The Torah Temimah to Bereishis 32 #9, in order to answer a different question, cites the "Aggados", that the Beis Hamikdash was built in the portion of Binyomin because he was the only one of the sons of Yaakov not to bow to Eisav (he wasn't born yet). I'm trying to find a source for this idea, but I can't. None of the Midrashim in VeZos HaBeracha (which the TT directs us to) I saw say this.

I remember seeing last year that the Gra says it's a gemarra, but I couldn't find any.

Contrast this with the reasons the Chizkuni cites.

ולפי שכל השבטים היו שותפים במכירתו של יוסף, ובנימין לא היה שותף עמהם וכל השבטים נולדו חוצה לארץ ובנימין נולד בארץ ישראל זכה הוא להיות השכינה שורה בחלקו.

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    The Hida quotes this from Hazal in his Homat Anakh to Parashat Mikets (16): דאמרו רז"ל דלא נבנה בית המקדש בחלק השבטים משום שהשתחוו לעשו. ונבנה בית המקדש בחלק בנימין שלא היה נולד ולא השתחוה לעשו
    – mevaqesh
    Nov 28, 2017 at 3:17
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    Another Rishon who states this is the Akedat Yitshak: (Parashat Vayishlah Sha'ar 26): שכל השבטים השתחוו זולתי בנימן שלא היה עדין מצוי והוא אשר נתיחד להיות בית המקדש בחלקו
    – mevaqesh
    Nov 29, 2017 at 0:37

3 Answers 3


Thanks to @sabbahillel's hint from aish.com that the source is from the Baalei Tosafos, I was able to find an earlier source. The author there copied from the DBS Torah database for Devarim 33:8 (it starts there and continues to discuss verse 12).

פירוש בעלי התוספות על דברים פרק לג פסוק ח

ידיד ה' ישכון לבטח עליו מה טעם שכינה בחלק בנימין לפי שהוא לבדו נולד בארץ ישראל. ויש מפרשים שעדיין לא נולד כשהשתחוו השבטים לעשו.

Hadar Zekeinim also says this.

Subsequently I was able to find that this comes from the Riva (Rabbi Yehudah Ben Eliezer) to Devarim 33:12, quoting Rabbeinu Tam from Orleans. The sefer Shem Gedolim says he might have been one of the students of the famous Rabbeinu Tam, and quotes Seder Hadoros who says he was one of the Baalei Tosafos.

I'm still not sure why the Kol Eliyahu quotes the idea from the Gemarra, but the sefer Penimim MiShulchan HaGra asserts it's a mistake. It's not in the gemarra, and they bring an earlier source than above, Targum Sheni to Esther 3:3. It's not as explicit but implies the cause and effect of not bowing and the Temple.

וכד סגיד יעקב קדם עשו בנימין לא ילוד הוה ולא סגיד קדם אנש מן יומוי מטול כדין נטר יתיה קיים עלמא במעי אמיה עד עידן דיסקון לארעא דישראל ויתבני בית מקדשא בארעיה ותשרי שכינתיה בתחומיה

Passhegen HaKesav translates/explains it in Hebrew

ובהשתחוות יעקב לפני עשו בנימין לא היה נולד ומימיו לא השתחווה לפני איש, על זאת צור עולמים שמר אותו במעי אמו עד אשר יעלו בניו לארץ ישראל ויבנה בית המקדש בחלקו וישכון שכינתו בגבולו


There is a supercommentary on Torah Temimah called Meshivas Nefesh by Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Feldman in Los Angeles.

On the words ואפשר לומר ע׳ד הדרש he writes: זה כבר בספר קול אליהו המיוחס להגר׳א. Unless the Gra there is quoting an earlier source, he is the source.

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    That's helpful, but my question mentioned I saw the Gra say this and he said it's a gemarra...
    – robev
    Nov 28, 2017 at 0:28
  • Right. But at least here you have a source pinning it on the gra. I guess next step would be to double check the gra to make sure he is really quoting a gemara. I checked the otzar medrashim and found no such chazzal.
    – user6591
    Nov 28, 2017 at 0:33
  • Yeah it's the same Gra I saw last year. He says what @sabbahillel quotes. Doesn't say where he's coming from.
    – robev
    Nov 28, 2017 at 1:06

I found commentaries on the bracha of Binyamin Vzos habracha 33:12 some of whom give the reason of not bowing and some other reasons. See Rabbi Scher below who connects all the comments on Binyomin (including the two in the question) to a unified explanation.

And of Benjamin he said, "The Lord's beloved one shall dwell securely beside Him; He protects him all day long, and He dwells between his shoulders."

Rabbi Yitzchak Scher/ Kollel Zichron Amram/Yeshiva of Greater Washington writes in The Spark Within that the connection is not that Binyamin did not bow or that Binyamin was not involved with the sale of Yoseph, but that these and other events (such as being born in Eretz Yisrael) meant that

Binyamin represents to us this immutable point of purity within every Jew. Binyamin represents the part of Klal Yisroel that remains pure, pristine and innocent, no matter what. In his entire lifetime, evil does not touch him and he does not touch evil. He is the paradigm of purity.

In the Beis Hamikdash, there is one room which always remains holy, pure and pristine. The Kodesh Hakodoshim (Holy of Holies), which was only entered once a year, by the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, is a room that represents the deep, eternal, and intimate relationship between Hashem and the Jewish people. This room is that point in the world that remains holy, untainted, and uncorrupted by evil. It was a small beacon of spirituality, a slice of another world, within the confines of this world. This room was appropriately situated in Binyamin’s portion of Eretz Yisroel. This is the meaning of Moshe’s blessing to the tribe of Binyamin: “To Binyamin he said: ‘The dear one of Hashem. He will dwell securely with [Hashem]. Hashem protects [Binyamin] and rests His Presence upon him’ (Devarim 33:12, see translation of Onkelos and other commentaries).”

Priority Number One cites the Ntzi"v as quoting the medrash.

The Netzi”v, Zt”l, Zy”a, gives another reason. He explains that the Medrash says that the reason why the Beis HaMikdash was built in the portion of Binyamin was because he was the only one who did not bow down to the wicked Eisav. Since at the time of the bowing, Rochel was already pregnant with Binyamin (cf. Targum Yonason Ben Uziel), Yosef blocked Rochel from Eisav so that even in the fetus stage Binyamin should be spared from bowing down to Eisav.

  • @robev I changed the answer to be more specific and point to those who tie the Bais Hamikdash to Binyamin not bowing to Eisav. Nov 28, 2017 at 0:54
  • Okay much better. However the Gra you quote is the same one in my question, he cites "the gemarra" but I don't know where. There's no Daas Zekeinim or Peirush HaRosh to 33:8. There's a Chizkuni that I quoted but he didn't mention the bowing. I'm not sure who Aish is referring to.
    – robev
    Nov 28, 2017 at 1:05
  • It's also not in מושב זקינים nor הדר זקנים
    – robev
    Nov 28, 2017 at 1:13
  • @robev Could they have made a typo and meant 33:12, the bracha of Binyamin? I do not have a copy with me to check so i just quoted the citation. Nov 28, 2017 at 3:38
  • I assume it's a typo; check my answer from "the Baalei Tosafos" to verse 12
    – robev
    Nov 28, 2017 at 4:59

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