I heard yesterday from someone that he had a problem with some guy standing outside of the mikveh of Arizal and selling towels. He said it reminded him of 770 today, supposedly one of the holiest places of the golus, outside of which people are standing and selling stuff. Also, people standing inside, talking, etc. Thank G-d not smoking anymore for the most part (after than ensued a conversation about how everyone used to smoke inside all the time, and how Reb Yoel Kan smoked during his shiurim so much that you had to open a window to breathe).
I commented that it was the same in the time of the Beis HaMikdosh, wasn’t it? People were selling livestock, food and other things right outside of Beis HaMikdosh. At which point someone commented that there is even a story with Yoshka about that (whether or not it’s true and whether it was an appropriate comment is another point), and the original speaker said: “Yes, the feeling of kedusha lost”.
Now, my question is not about the fact that the feeling of kedusha was lost, both in the times of the Beis HaMikdosh and around 770 today. I am wondering, however: is it so wrong to sell towels for the mikveh outside of mikveh or sell cattle for karbonos right outside Beis HaMikdosh? Isn’t that what creating dira b’tachtoinim all about — participating in the world? The guy selling towels is selling something you need for a mikveh; when you buy a towel from him, you allow him to earn livelihood (as opposed to schnor, which I suppose is a more stereotypical activity for a frum Jew nowadays), and since all of that is used for a holy purpose (going to a mikveh), what’s the problem?
I am also wondering whether there is a conflict of oiros vs. etzem in here. Experience vs. the essence. Which is interesting, because the same person told me that it is more chassidish to daven in a minyan, where you’re bottul to the fact that you need other nine men, vs. davening b’avoida, where it’s all about your own experience.