Rambam in his Mishneh Torah (Prayer and the Priestly Blessing 11:14) states that a hall of study is holier than a synagogue.

This raises an interesting question if a hall of study can be holier than Beis Hamikdosh? (Of course, I understand that logically the Temple should be the holiest place, yet it would be interesting to see how others would answer this question).

  • 2
    Please bring Rambam's source and define "holy" and "holier".
    – Al Berko
    Oct 22, 2019 at 21:21
  • Of course, the Temple surely had a Beit Midrash so it is kind of an academic question. Oct 23, 2019 at 10:53
  • @DanielKagan I didn't know it had) Oct 23, 2019 at 14:22
  • @AlBerko sefaria.org/… Oct 23, 2019 at 20:00

3 Answers 3


From the perspective of Jewish law, the Torah requires that certain actions be done in holy places of various levels. The different levels of holiness are listed in Kelim 1:6-9. A house of study isn't holy in this sense of the word. For example, when the Torah requires eating sacrifices in a holy place (Leviticus 7:6), a house of study wouldn't qualify as "holy" for this purpose; only the designated places, first in the Tabernacle and finally in the Temple. So by this definition, it would follow that a house of study outside of the Temple can't be holier than the Temple.


Moses was instructed to remove shoes when he saw the Burning Bush because the place is holy.

put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground (Exodus 3,5)

Similarly, it is forbidden to enter the temple wearing shoes. Now, since there is no prohibition to enter a hall of study wearing shoes, it would seem that the beit hamikdash is indeed holier.


What is the purpose in G-d telling Moshe to remove his shoes?

In Exodus 3:2 G-d reveals Himself to Moses in a burning bush that is not consumed. Why did G-d choose a bush to reveal Himself? Why was the bush not consumed? Was it a miracle or, was it drawing oil from beneath the ground as scientist Colin J. Humphreys claims in his “The Miracles of Exodus.” Are you bothered if the event was natural? How does this make you feel? What about the revelation. What exactly is “revelation”? Does G-d speak? Does G-d have vocal cords? Is it possible that a person can hear G-d’s voice and yet show disobedience, as in the case of Moses? Does G-d become angry? The Rambam says that G-d does not have emotions. If G-d did not speak, was it inspiration or insight—but nevertheless an act he was uncertain about. If it was G-d’s voice as the Bible implies, was it a small still voice as with Elijah or was it fiery thunder as with the people at Sinai?

Can a place be holy?

Does the earth change in one instance from dirt to holy ground? Can the soil turn holy? In reality, a church or synagogue or mosque is not holy. The earth does not change into holy ground. Because “holy,” actually means “separate.” G-d is separated from us. The Rambam said that nothing is holy per se. The term holiness only comes into effect when people use these things to improve themselves and society. In a proper way. Holiness is the result of actions. The Shabbat is only holy if you keep it. Mount Sinai or the Torah is only holy if we read them. The temples, if we pray in them. Israel is only holy when Jews live there.

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    A place can for sure be holy. See the mishna in Kelim 1:6 "There are ten grades of holiness: the land of Israel is holier than all other lands. And what is the nature of its holiness? That from it are brought the omer, the firstfruits and the two loaves, which cannot be brought from any of the other lands." See also the writings of R Kook
    – mbloch
    Oct 23, 2019 at 5:47
  • Holiness can be the result of actions, but the Torah is holy even if it was never read from as it is the word of the Almighty G-d. The Sabbath too is holy even not kept as we say in the Friday night amida: You sanctified the seventh day for you name.
    – Joe Howard
    Oct 23, 2019 at 6:33
  • @mbloch It would be easy to grow an omer in other countries. The Rambam said Israel is only holy when Jews live there. Since Jews always lived in Israel, even in the diaspora, it is always holy.
    – Turk Hill
    Oct 23, 2019 at 16:10
  • @JoeHoward The Torah is only holy when you read from it or are motivated to improve yourself and society, the goals of the Torah.
    – Turk Hill
    Oct 23, 2019 at 16:13
  • And the Shabbat is only holy when you keep it.G-d did not rest on the seventh day. Does G-d rest? No. That is a metaphor telling us to act like G-d, so that we may be holy like Him. G-d visits Abraham when he is sick. Act like G-d and visit sick people. Thus, the Rambam said that things are only made holy when we use them properly.
    – Turk Hill
    Oct 23, 2019 at 16:13

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