In Bava Batra 3b

אָמַר רַב חִסְדָּא: לֹא לִיסְתּוֹר אִינִישׁ בֵּי כְנִישְׁתָּא, עַד דְּבָנֵי בֵּי כְנִישְׁתָּא אַחֲרִיתִי § Rav Ḥisda says: A person may not demolish a synagogue until he first builds another synagogue

A bit later the Gemara asks

וּבָבָא בֶּן בּוּטָא, הֵיכִי אַסְּבֵיהּ לֵיהּ עֵצָה לְהוֹרְדוֹס לְמִיסְתְּרֵיהּ לְבֵית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ? וְהָאָמַר רַב חִסְדָּא: לָא לִיסְתּוֹר אִינִישׁ בֵּי כְנִישְׁתָּא עַד דְּבָנֵי בֵּי כְנִישְׁתָּא אַחְרִיתָא! אִי בָּעֵית אֵימָא: תִּיוְהָא חֲזָא בֵּיהּ, אִיבָּעֵית אֵימָא: מַלְכוּתָא שָׁאנֵי, דְּלָא הָדְרָא בֵּיהּ; דְּאָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל, אִי אָמַר מַלְכוּתָא: ״עָקַרְנָא טוּרֵי״ – עָקַר טוּרֵי וְלָא הָדַר בֵּיהּ. 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

Why couldn't the gemara answer that Rav Chisda's halacha only applies to a synagogue, as you can build another synagogue elsewhere before demolishing the current one. Given that by the Bais Hamikdash this is impossible, as the new one needs to be build on the same plot the old one is build on, Bava ben Buta was able to advise Hordus to destroy it prior to building the new one?

1 Answer 1


This is a great question, although it isn't addressed by many commentators. The only person I found who discussed this was Rabbi Mattityahu Strashun (son of the Rashash), in his notes on Baba Basra. [They are printed in the back of Vilna Shas]

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He answers that the question was why Bava ben Buta advised Hurdus to rebuild the Beis Hamikdash when there was nothing terribly wrong with it. Considering that there is a problem to rebuild without first establishing a replacement, although that prohibition may not apply to Beis Hamikdash where establishing a replacement is impossible, the concern is equally relevant, and therefore refurbishing the Beis Hamikdash should not be done without a pressing need.

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    Thanks for finding an posting this. How would he explain the first answer of the gemara that we can rely on a King to rebuild it, if the question wasn't regarding the issue of maybe not rebuilding it , rather the issue was destroying the bais hamikdash for no good reason.
    – Yoreinu
    Commented Jun 25 at 18:17
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    The issue of destroying the Beis Hamikdash unnecessarily is predicated on the concern that it will not be rebuilt. Remember, the Gemara bases this on R' Chisda's law not to destroy a synagogue without a replacement. R' Strashun only notes that although one can argue that the prohibition will not apply here, the concern surely does. The answer that we can rely on a king negates the concern.
    – chortkov2
    Commented Jun 25 at 18:45

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