Parashas Pinchas

The second half of this week’s parashah describes the festival offerings. This leads the Maggid to present several teachings relating to the festivals. Here I present one of the these teachings, which is also related to the annual three-week period of mourning we are now observing over the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash.
The Gemara in Berachos 28a, expounding on Tzefaniah 3:18, states that the Jewish People suffer tragically on account of delay in the festival observances. The Maggid, in a homiletic vein, interprets this teaching as follows. When the Beis HaMikdash was standing, we had a set place for rejoicing. Thus, the Torah says (Devarim 12:12): “You shall rejoice before Hashem your God [i.e., in the place where He sets His Presence]. And Yerushalayim is described as being “beautiful in setting, the joy of the entire earth” (Tehillim 48:3). But this situation changed after the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. Regarding the time of the destruction, Yirmiyahu says (verse 7:34, speaking in Hashem’s Name): “I will bring to a halt, in the cities of Yehudah and from the streets of Yerushalayim, the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride.”
Moreover, when the Beis HaMikdash was standing, we had set times for rejoicing – the festivals that the Torah designates, where we gathered together at the Beis HaMikdash to rejoice. In former days, at times of the year associated with the festivals, we would harvest the crops of our fields and vineyards and rejoice over the bounty Hashem granted us. But now we have no set place for rejoicing, and we have no set time for rejoicing – it is as if our rejoicing is delayed. It is true that we still observe the festivals, but our rejoicing is muted and tinged with sorrow because of the subjugation we suffer. As the Gemara states (Shabbos 145b): “There is no festival on which troops did not come to Sepphoris.”
A key reason why we have no set place and time for rejoicing is that our rejoicing depends on the success of others: We are sustained through the bounty left over from other lands. Regarding this situation, David HaMelech declares (Tehillim 4:8, homiletically): “You brought joy to my heart at the time their grain and wine became abundant” – we rejoice at the unpredictably varying times when other nations are enriched, for we rely on their support. It is written (Tehillim 137:4): “How can we sing the song of Hashem in a foreign land?” We may ask how Jews living in Eretz Yisrael can pose this question, given that they actually live in the Jewish homeland, the sacred home of our forefathers. And we can answer that the question is an expression of sorrow over the fact that we are no longer able us to sustain ourselves fully from blessings that Hashem brings to our own land, but instead are dependent on other nations, as if we were living in foreign lands.
We constantly look ahead with intense hope for the time when Hashem will restore our former rejoicing, as in the days when we had homesteads in Eretz Yisrael with fields and vineyards, and enable us to gather together at the Beis HaMikdash and rejoice with full gladness on the designated festivals. We yearn for the future era of Yeshayah spoke (verse 35:10): “Those redeemed by Hashem will return and come to Tziyon with exuberant song. Eternal joy will be upon their heads; they will attain jubilation and joy, and anguish and groaning will flee.”
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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