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P' Pinchas - The Rhythm of Life

07/20/2017 10:36:47 PM


Rabbi Joshua Meisner

Parshas Pinchas begins with a command to wage war against Midyan.  Hashem then notifies Moshe that this will be his last war, Moshe replies that Hashem needs to appoint a successor, and Hashem names Yehoshua as the next leader.  Directly following are passages describing the laws of the mussafim, which interrupt the narrative prior to the fighting of the anticipated war.

To explain this flow, Rashi cites a midrash that provides a parable to a dying princess who entreats her husband to take care of her children.  He responds, “Before you instruct me regarding your children, command your children regarding me that they not rebel against me.”  So, too, when Moshe requested that Hashem look after Klal Yisroel by appointing a leader, Hashem responded that Moshe must command Klal Yisroel to cultivate their relationship with Him by offering korbanos.  However, how this is to be achieved by the korbanos requires elucidation. 

The passages of the korbanos are themselves strange; we would have expected to find for each chag a set of korbanos that reflect its special nature.  However, while such may be observed in Sefer Vayikra, this appears to not be the case in the current parsha.  On Rosh Chodesh, the mussaf offering is 2 bulls, 1 ram, and 7 lambs.  On each day of Pesach, the offering is 2 bulls, 1 ram, and 7 lambs.  On Shavu’os, the mussaf is 2 bulls, 1 ram, and 7 lambs.  And on Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur, and Shmini Atzeres, the mussafim consist of 1 bull, 1 ram, and 7 lambs.  Why do all of the chagim have such similar korbanos?

               There is a well-known halacha that we do not say tachanun on Tish’a B’Av because it is a “mo’ed”.  R’ Yeruchem Levovitz, quoted in Alei Shur, explains that just as there are mo’adim of closeness, such as the regalim, so, too, are there mo’adim of distance, such as the four fasts.  A mo’ed is merely an opportunity to meet with Hashem, and the nature of the day determines the character of this meeting.

               The role that Moshe envisioned for the leader to succeed him was “to walk in front of them and to enter in front of them; to take them out and to bring them in”.  This leader is intended to provide structure to the nation, to tell them what to do and when.  In the midbar, the people’s lives were completely plotted out for them.  Moshe recognized, though, that upon their entrance to the land, the nation would need a new structure due to the greater scope of their existence.  Hashem added to this that the people themselves needed to take an active role in the administration of this structure through these korbanos.

               Life brings a wide variety of situations, but the korbanos provide a calming regularity.  Every day, come what may, the kohanim offer one lamb in the morning and one lamb in the afternoon, one lamb in the morning and one lamb in the afternoon.  Every Shabbos, this pattern is built upon by the weekly rhythm of two lambs, two lambs, two lambs. And as the Jews traversed the year, they were greeted by a beat of 2-1-7, 2-1-7, 2-1-7.  The mussafim thus provide structure to the life of Klal Yisroel.  Each day has its own character, but they all share the obligation of introspection and the determination of where a person stands in his relationship to Hashem.  Only once this metronome is set in place can the Jews move on to their new existence in Eretz Yisroel.

Wed, February 28 2024 19 Adar I 5784