Pinchas 2021 Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס"ד
Discover the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
You shall offer one lamb in the morning and one lamb in the afternoon.
The end of this parsha describes the procedure of the tamid offering, offered twice a day in the Mishkan and Beit HaMikdash. We may say that the offerings, “korbanot” which mean to come close together in the Beit Hamikdash, cause peace between Hashem and Israel, as it says that they are “a sweet fragrance” before Hashem. It is said that Pinchas, mentioned at the beginning of this parsha caused peace between Hashem and Israel through his act of “purification,” and therefore, he was also promised a “covenant of peace.” In this way, both the beginning and end of this parsha carry the theme of peace.
There is a famous Mishna at the beginning of Pirkei Avot (1:2) that states: “On three things the world stands, on Torah, on the Service [Avoda], and on the performance of kind deeds.” Although many explain the word service as referring to prayer, the simple explanation of the term refers specifically to the service of bringing korbanot performed in the Beit Hamikdash.
Let us analyze this Mishna in more depth by searching for the biblical source for it given by our Sages. The source for Torah upholding the world is the verse “if not for my covenant (homiletically interpreted as Torah)… the laws of heaven of earth I did not place’ (Yirmiyahu 33:25), while the source for kind deeds upholding the world is “a world of kindness shall be built” (Tehilim 89:3). In regard to Avoda being a pillar on which the world stands, the proof-text given by our Sages is the same verse given for Torah, but in this context, “My covenant” refers to the covenant with Avraham at the brit bein habetarim, the covenant of the pieces (Bereshit chapter 15). This was where the covenant between Hashem and Avraham and his offspring was formed following the sacrifices offered by Avraham, which alluded to the future service in the Beit Hamikdash.
Since the proof-text for Avoda being a pillar of the world is the verse “if not for my covenant (referring to the Service which expresses the covenant and connection between Israel and Hashem) night and day, the laws of heaven of earth I did not place’ (Yirmiyahu 33, 25), it is clear that the most basic understanding of the word Avoda refers to the continuous (covenant night and day) sacrifices in the Beit HaMikdash. This includes the tamid offering and other continuous components of the Avoda, such as guarding the Beit HaMikdash and the lighting of the Menora.
The explanation of Avoda as prayer does not negate the simple explanation of Avoda as sacrfices but is an extension of this explanation. Our Sages teach that the three daily prayers, Shacharit, Mincha, and Maariv, were all enacted to allude to the different sacrifices in the Beit Hamikdash. If so, it follows that our continuous prayers throughout the morning, afternoon, and night represent our continuous covenant with Hashem. This concept of continuity in prayer may also explain why “one who specifies a location for his prayer, (i.e., by continuously praying at that location), the God of Avraham will help him.” The notion of aid, specifically from “the God of Avraham,” is supported by a proof-text in the Gemara, but perhaps there is a deeper meaning we can gather from the term “the God of Avraham” here.
The first covenant with our Patriarchs was formed with Avraham, and the mitzvah that we fulfill today which evokes the covenant explicitly, brit mila, is also called “the covenant of Avraham our father” in the blessing recited at a brit mila. It, therefore, follows that our continuous covenant and connection to Hashem through prayer is linked to Avraham’s connection to Hashem, which is why the Gemara refers to “the God of Avraham.” Interestingly, both the covenant with Avraham, which served as the forerunner to the korbanot in the Beit HaMikdash and the tamid sacrifice itself, evoke Hebron. Hebron is “the city of the covenant with Avraham,” for here, Avraham entered the covenant through circumcision. In addition, it is the primary place from which the sheep for the tamid offering were brought, as mentioned by the Gemara in Menachot and as ruled by the Rambam. In turn, it is through Hebron that our prayers, which correspond to the tamid sacrifice, arise to Heaven (for a greater discussion of this matter, see the Introduction to our new book “Hebron: Uniting with the Holy Presence” which has just been published! For details, or to order the book, please contact [email protected]).
Real Stories from the Holy Land:
“Once I took down my mezuzah placed at the front entrance of my apartment to be checked without replacing it with a spare mezuzah. When I approached the entrance of the apartment I realized I had lost the keys, so I phoned my mother, who had another copy of the keys, to come and help me. However, she told me that she couldn’t come, because her car was being repaired. I figured, ‘maybe Hashem doesn’t want me to enter a house without a mezuzah,’ so I asked someone to lend me their mezuzah, which I fastened to the doorpost. Within the hour, my mother suddenly arrived and gave me the keys to the apartment.