For the week ending 30 July 2016 / 24 Tammuz 5776

The Parsha Dual Dichotomy 5776 - Part 3

by Rabbi Yehuda Spitz
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Previous installments explained that the weekly parsha right now is not the same one outside of Israel as it is in Eretz Yisrael. This is due to the fact that in this year the 8th day of Pesach fell out on Shabbat. On that Shabbat/Yom Tov everyone outside of Israel read the Yom Tov reading of “Aser Te’Asser” from Parshat Re’eh, whereas in Eretz Yisrael,the next parsha in the cycle — Shemini — was read, as Pesach had already ended for them. Our question was why do we wait so long for the whole world to be realigned, more than three months later?

Not a new question, as several early Acharonim, including the Mahari”t, Rav Yosef Tirani, addressed this exact issue almost 500 years ago. One reason is to ensure that there is a “buffer week” after the “Tochacha – rebuke” detailed in Parshat Bechukotai, and before Shavuot.

An additional approach focuses on Parshat Pinchas — that it should be specifically read specifically during the Three Weeks, the mourning period when we commemorate the destructions of our Batei Mikdash.

The first reason brought by the Bnei Yisaschar elucidating this point is that Parshat Pinchas, as well as Matot and Masei, contain the reading of “chalukat ha’aretz”, the apportioning of Eretz Yisrael. The reason for these readings to be leined specifically then is to remind us of Gd’s promise that although we are currently in golut, exile, nevertheless, “le’aileh techalek ha’aretz”, we will still inherit Eretz Yisrael.

The Minchas Yitzchak makes this point in a similar manner regarding korbanot (sacrifices), especially the Korban Tamid, which is also detailed in Parshat Pinchas. He explains that the Korban Tamid protected the Jewish People from sinning with avodah zara (idolatry). When the Korban Tamid was no longer offered, it enabled the yetzer hara of avodah zara to strengthen; and it was due to this sinning that eventually led to the Beit Hamikdash’s destruction.

Since we no longer have korbanot, at least our tefillot are their current replacement. Therefore, the leining of the korbanot is specifically read during the Three Weeks, when we are mourning the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash. This serves to strengthen us enable us to fight the reasons and causes for its destruction, and allow its rebuilding.

An additional point the Bnei Yisaschar brings is that Parshat Pinchas contains the Parshat HaMo’adim, the reading detailing all the Yamim Tovim and their observances. He explains that this is also a proper reading for the Three Weeks, to comfort us in our time of mourning. This is as the Prophet Zechariah prophesized that when the redemption arrives this period will be turned into one of great rejoicing — “l’sasson u’lsimcha ul’Moadim tovim”.

For all of the above-mentioned reasons, it is simply not worthwhile for Chutz La’aretz to make Chukat and Balak into a double parsha merely to catch up to Eretz Yisrael, since if it would, then Parshat Pinchas will not fall out in the Three Weeks. Therefore, it is proper for Chutz La’aretz to wait, and not catch up to Eretz Yisrael until Matot/Masei, and ensuring that Parshat Pinchas will be read during the Three Weeks, for us to be able to appreciate and tap into its significance and promises for the future.

In conclusion, although it may seem complicated and confusing, on the contrary, each “calendar calculation” is clearly consistent with the clarion call of our Chazal — parsha combination and separation synchronized to showcase hope and consolation when we need it most, as well as serve as a buffer from condemnation.

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