Parshat Pinchas – July 3, 2021 – 23 Tammuz 5781

Daf Hashavua – A weekly digest of the Parashat Hashavua

Parshat Pinchas

  • Stone Chumash, pg. 876
  • 168 verses
  • Haftorah: Jeremiah I p. 1192 “Divrei Yirmiyahu”

Important Shabbat Times

  • Candle lighting:            8:05pm
  • Vasikin:                          5:52:26am
  • Latest Shma am:         9:30am
  • Earliest Mincha:          1:44pm
  • Havdalah:                     9:00pm
  • Zoom Havdalah:          9:30pm

General Introduction

Parshat Pinchas contains several themes:
1) The election of Pinchas to the office of Kohen, in reward for his zealotry to G-d

2) The new census and a brief historical overview

3) The complaint of the daughters of Tzelofchad

4) The election of Joshua

5) The additional sacrifices for the annual holidays

Haftorah: p. 1192  Ed. note: This week begins the three special Haftorot before Tisha B’Av. These Haftorot are known as “Shlosha dePuranuta” the three Haftoras of Castigation. Following Tisha B’Av we read the “Sheva Nechamta” the seven Haftoras of Consolation. 

The Moral of the Story

 The Rambam in The Book of Knowledge (Ch. I) tells us: “ The straight path (of righteousness) is the middle path, for all the character traits which a man possesses. This quality is equidistant from both extremes, careful not to approach either one”…i.e. “One should not eat to excess, rather sufficiently for his health, one should not overly engage in business, rather only to earn enough sufficient to his needs, one should neither be excessively jocular, nor morose or depressed, rather one should be moderately happy, and develop a balanced disposition…. One who succeeds in choosing the middle path is called Chacham (wise)”

All this is well and good, yet the Torah abounds in examples of righteous people who behaved in extremes. How does the Rambam understand the actions of Pinchas, or the many examples when the Israelites fought the wars of G-d? Rabbi Soloveitchick explains that in life there are definitely times when one must choose an extreme course in order to correct and extreme catastrophe! There are times when one is justified in coming to anger if it is to save someone from harming himself or others, or to fulfil the will of G-d. Other times it is necessary to bend over backwards not to lose your cool, if an angry response will be counterproductive. Surely if one always behaves in a zealous manner, then something is wrong. However at the end of the day, on balance, if one could look back on his life and say I have lived by the golden mean, then he is truly a Chacham!

General Laws of the “Three Weeks”

The three weeks between the 17th of Tamuz and the 9th day of Av are the saddest period of the entire Jewish calendar. Jews are generally a happy people and are commanded to be happy as much as possible (see Deut. 28/47). But just as individuals are often forced to observe mourning periods for their loved ones, so too, the Jewish people as a whole must observe public mourning for their loss of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem.  In practice, the mourning takes the following expressions:

From the 17th of Tamuz, one should refrain from shaving or cutting one’s hair.  One should refrain from participating in weddings or other elective celebrations (as opposed to a bris or pidyon haben). Over the past century or so the custom developed to refrain from listening to music. If any of the above represents a difficulty, please contact me for guidance.