April 17, 2024
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Pinchas: The Value of Constant Service

While learning Parshas Pinchas, I noted the incredible actions of Pinchas in executing Kozbi and Zimri, which saved the Jewish people from a continuing plague. Pinchas was driven by passion. At the end of our parsha we read about the daughters of Tzelafchad, who very much desired a portion in Yisrael. They were also very passionate. Imagine what it took to stand up to Moshe and the leaders of their tribe in front of Klal Yisrael! So we have two examples of passionate Judaism. But are the passionate actions of Pinchas and the daughters of Tzelafchad the type of actions required of all of us?

A wonderful neighbor of mine asked me the following: In Parshas Pinchas, Hashem chooses Yehoshua to be the successor of Moshe Rabbeinu. Why wasn’t Pinchas, who had just saved the Bnei Yisrael from Hashem’s anger, the first choice? Pinchas was a hero, while Yehoshua was a quiet figure. Shouldn’t Pinchas be the one chosen to lead?

To answer this question, let’s first look to the end of the parsha, where we are introduced to the Korban Tamid, the daily offering. On the 17th of Tammuz, at the time of the Roman persecution, the Korban Tamid was abolished, one of five things that led to the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. How was terminating the Korban Tamid a catalyst for the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash?

The Gemara Shabbos (119b) lists many reasons for the destruction of Yerushalayim, the first one being that the people stopped saying Krias Shema in the morning and evening. Why should this omission lead to the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash?

Our parasha lists the Mussaf offerings of each of the holy days, each one a special korban (sacrifice). Even so, the Korban Tamid (daily sacrifice) was also brought. Which was brought first, the daily sacrifice or the unique, special sacrifice? We have a great rule: “tadir v’eino tadir, tadir kodem,” the more-frequently performed mitzvah precedes the less-frequently performed. It’s not the unique, special actions that make us great, but rather the constant performance of the daily mitzvos that makes us heroes in Hashem’s eyes. Therefore, the Korban Tamid was offered first. The simple, yet consistent everyday mitzvos are the key.

Look at the unique sacrifices of Sukkot. Seventy bulls were offered on behalf of the 70 nations of the world. The first day of Sukkos, 13 bulls were brought; the following day 12. The bull offerings decreased daily until only seven were brought on the last day of Sukkos. This signifies that the nations will diminish over time. They start the observance of their religion with a big to-do, represented by the 13 sacrifices, but they don’t maintain their enthusiasm, and their passion and excitement wane. But Bnei Yisrael don’t bring the big korbanos, bulls; rather, they bring sheep, the sacrifice of the ordinary man. Also, they bring the same number (14) daily, because Hashem values consistency. Bnei Yisrael started and maintained their closeness to Hashem throughout history.

Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld, zt”l, hearing that the great Klausenberger Rebbe would not start davening until he had a new insight into the tefilla, sat down the next morning and looked inside his siddur, but no insight came to him. He looked again…still nothing. Finally, it was so late that he had no choice but to start davening. This illustrates that davening daily is a greater mitzvah than davening only when you feel a great kedusha or insight come over you.

This, therefore, leads us to the impact of not reciting Krias Shema, a simple, twice-daily mitzvah, where every Jew declares his acceptance of Hashem’s rule as the King of the Universe. This is why—measure for measure—it led to the abolition of the Korban Tamid on the 17th of Tammuz and ultimately the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash! Without the daily, set service to Hashem, there was no way for their avodas Hashem to have any permanence.

Pinchas, great as he was, was a symbol of monumental passion and action—the hero who stepped up. Yet it was Yehoshua, “a lad who never left the tent” of Moshe (Shemos 33:11), who was chosen to lead. He had been a faithful talmid for 40 years and he would represent to Bnei Yisrael the perpetual, steady service of Hashem.

Shlomo Hamelech tells us, “The lazy man should examine the ways of an ant and grow wise.” The Yalkut Shimoni (Mishlei 938) tells of an anthill that was discovered to contain 300 kur (about 1,900 bushels!) of grain in a year of famine. They didn’t gather it all in one day. Our constant and consistent tefillos, mitzvos and especially Torah study mean more and have a greater, lasting effect than any occasional, extraordinary act.

By Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim

 Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch. PTI has attracted people from all over northern New Jersey, including Teaneck, Bergenfield, Paramus, Rockaway and Fair Lawn. He initiated and continues to lead a full multi-level gemara learning program in the evenings, gives halacha and hashkafah shiurim on Shabbat and, more recently, has spread out beyond PTI to begin a weekly Beit Medrash program with in-depth chavruta learning in both Livingston and Springfield, New Jersey.

 

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