one who fulfills the commandment of honoring
one's parents. The promised reward is "So that your days shall be
lengthened…upon the earth." But many people who honor their parents do not
live long lives at all. Chazal explained "So that your days shall be
lengthened" as "a day which is lengthier than anything," the
World to Come (there they will receive their reward). Why does it explicitly
say "upon the earth"? On this Chazal were silent and did not
explain…Thus they did many times, and the same is the case with Ezekiel's prophecy
regarding the Holy Temple.
Therefore we were so surprised that Channaniah the
son of Chezkiah needed 300 barrels of oil in that upper chamber of his. On the
way up the steps he could have reconciled all the contradictions by saying that
all in Ezekiel which contradicts the Torah speaks about the future.
Thus it is written in Seder
Olam Rabbah (Milikowski edition), chapter 26: "'In the twenty-fifth year
of our exile, the fourteenth year after the city had fallen, at the beginning
of the year, the tenth of the month, on that very day -- the hand of the Lord
came upon me and He brought me there' (Ezekiel 40:1). At that same time the
holy One, blessed be He, showed Ezekiel the form of the future Temple."
How wonderful! A prophet
prophesizes at the height of exile, in the twenty-fifth year of Jehoiachin, more
than fifty years before the building of the Second Temple and under the
explicit command: "Report everything you see to the House of Israel"
(Ezekiel 40:4). And he brings, in an explicit and detailed manner, the measurements
of the Temple and its vessels and the order of its service. Is there any hint
that these measurements and this order of service is not meant for the Temple
which will be built in another fifty years? Of course not! It is absolutely
clear that the prophet heralds the building of the Second Temple and gives its
precise measurements as he received them straight from the Majesty.
It is interesting to
speculate on what the people of the House of Israel thought when on the one
hand they read the prophecy of Ezekiel and on the other hand they built the
Second Temple in a way completely different from his prophecy…
See something interesting.
On one hand, Ezekiel's prophecy is not like the First Temple or the Second, as
R' David Kimchi wrote (Ezekiel 40:47), "'He then measured the forecourt:
100 cubits long and 100 cubits broad--foursquare' -- This was not the Second
Temple, because the length of the Israelite's court was 135 by a width of 11,
and so the priests' court."
But on the other hand, our
rabbis did learn from Ezekiel about the building of the Second Temple (Mishnah,
Tractate Tamid, chapter three, mishnah seven): "The great gate had two
wickets, one to the north and one to the south. Through the southern one no man
ever entered, as is explicitly written by Ezekiel (44:2), 'And the Lord said to
me: This gate is to be kept shut and is not to be opened! No one shall entered
by it because the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it
shall remain shut'."
Thus writes R' David Kimchi
(Ezekiel 40:5), "Those who returned from exile built the building as was
seen in Ezekiel's vision of the future in some particulars."
R' David Kimchi wrote
(Ezekiel 40:13): "And in truth, these measurements of the building are not
clear to us, for they belong to a future building, and what a man deduces them
to be is not reliable, and what we find about them in tradition, in Tractate
Middot or in Targum Yonatan is acceptable, but the rest should be left alone
until Elijah comes, and thus did our rabbis of blessed memory say, that some of
the particulars of this prophecy are meant for the future and Elijah will come
to explain them, that we do not know how to explain them."
So you see how our rabbis
treat the prophecy of Ezekiel as their own, when they wish to learn about the
Second Temple they do, and when they wish they interpret it as referring to the
future, and when they wish, they leave it to Elijah to interpret at the end of
This is again a sign that
we do not live according to the Prophets but according to the opinions and
deductions of the Sages, as we have already written in Pamphlet 8
and the essay on prophecy.
summarizes our relationship to Ezekiel's prophecy (Maimonides, Laws of the Holy
Temple, chapter one, halacha four): "The building built by Solomon is
detail in Kings and the building which is to be built in the future, though it
is written in Ezekiel, is not detailed and explicit, and the people of the
Second Temple period, when they built in it the time of Ezra, built it
according to Solomon's building and some of the explicit particulars in Ezekiel."
That is: The Second Temple
is a kind of hybrid of the First Temple and the Temple of the future, which is
not detailed and not explicit. What about the prophecy of Ezekiel, who saw a
Divine vision? They took a smattering and no more.
Thus Maimonides wrote in
Laws of Sacrifices 2:14: "The measures of the libations said in the book
of Ezekiel and the count of those sacrifices and the order of worship written
there are all supplements and are not to be practiced forever. The prophet
commanded and explained how they would make the supplemental sacrifices for the
dedication of the altar at the time of the Messiah King, when the Third Temple
will be built." We have already mentioned this issue in the portion of Tetzave.
We have labored and found
that Chazal did reconcile one contradiction between the words of Ezekiel and
the words of the Torah. The son of Channaniah the son of Chezkiah is quoted in
Sifrei Devarim, paragraph 294: "Elezar the son of Channaniah the son of
Chezkiah the son of Garon says: it says,
'an ephah [a measure equaling three seah] for each bull,
an ephah for each ram, an ephah for each lamb' (Ezekiel 46:11;
the Masoretic text reads, "an ephah for each bull, an ephah
for each ram, and for the lambs"). Are the measurements the same for
bulls, rams, and lambs? Has it not already been said, "three-tenths of a
measure for a bull, two-tenths for a ram, and one-tenth [of an ephah]
for each of the seven lambs" (Numbers 29:3)? This teaches that both the
large ephah and the small ephah are call ephah'." He
came to explain and right away went astray of "Differing weights and
differing measures -- the Lord detests them both" (Proverbs 20:10).
And what did Rashi write about this in his commentary? On Ezekiel
45:24: "A meal offering of an ephah for each bull -- a libation
meal offering. 'An ephah for each bull' -- I do not know what this is.
The Torah has said that it is three-tenths for a bull. It should be said an ephah
of flour is meant, from which one can obtain one-tenth of a seah of
semolina, for the ephah is three seah." Similarly, in Rashi
on I Samuel 1:24, "'And one ephah of flour' -- I have heard in the
name of Rabbeynu Isaac HaLevi that one ephah of flour is mentioned
[because] it contains three seah, from which three-tenths of semolina,
appropriate for the bull, can be obtained."
So you learn that the ephah
mentioned in Ezekiel is a very, very strange ephah. In that "ephah
of flour" the flour is semolina and the ephah is one-tenth of
an ephah. They are making a joke of us here.
Here is another example
from Rashi (on Ezekiel 46:4): "'On the Sabbath day [the burnt offering
shall consist of] six lambs'--I do not know why, for the Torah said two lambs
(Numbers 28:9). Yet, 'the Sabbath' can mean both the Sabbath of Creation [the
seventh day of each week] and a holiday; and I say that this Sabbath is not the
Sabbath of Creation but a holiday which requires seven lambs and two rams. This
teaches you they do not hold each other back, and if one cannot find seven
lambs, he brings six, and if he did not find two rams he brings one, as our
sages have said on the issue of the new month."
Thus, according to Rashi,
is the verse in Ezekiel which contradicts the Torah to be interpreted:
"Sabbath" is "holiday," "six" is
"seven," and if he can't find them, he should bring six. (And if he
can't find six? May he bring five?) There is no end to nonsensical
These are some of the
strangest things. Why didn't those who were making reconcilliations simply
write that the meal offering measurements written in Ezekiel are for the
future, just as R' David Kimchi wrote (on Ezekiel 45:22): "On the meal
offering it is said an ephah for a bull, an ephah for a ram, with
a hin of oil for each ephah. In the Torah it is written
'three-tenths of a measure for a bull, two-tenths for a ram, and one-tenth for
a lamb' -- so we have no explanation but to say that the sacrifices will be
different in the future." Long live the future, which solves all the
contradictions of the present.
We have not bothered to
write all the contradictions about the Temple and its vessels, for they are too
numerous to mention and we rely upon he who chooses to look.
We have only brought the method through which our
rabbis reconcile the contradictions to show you that all means are fair. Once
we will say it speaks about the future, once that the Sabbath is a holiday,
that six is seven, that an ephah is
one-tenth of an ephah -- everything goes when it comes to
are the contradictions in the laws of the priestly service:
1. Ezekiel 44:17: "And
when they enter the gates of the inner court, they shall wear linen vestments; they
shall have nothing woolen upon them when they minister inside the gates of
the inner court." Rashi explains (on Ezekiel 10:3): "The inner court
-- this is the 'azarah."
But in Exodus 28:31-36:
"You shall make the robe of the ephod of pure techelet…when he
comes into the sanctuary." Rashi (on Exodus 25:4) explains: "Techelet
is a wool." Similarly wrote Maimonides in Laws of the Temple Vessels,
chapter eight, halacha 13: "Whenever techelet is mentioned, it is
This is a contradiction. In
the Torah it is written that the High Priest is permitted, and even obligated,
to wear a coat made of wool, and the prophet Ezekiel forbids this. What do our
rabbis say about this?
Rashi (on Ezekiel 44:17):
"'The gates of the inner court' -- before and within on the Day of
Atonement. 'They shall have nothing woolen upon them' -- the techelet
which was in the coat and sash should not be worn on the Day of Atonement for
the work inside."
What a tasty treat. Once
Rashi explains that the inner court is the 'azarah, and when that
doesn't work, the inner court suddenly becomes the Holy of Holies!
R' David Kimchi, who
noticed this flawed explanation, wrote (on Ezekiel 44:17): "'And when they
enter the gates of the inner court' -- if we say the inner court in its plain
meaning, it would mean the gateway to the priests' court and the altar, and
from there to the gate of the outer hall, for it is all the court. This
[prohibition against wool] is then an innovation for the future, for the
priestly vestments which were used were of wool, as written in Moses' Torah,
that techelet is wool dyed blue. If we say that this is about the
service of the High Priest on the Day of Atonement, before and within, for he
worked in linen vestments, how is dvir called the court when it is the
building and how can it be said 'when they come,' which is plural, and that
service was only on the part of the High Priest, he alone went in there and
only on the Day of Atonement." Good questions, but there are no answers
(except for that perennial "for the future").
2. Ezekiel 44:20:
"They shall neither shave their heads nor let their hair go untrimmed;
they shall keep their hair trimmed."
But in the Torah there is
no commandment to the priests not to shave their heads, and this prohibition is
only mentioned in regard to days of mourning (Leviticus 21:5): "They shall
not shave smooth [over the dead -- Rashi] their heads or cut the side-growth of
their beards or make gashes in their flesh." So, too, the growth of hair
during the time Aaron, Eleazar, and Itamar mourned (Leviticus 10:6): "And
Moses said to Aaron and to his sons Eleazar and Itamar, do not dishevel your
Ezekiel forbids shaving the
priests' heads, which is not mentioned in the Torah, and you ought to know that
there is no halachic prohibition against priests shaving their heads, even if
they enter the Temple. Then why did Ezekiel say they should not shave their
Rashi (on Ezekiel 44:20)
explained: "'They shall neither shave their heads' -- to remove all
hair." It seems he meant that the prohibition mentioned in Ezekiel is the
same as that mentioned in Leviticus 19:27: "You shall not round off the side-growth
of your head." Even if we accept this odd interpretation, the prohibition
against rounding off the side-growth of the head applies to the Israelites and
not just to the priests. What does he do with the rest of the verse, "they
shall keep their hair trimmed"? Chazal said, in Tractate Nedarim 51a, the
haircut had to have "each hair end at the root of the next hair, which is
the High Priest's haircut."
A perfect fit. If so,
according to our rabbis, thus is the verse in Ezekiel which contradicts the
words of the Torah to be interpreted: "They [all the priests] shall
neither shave their heads [shall shave their heads, but not round off the
side-growth of their heads]…they shall keep their hair trimmed [this refers to
the High Priest only, and 'They' should read 'He' in the singular]."
3. Ezekiel 44:22:
"They shall not marry widows or divorced women; they may marry only
virgins of the stock of the House of Israel, or widows who are widows of
On the other hand, in
Leviticus 21:7 it is written: "They shall not marry a woman defiled by
harlotry, nor shall they marry one divorced from her husband. For they are holy
to their G-d."
Come, wise student, and see
how many contradictions there are between the texts. In Ezekiel there is no
mention at all of a prohibition against harlots nor one on the child of an
improper relationship, but there is mention of a prohibition against an
Israelite widow which is not mentioned in the Torah.
Thus say our rabbis (Kiddushin 88b):
"Rav Nachman said to Rava: Does this verse, 'They shall not marry widows
or divorced women…they may marry…widows who are widows of priests,' refer at
the start to the High Priest and at the end to an ordinary priest?' Rava
answered: Yes. [Rav Nachman asked:] But is it possible that the text speaks about
a different person without explicitly noting the change? [Rava] answered him:
Yes, as it is in I Samuel 3:3, 'The lamp of G-d had not yet gone out, and
Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord' -- yet, only kings of the House
of David are allowed to sit in the Temple court; but this is what the Scripture
meant: 'The lamp of G-d had not yet gone out in the temple of the Lord, and
Samuel was sleeping in his place [outside the court].' [So, returning to the
verse of Ezekiel 44:22:] Does 'they may marry…widows of priests' mean that
priests may marry widows of priests but not of ordinary Israelites? No, for
'marry…of priests' means that any of the ordinary priests may marry [an
Israelite's widow, as opposed to the High Priest]."
Thus does Rava interpret the
verse before us: "They [the High Priest--it should say 'he'] shall not
marry widows or divorced women; they may marry only virgins of the stock of the
House of Israel, or [not the High Priest, ordinary priests only] widows who are
widows [not necessarily] of priests [but also of Israelites]."
It is amazing how this
verse is taken out of context and totally turned on its head. Ibn Ezra on
Daniel 1:1 writes: "How is it possible in a human language that a man
would speak one word and mean another? One who supposes so would be considered
a madman...It would be better were he to say I do not know rather than change
the words of the living G-d." Yet, here Rava claims that the Scripture
says certain things and means the opposite. One who hears this is deafened.
This teaches you once again
that our rabbis do not live according to the Scriptures but the opposite, the
Scriptures are interpreted and distorted over the generations according to
Chazal's whims and their wishes.
Those commentators who
stick to the text, like R' David Kimchi, have a different way of getting free
of this maze. R' Kimchi on Ezekiel 44:22: "'Widow'--if this is said about
every priest, it is an added measure of holiness for the future." As
usual, the future saves us from all problems.
4. Ezekiel 44:26:
"After he has become clean, seven days shall be counted off for him."
But the Torah does not
mention at all the issue of counting seven days after the purification. Numbers
19:14: "This is the ritual: When a person dies in a tent, whoever enters
that tent and whoever is in the tent shall be unclean seven days."
How do our rabbis explain this contradiction?
Tractate Moed Katan 15b: "May a leper offer a sacrifice? Come hear--It is
taught (Ezekiel 44:26) 'After he has become clean'--after he has separated from
the dead, seven days are counted off for him--these are the seven days of his
Thus is the verse
interpreted by Chazal: "After he has become clean" means after he has
separated from the dead (even though he is still impure due to contact with a
dead body to all intents and purposes, the Scripture calls him pure?!) they
count the seven days for the sprinkling. How did our rabbis learn the laws of a
leper from this? Rashi wrote that since the Scriptural text uses the term
"counting" and not "sprinkling" we see another thing, that
one must count seven days if he contracted leprosy and was healed. What is a
leper doing in the middle of a discussion of priestly matters?
The Tosafot, s.v. acharei
taharato explicitly noted that the verse speaks of two issues, one of the
impurity of an ordinary priest and the second of a leper. "Issue after
issue is written," in the words of the Tosafot. (See the Tosafot, where
they asked why Chazal did not interpret the verse as speaking of the High
Priest as the one who must count seven extra days after the seven days of
sprinkling, for then there would be no contradiction with what is written in
the Torah, where it is only spoken of an ordinary priest. Really, it is a great
Thus wrote R' David Kimchi
on Ezekiel 44:26: "'After he has become clean'--perhaps this speaks of the
future, of an additional purity, that after he has become purified at the end
of seven days they will count another seven days for him, but our rabbis OBM
interpreted it without novelties and read 'after he has become clean' as
meaning after he has separated from the dead." Perhaps it is about the
future and perhaps not--but a reasonable answer is there none.
5. Ezekiel 44:31:
"Priests shall not eat anything, whether bird or animal, that died or was
torn by beasts." Specifically the priests? All of Israel is forbidden to
eat creatures that died or were torn by beasts! Our rabbis explained, in
Tractate Menachot 45a, that Ezekiel had to specify priests so that we should
not think they were permitted to eat dead or torn animals, as the Scriptures do
permit them to eat birds which were killed not by ritual slaughter but by
wringing the neck. But this is a weak excuse. Would it have been difficult for
Ezekiel to write, " Priests and the people of Israel shall not eat"?
Then he would not have risked making the reader err, as happened to R'
Jochanan, who said of this contradiction (Menachot 42a): "Elijah will
explain this section in the future."
The prophet Ezekiel knew
the First Temple, its order of service, the laws of the priesthood and of the
land. When he was exiled the Temple still stood and all its rituals were
observed. While he was in Babylon, in the period before the Return to Zion and
the building of the Second Temple, the prophet Ezekiel wrote the words of the
Torah, the laws, the service of the priests, and the measurements of the Temple
from what he knew and recognized. Yet a great deal of his words differ from
what is written in the Mosaic Torah. How is this possible? Was the Mosaic Torah
in Ezekiel's day different from that of our days? Did the prophet decide to
write his own Torah? This is a thorny issue. On the one hand we have a prophet,
on the other, the Mosaic Torah. Chazal had to reconcile the differences between
these two at any price. Therefore, as can be seen from everything we have
written, to reconcile the contradictions between Ezekiel and the words of the
Torah our rabbis grabbed onto whatever they could find. Either "it was
said about the future," or they took words out of context and put them
elsewhere, or they simply distorted the meaning of the text.
To further illustrate our
words, we saw fit to quote what was written in Tractate Menachot 45a:
"'Thus said the Lord G-d: on the first day of the first month, you shall
take a bull of the herd without blemish, and you shall cleanse [chiteta]
the Sanctuary' (Ezekiel 45:18). 'Cleanse' means that a guilt-offering [chatat]
must be brought. But it is a burnt offering! R' Jochanan said: Elijah will
explain this section in the future. Rav Ashi said: They made additional
sacrifices in the days of Ezra, just as they did in the days of Moses. The
Baraita also teaches this. R' Judah said: Elijah will explain this section
in the future. R' Yosi said to him: They made additional sacrifices in the
days of Ezra, just as they did in the days of Moses. He said to him: Your
opinion supercedes mine. 'Priests shall not eat anything, whether bird or
animal, that died or was torn by beasts' (Ezekiel 44:31). Priests shall not,
but Israelites may? R' Jochanan said: Elijah will explain this section in
the future. Ravina said: It had to specify priests lest one say that since
they are allowed to eat birds killed by wringing their necks, they may also be
allowed dead or torn animals. 'You shall do the same on the seventh day of the
month [chodesh] to purge the Temple from uncleanness caused by unwitting
or ignorant persons' (Ezekiel 45:20). R' Jochanan said: These are the
seven tribes who sinned, even though they are not most of the public. Chodesh--if
they innovated [chidshu] something wrong, [e.g.] said that [forbidden]
tallow is permitted. Unwitting or ignorant persons--this teaches that we are
not responsible for mere forgetfulness, only for unwitting acts. R' Judah said
that Rav said: Remember that man for good, Channaniah the son of Chezkiah is
his name; but for him, the book of
Ezekiel would have been hidden, for its words contradicted the Torah. What did
he do? Three hundred barrels of oil were taken up to him and he sat in an upper
chamber and reconciled them."
You, the student who seeks knowledge
and the truth, pay attention to the words of R' Jochanan. There are verses
about which he requires the interpretation of Elijah at the end of days, while
the verse 'You shall do the same on the seventh day of the month' he did not
hesitate to distort and deform. The word 'seven,' a date, he turned into seven
tribes, and the word 'month' he turned into a innovation which the Sanhedrin
instituted in permitting the forbidden tallow. He treats the Scripture as he
wishes, and any reasonable persons who study such interpretations will find
that they are null and void. Therefore we wonder why it was necessary to take
"three hundred barrels of oil" up to Channaniah the son of Chezkiah,
for any beginning student could settle contradictions given enough freedom to
do with the Scriptures as he wishes, as the Sages do. We have shown in this
essay that their explanations are not reasonable at all and the questions
Those who believe that Ezekiel's
words refer to the Third Temple worry about whether we will know how to build
it, as the prophet did not specify everything and his words are not clear
enough. (According to Chazal's interpretation Ezekiel did not speak clearly.
Sometimes he began a sentence speaking about an ordinary priest and ended with
a High Priest and sometimes the inner court is the 'azarah and sometimes
it's the Holy of Holies, etc.) As R' David Kimchi wrote on Ezekiel 40:13,
"And in truth, these measurements of the building are not clear to us, for
they belong to a future building. What one deduces them to be is not reliable;
only what we find about them in tradition, in Tractate Middot or in Targum
Yonatan, is acceptable, but the rest should be left alone until Elijah comes."
Third Temple fans, don't
worry. Even though there is debate about who will build the Temple -- according
to Rashi in Tractate Sukkah 41a, "The Third Temple which we anticipate is
built and refined, it will be revealed by the Heavens, as is said,
(Exodus 15) "The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands established,"
while Maimonides, in Laws of Kings, chapter 11, halacha 1, writes: "The
Messiah King will in the future rise and return the kingdom of David to its
glory and initial reign, will build the Temple, and will gather in the
exiles of Israel." For we hope that when the holy One, blessed be He,
brings the Temple down from the heavens and the Messiah builds it on the earth,
Elijah (may he be remembered for good) will also come and reconcile all the
contradictions between Ezekiel's prophecy and the Mosaic Torah.
Words of True Knowledge