Special Topics

  1. Only For the Sake of the Temple Did They Merit to Receive the Land of Israel -Vilna Gaon on Deut. 26:9
  2. Why the Holocaust ?
  3. Torah Codes by Professor Daniel Michelson
  4. The Task of the Spy, Eli Cohen, H”YD. – A Torah Hint About This
  5. Monotheism Vs. The Outlook That Everything is G-d
    An Article Against The Attempt To Deify The Rebbe Of Lubavitch, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson
  6. Issues Involving The Ascent To The Temple Mount – An Exchange Of Letters Between S. Scheinman and Rabbi Avigdor Neventzal
  7. The Location of the Temple on the Temple Mount and Other Temple Related Issues
  8. Argaman – An English version of the halachic article that appeared in Techumin, Vol. 26
  9. Why G-d Let Bin-Laden Succeed!
  10. When Is It Permitted to Bow to Men and When Is Bowing Forbidden Intermediary Worship , According to Rabbeinu Nissim

You are invited to visit our blog home page at https://vilnagaon.org/blog/ Below is a sample of our blog posts.

Herod in An Attempt to Atone For His Sins (Or To Give the Appearance of An Attempt), Rebuilt the Temple Without Official Permission from Rome

The Wikipedia Model of the Second Temple

Talmud, Bava Batra 3b and 4a as translated by https://www.sefaria.org.il/Bava_Batra.3b.16?lang=en&with=all&lang2=en

The Temple that Had Been Built Previously Needed Repairs

The Gemara asks: How could Bava ben Buta have advised Herod to raze the Temple and build another in its place, as will be described later? But doesn’t Rav Ḥisda say that a person must not demolish a synagogue unless he first builds another synagogue to take its place? The Gemara answers: If you wish, say that he saw cracks in the old Temple structure. And if you wish, say that actions taken by the government are different, as the government does not go back on its decisions. Therefore, there is no need to be concerned about negligence, as there is in the case of ordinary people. As Shmuel says: If the government says it will uproot mountains, it will uproot mountains and not retract its word. § The Gemara elaborates on the episode involving Bava ben Buta.

Herod Started Out as A Slave Who Rebelled Against His Jewish Masters

Herod was a slave in the house of the Hasmoneans. He set his eyes upon a certain young girl from the house of the Hasmoneans. One day that man, Herod, heard a Divine Voice that said: Any slave who rebels now will succeed. He rose up and killed all his masters, but spared that girl. When that girl saw that he wanted to marry her, she went up to the roof and raised her voice, and said: Whoever comes and says: I come from the house of the Hasmoneans, is a slave, since only that girl, i.e., I, remained from them. And that girl fell from the roof to the ground and died. It is related that Herod preserved the girl’s body in honey for seven years to prevent it from decaying. There are those who say that he engaged in necrophilia with her corpse and there are those who say he did not engage in necrophilia with her corpse. According to those who say he engaged in necrophilia with her corpse, the reason that he preserved her body was to gratify his carnal desires. And according to those who say he did not engage in necrophilia with her corpse, the reason that he preserved her body was so that people would say he married a king’s daughter.

Herod Kills Most of the Sages but Spares Bava ben Buta

Herod said to himself: Who expounds the verse: “One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you” (Deuteronomy 17:15) as meaning that he who is appointed as king must come from a Jewish family and cannot be an emancipated slave or a convert? It is the Sages who expound the verse in this manner, insisting that a king must have Jewish roots. He then rose up and killed all the Sages, but spared Bava ben Buta in order to take counsel with him.
Herod placed a garland made of porcupine hide on Bava ben Buta’s head, which pricked his eyes out. One day Herod came and sat before him without identifying himself in order to test him. He, Herod, said: See, Master, what this evil slave Herod is doing. Bava ben Buta said to him: What should I do to him? Herod said to him: The Master should curse him. Bava ben Buta said to him: But it is written: “Do not curse the king, not even in your thoughts” (Ecclesiastes 10:20). Herod said to him: He is not a king, since he rules illegally. Bava ben Buta said to him: And even if he were merely a rich man I would not curse him, as it is written: “And do not curse a rich person in your bedchamber” (Ecclesiastes 10:20). And even were he only a leader I would not curse him, as it is written: “And you shall not curse a leader among your people” (Exodus 22:27). Herod said to him: That halakha stated with regard to “a leader among your people,” that is, to a fit Jew who acts as a member of your people, i.e., in accordance with Torah law, and this one does not do the deeds of your people. Bava ben Buta said to him: Nevertheless, I am afraid of him. Herod said to him: There is nobody who will go and tell him, since you and I are sitting here alone. Bava ben Buta said to him: Nevertheless, it is written: “For a bird of the sky shall carry the sound, and that which has wings shall tell the matter” (Ecclesiastes 10:20).

Herod Expresses Regret For Having Killed the Sages and Agrees to Rebuild the Temple for Atonement

Herod said to him: I am he. Had I known that the Sages were so cautious I would not have killed them. Now, what is that man’s remedy, i.e., what can I do to repent for my sinful actions? Bava ben Buta said to him: He who extinguished the light of the world by killing the Torah Sages, as it is written: “For the mitzva is a lamp, and the Torah is light” (Proverbs 6:23), should go and occupy himself with the light of the world, the Temple, as it is written with regard to the Temple: “And all the nations shall flow [venaharu] unto it” (Isaiah 2:2), the word venaharu alluding to light [nehora]. There are those who say that this is what he said to him: He who blinded the eye of the world, as it is written in reference to the Sages: “And if it be committed through ignorance by the eyes of the congregation” (Numbers 15:24), should go and occupy himself with the eye of the world, the Temple, as it is written: “I will desecrate my Temple, the pride of your strength, the delight of your eyes” (Ezekiel 24:21).

Herod is Given Advice By Bava ben Buta How To Rebuild the Temple Without Official Roman Consent

Herod said to him: I am afraid of the Roman government, that they will not permit me to make changes in the Temple. Bava ben Buta said to him: Send a messenger who will travel there for a year, and remain there for another year, and take yet another year to return. In the meantime, you can demolish the Temple and rebuild it. He did so. Eventually, they sent a message to Herod from Rome: If you have not yet demolished it, do not demolish it; and if you have already demolished it, do not rebuild it; and if you have demolished it and already rebuilt it, you shall be counted among those who act wickedly, seeking counsel only after they have already acted. Even if you are armed and in command of a military force, your book, i.e., your genealogical record, is here. You are neither a king [reikha] nor the son of a king, but rather Herod the slave who has made himself a freeman [kelonya]. The Gemara explains: What is the meaning of the word reikha? It denotes royalty, as it is written: “I am today a tender [rakh] and anointed king” (II Samuel 3:39). And if you wish, say that the meaning of the word is learned from here, from the term describing Joseph after he was appointed viceroy to the king: “And they cried before him, Avrekh” (Genesis 41:43).

The Sages say: One who has not seen Herod’s building has never seen a beautiful building in his life

The Sages say: One who has not seen Herod’s building has never seen a beautiful building in his life. The Gemara asks: With what did he build it? Rabba said: With stones of white and green marble [umarmara]. There are those who say that he built it with stones of blue, white, and green marble. Alternate rows of stones sent out an edge a bit and drew in an edge a bit, so that they would better receive and hold the plaster. He considered covering it with gold, but the Rabbis said to him: Leave it, and do not cover it, since it is more beautiful this way, as it looks like the waves of the sea.

Why Did Bava ben Buta Give Advice to Herod the Wicked?

The Gemara asks: And how did Bava ben Buta do this, i.e., give advice to Herod the wicked? But doesn’t Rav Yehuda say that Rav says, and some say it was Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi who says: For what reason was Daniel punished? Because he offered advice to Nebuchadnezzar, as after sharing a harsh prophecy with him, it is stated: “Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you, redeem your sins with charity and your iniquities with graciousness to the poor, that there may be a lengthening of your prosperity” (Daniel 4:24). And it is written: “All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar” (Daniel 4:25). And it is written: “And at the end of twelve months” (Daniel 4:26). Only after a year was the prophecy fulfilled but not before that, apparently because Nebuchadnezzar heeded Daniel’s advice. The Gemara answers: If you wish, say that a slave like Herod is different since he is obligated in the mitzvot, and therefore Bava ben Buta had to help him repent. And if you wish, say the Temple is different, as without the help of the government it would not have been built.

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Permanent Topics

A Light Unto the Nations
Evidence For the Existence of G-d[Hashem]
Book 1: Is G-d a Good Gamble?

Book 2: Interpretation of the Bible

gaonpicB”H Excerpts from An Anthology of the Gaon by Rabbi Moshe Zuriel {Tzuriel}

A Selection of sayings of the Vilna Gaon regarding beliefs, extracted from most of the writings of his disciples, of those faithful to him, and from some of his own writings.


The fact that a person puts off performing a mitzvah until the morrow leads to his not performing it at all, rather, as soon as he has the opportunity he should immediately perform it – to Proverbs 10/8, 14/23, 27/1

If not now, then when?” (Avot I) – the Sages did not say ”if not today”, for even on the same day, one should already now, perform the mitzvah.- to Proverbs 6:9

This Anthology of the sayings of the Vilna Gaon is Not Appropriate For Non-Jewish
Souls. Instead they should scroll up this page to the section A Light Unto the Nations which is more appropriate for a mixed audience.

Anthology Topics:Cruelty  2 Erev Rav  3 Father  4 The First Man  5 Forefathers  6 Heretics 7 The Holy Temple  8 LimbsLove of G-d  10 Man  11 The Nations of the World 12 Prophecy 13 Reproof  14 Reward and Punishment 15 Suffering  16 Swiftness  17 Torah   18 Torah Study  19 The World to Come


Tekhelet Has Been Rediscovered !

For more information on how to get Tekhelet and why you should wear it, GO TO: http://www.tekhelet.com

Here at https://vilnagaon.org/ we also have an article about Tekhelet
Read:   A Solution to Fundamental Problems Regarding Tekhelet

by Shlomo Moshe Scheinman (the author , in the past has written articles with the Haskama of prominent Rabbis , such as, the author of Otzrote Haraaya, Rabbi Moshe Zuriel (Tzuriel) and Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, head of the Temple Institute, מכון המקדש.)