Parshas Pinchas: Consistency in Avodas Hashem

It is year forty of desert wanderings.  As a result of the sin at Mei Merivah (Bamidbar Ch.20) Moshe’s days are numbered and he will not be leading the Jews into the Land of Israel.  Hence, in this week’s parsha, Parshas Pinchas, Moshe asks Hashem to appoint a leader who will take care of the nation after his death, and lead them across the Jordan River.  

And Moshe spoke to Hashem saying: יִפְקֹד ה’ אֱלֹקֹי הָרוּחֹת לְכָל-בָּשָׂר אִישׁ, עַל-הָעֵדָה – Let Hashem, the G-d of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, אֲשֶׁר-יֵצֵא לִפְנֵיהֶם, וַאֲשֶׁר יָבֹא לִפְנֵיהֶם, וַאֲשֶׁר יוֹצִיאֵם, וַאֲשֶׁר יְבִיאֵם; וְלֹא תִהְיֶה, עֲדַת ה’ כַּצֹּאן, אֲשֶׁר אֵין-לָהֶם רֹעֶה, who will go forth before them and come before them, who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of Hashem will not be like sheep without a shepherd (Bamidbar 27:15-17).

Moshe Rabbeinu was the essence of leadership, whose main concern was the well-being of his flock after his demise.  Though his hope and prayer to enter the Holy Land was not granted, when facing his death, his primary thoughts were not about himself; they were with the nation he had loved and led for the past forty years.  

In deference to his request, G-d instructs Moshe to appoint Yehoshua bin Nun as the next leader (v.18-23), which Moshe promptly proceeds to do, before the eyes of the entire assembly.  

Interestingly, the very next topic in the parsha is the Korban Tamid – the daily burnt offering offered twice a day in the Mishkan (and then Beis HaMikdash).  The very next pasukim say: And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: “Command Bnei Yisrael and say to them: My offering, My food, for My fire offerings, a spirit of satisfaction for Me, you shall take care to offer to Me at its appointed time” (28:1-2).

Rabbi Shalom Rosner asks, “What is the connection between Moshe requesting a successor and the korban tamid?

“The Mishkan Betzalel (Rabbi Betzalel Yehuda Rudinsky) offers a beautiful explanation linking these two seemingly distinct directives.  A leader, like a king, is totally committed to his people, constantly acting on their behalf.  There is no personal time for a king, no moment when he is free from responsibility.  He is on duty 24/7.  Moshe’s request of HKB”H was that He would appoint a leader who is like a king, like a shepherd.  Just like sheep cannot be abandoned for a moment, so too, Bnei Yisrael cannot be abandoned for a moment.

“HKB”H replies to Moshe: You are asking that Bnei Yisrael should have a constant leader?  You are asking Me to do something constant for them?  Tell them to do something constant for Me.  The korban tamid is offered twice daily.  Please have Bnei Yisrael offer a daily sacrifice to show they are constantly connected to Me.  If Bnei Yisrael do that for me, I will provide them with a leader that will care for them.

“… The significance of the korban tamid, as its name implies, lies in its constancy and consistency.  It is the same sacrifice that we offer each morning and evening.  It symbolizes the way we are required to approach our avodat Hashem.  Indeed – Shachrit and Mincha were instituted based on the korban tamid.  We cannot have an attitude of, ‘Oh, I davened and learned yesterday, let me take a break today.’  We must act in a consistent, persistent and unrelenting manner.  If we serve G-d with consistency, He will provide us with the constant supervision and guidance of devoted and dedicated leaders” (Shalom Rav, v.II, p.281-283).

As we enter the summer months, this is an especially relevant, timely and pertinent lesson and reminder.  Our level of avodas Hashem should not change based on vacations we may take, new places and environments we may visit, and new situations we find ourselves in.  To be an eved Hashem is to live by the maxim of שִׁוִּיתִי ה’ לְנֶגְדִּי תָמִיד, I have placed Hashem before me always and consistently (Tehillim 16:8).  

Parshas Pinchas teaches us that when we are consistent in our service of G-d, middah k’neged middah (measure for measure), He will be consistent in the care and providence He provides for us, and to us.

Rabbi Boruch Perton relates, “When I was Mechina (in Yeshivas Ner Yisrael Baltimore), I had earned the rank of Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts.  I wanted an extra ‘out Shabos’ to attend the special celebration being held in my honor.  I asked Rebbi (Rabbi Yosef Tendler z’l), who had never heard of an Eagle Scout, for permission to go.  I explained what an Eagle Scout was, and he said, ‘You can go on one condition.  I will write a dvar Torah that you will say at the event.’  And he did.  It was about priorities and values, and stressed that the most important thing in this world is not being an Eagle Scout, but being a ben Torah.  I went, and I gave the dvar Torah.  Without exaggeration, every time I spent Shabos with him for the next thirty years, he reminded me of that dvar Torah.  In November 2010, I was spending a Shabos with Rebbi when his brother, R’ Shalom, was there.  Once again, Rebbi reminded me of that dvar Torah, saying it over to his brother at the Shabos table” (I am Your Servant, Artscroll, p.246).  

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt’l teaches that, “An individual must be the same person on the street, at home, in the office, in his bedroom, and in Shul as he is when he stands wrapped in his tallis during Ne’ilah… This idea is the underlying theme of the maxim, שִׁוִּ֬יתִי ה’ לְנֶגְדִּ֣י תָמִ֑יד.  In His audience, one’s behavior is consistent” (Machzor Ha’Rav la’R”H, p. 577-579).  

In our every day lives, may we place G-d before us always and consistently, and in His great compassion, may He place us and our needs before Him tamid, always and consistently.

בברכת בשורות טובות ושבת שלום,

Michal

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