Parashas Pinchas

This week’s parashas concludes with a long section describing the daily tamid offering and the special musaf offerings for Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh, and the various festivals. In this connection, I present a teaching of the Maggid regarding the festivals (taken from his commentary on Shir HaShirim 1:2-4).
The Torah commands us to rejoice on the festivals. Yet the concept of set times for rejoicing is puzzling. Usually a person feels happy when he is doing well and sad when he is doing poorly. How can the Torah legislate a time for rejoicing?
The Maggid answers as follows. Hashem manages our affairs like a guardian manages the affairs of an orphan. The guardian invests the orphan’s money, with the orphan having no direct knowledge of the status of these investments. The orphan relies solely on what the guardian tells him. If the guardian tells him that he has made a profit, he is happy, and if the guardian tells him that he has suffered a loss, he is sad. In the same way, we rely on Hashem to let us know what results have ensued from our actions. In this vein, it is written (Divrei HaYamim Beis 20:12): “We do not know what we do – our eyes are upon You” (a verse we recite in the closing section of the weekday Tachanun prayer). We ourselves do not know what effects our actions have. Only Hashem perceives all the ramifications of what we do.
In particular, when we perform mitzvos, we do not fully grasp what we are accomplishing. We simply do what Hashem commands us to do. Hashem alone is aware of the true significance and purpose of the mitzvos, and the beneficial effects they have on the upper worlds. Hence, our eyes are turned toward Hashem to tell us how matters are faring. If He holds us back from rejoicing, we know that our actions have produced only a minimal benefit, and so it is not fitting to rejoice. Conversely, if He tells us that it is time to rejoice, we know that our actions have wrought great things. Even if we see no sign of blessing at that time, we rely on Hashem’s word that we have gained a great profit. Thus, David HaMelech declares (Tehillim 31:20): “How great is the blessing that You have hidden in store for those who fear You!” This explains the Torah commandment to rejoice at certain designated times.
The Midrash relates (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 1:32):
It is written (Tehillim 118:24): “This is the day that Hashem has wrought – we shall jubilate and rejoice bo.” Said R. Avin: “We cannot tell what we should rejoice over – the day or the Holy One Blessed Be He. [The word bo can mean either in it or in Him.] Shlomo came and explained it (Shir HaShirim 1:4): ‘We shall jubilate and rejoice in You (bach) – the Holy One Blessed Be He – in Your salvation, in Your Torah, in Your awesomeness.” Said R. Yitzchak: “The word bach refers to the twenty-two letters [of the Hebrew alphabet] that You have written down for us in the Torah. The letter with the numerical value of two is beis, and the letter with the numerical value of twenty is kaf/chaf – thus bach.”
The Midrash asks what the word bo refers to. It could be referring to the day – that is, to the success that we experienced at that time. Or it could be referring to Hashem – that is, to the fact that Hashem commanded us to rejoice, and we rely on His word that a hidden treasure lays in store for us. The Midrash concludes, based on the verse from Shir HaShirim, that it is in Hashem that we jubilate and rejoice. The main cause of our rejoicing is that Hashem – who knows the true nature of the times – has told us to rejoice.
The Midrash continues by elaborating on the nature of our rejoicing. The Midrash says that we rejoice in the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet – that is, in the Torah and the mitzvos. The Torah is the root of the Hebrew alphabet, and is infused with deep secrets. Hashem alone is aware of these secrets, and of the effects that result when we perform the mitzvos. These things have not been revealed to us. And so we rely on Hashem to tell us when to rejoice.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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