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PERMANENTLY CHOSEN

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Until Jerusalem was chosen, all of the Land of Israel was fit for altars; once Jerusalem was chosen, the rest of the Holy Land was excluded.” --Mechilta. * On the Laws of the Holy Temple.

by Bing AI

According to Rambam, "Once the Temple was built in Jerusalem, it became forbidden to build a sanctuary for God or to offer sacrifices in any other place. There is no Sanctuary for all generations except in Jerusalem and [specifically,] on Mt. Moriah" [Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 1:3]. This law emphasizes the unique status of Jerusalem as the chosen location for the Temple and prohibits the construction of a Temple or the offering of sacrifices in any other location.


The commentary of Mahari Kurkus and Radbaz further explains that once Jerusalem was chosen, all other locations were no longer permitted for offering sacrifices. The sanctity of Jerusalem is considered eternal, and it is not fitting to sanctify any other place. As they write, "Shiloh had permission afterwards, but Jerusalem had no permission after its sanctity" [Commentary on Rambam's laws of the holy temple chapter 1 law 3]. This commentary adds to our understanding by explaining that even though Shiloh was once a permitted location for offering sacrifices, once Jerusalem was chosen as the permanent location for the Temple, all other locations, including Shiloh, were no longer permitted.


The Mechilta teaches that "until Jerusalem was chosen, all of the Land of Israel was fit for altars; once Jerusalem was chosen, the rest of the Holy Land was excluded" [Mechilta]. Similarly, until the eternal house (the Temple) was chosen, all of Jerusalem was fit for the Shechinah (Divine Presence), but once the eternal house was chosen, only that location was fit for the Shechinah. Before Jerusalem was chosen as the permanent location for the Temple, it was permissible to offer sacrifices in any location within the Land of Israel. However, once Jerusalem was chosen as the permanent location for the Temple, all other locations within the Land of Israel were no longer permitted.


Tosafot also discuss this topic in their commentary on Megillah. They explain that even according to the one who says that it did not sanctify for the future, it is called eternal sanctity since it is not fitting to return and sanctify except for that place [Tosafot on Megillah]. This commentary adds to our understanding by explaining that even if one were to argue that the sanctity of Jerusalem did not extend into the future, it would still be considered eternally sanctified because it is not fitting to sanctify any other place as a permanent location for the Temple.

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