Parashas Pinchas

The second half of this week’s parashah discusses the daily tamid offerings and the additional musaf offerings brought on Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh, and the Yomim Tovim. Over the seven days of Sukkos, a total of seventy bulls are offered, corresponding to the seventy nations of the world. On Shemini Atzeres, a single bull is offered, corresponding to the Jewish People, the unique nation devoted to Hashem and His Torah. The Maggid cites the Gemara in Sukkah 55b which teaches that Shemini Atzeres is a day when Hashem and the Jewish People get together, so to speak, for a modest intimate meal and delight in each other’s company.
The Maggid then goes on to expound on a more somber teaching about the Yomim Tovim. It is written (Tzefaniah 3:18): “I have gathered together those who mourned for the appointed time – they came from you, who carried a burden of shame for it.” The Gemara in Berachos 28a, discussing this verse, says that the Jewish People are shattered because of the postponement of the festival assemblies in Yerushalayim. The Maggid comments as follows. When the Beis HaMikdash was standing, it served as the Jewish People’s designated place for national rejoicing, as it is written (Devarim 12:11-12): “It shall be that the place where Hashem your God will choose to lodge His Name – there you shall bring [all your various offerings], and you shall rejoice before Hashem your God.” But now, with the Beis HaMikdash having been destroyed, we no longer have any designated place for national rejoicing. Moreover, the role of the Yomim Tovim as times for rejoicing has been weakened, for now our fortune is bound up with that of the other nations of the world. Thus, David HaMelech writes (Tehillim 4:8, homiletically): “You brought joy to my heart at the time their grain and wine became abundant” – we rejoice when the nations of the world are enriched, for the main bounty we receive now is what filters down from them to us. And who caused this situation to come about? Tzefaniah points his finger at us, so to speak, and says: “It came from you.” Our own sins put us in this state.
David HaMelech writes further (Tehillim 137:4): “How can we sing the song of Hashem on foreign soil?” This verse, the Maggid says, applies even to those of us who live in Eretz Yisrael. In the days of yore, when we were firmly established in Eretz Yisrael, Hashem channeled our portion of blessing to us directly through our own land. But now, as we explained, He delivers our portion of blessing to other nations, and then arranges for it to come to us from them. How can we sing the song of Hashem when our lives depend on the bounty of foreign lands?
Yet, with all our pain, we can still gain solace. In the last chapter of Hallel, it is written (Tehillim 118:22-24):
The stone that the builders rejected is the one that was made the foundation stone. From Hashem this has come about; it is wondrous in our eyes. This is the day that Hashem has wrought; we shall jubilate and rejoice in it/Him (bo).
The nations of the world deny our stature, and claim that Hashem brings blessing to the world only for their benefit. They assert that Hashem has no regard for us at all. But we know that Hashem still cherishes us. And even though He grants more material blessing to other nations than to us, we still jubilate and rejoice in our relationship with Him. We can still delight in His company. [Certain Midrashim link the last verse in the above passage from Tehillim with Shemini Atzeres.] And we faithfully await the day when He will wipe away all our pain and restore us to our former glory, as it is written (Yeshayah 35:10): “Those redeemed by Hashem shall return, and shall come to Zion with jubilant song, with eternal joy upon their heads. They shall attain gladness and joy, and anguish and groaning shall flee.”
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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