Parshat Pinchas -
The Internal Structure of the Holiday Torah Reading

(To prepare for this shiur,
see the questions for self study.)

You may not have noticed, but on every Jewish holiday (including Rosh Chodesh) the Torah reading - either the entire reading or at least the "maftir" section - is always from Parshat Pinchas!

Likewise, we include a quote from Parshat Pinchas in every musaf prayer that we daven.

As we will see in our study of chapters 28-29, the reason is very simple. Hopefully, this week's shiur will also enhance your appreciation of "tfilat Musaf."

The second half of Parshat Pinchas (i.e. chapters 28-29) presents a lengthy set of mitzvot that, at first glance, appears to describe the 'Jewish Holidays.' However, as we study this unit more closely, we'll notice that a more accurate title for this unit would be 'Parshat ha'T'midim u'Musafim.' This distinction will help us better understand why the holidays come up again here, in Sefer Bamidbar, even though they were already discussed at length in Parshat Emor (in Sefer Vayikra 23).

An Organized Unit
Before we begin, let's take a quick glance at chapters 28-29 (preferably using a Tanach Koren). Note that although the holidays themselves don't appear until 28:16, a new "dibur" opens this chapter (see 28:1), indicating that all the mitzvot included between 28:1 and 30:1 form a single unit.

[Note also that 30:1 closes this unit, as it records the fulfillment of God's command in 28:1. (Compare also with Vayikra 23:1 and 23:44.) It seems as though 'King James' (i.e. the Bible's division into chapters) made a serious mistake in dividing these psukim into chapters: 30:1 should really have been 29:40! The 'parshiya' break, is, as usual, much more accurate.]

Therefore, to determine what ties this unit together, let's make a list of the topics included in all the parshiyot in this unit. As seen in Board #1, a very logical progression emerges. The progression within this unit is clear and straightforward. The parsha begins with the daily "korban tamid," followed by the weekly "musaf Shabbat," followed by the monthly "korban rosh chodesh," culminating with the yearly schedule of korbanot offered on the chagim, from the first month on. For this reason, the first pasuk of each of these parshiyot begins with the precise date of the respective holiday.

Curiously, each and every parshia ends with the statement, "al olat ha'tamid" or "milvad olat ha'tamid!" In other words, the Torah goes out of its way to emphasize that each of these korbanot is in addition to the daily olah offering. In fact, this is exactly why we call it musaf. The word "musaf" stems from the verb "l'hosif" - to add on. These special korbanot are offered in additionto the daily korban tamid, and hence their name - korban musaf.

Therefore, this unit begins with the korban tamid and then continues with the korbanot musaf, which come in addition to the tamid. Hence, as stated earlier, a more precise definition for this unit would be "Korbanot T'midim u'Musafim." The title "Korbanot" would have been too non-specific for this section; all the sacrifices mentioned here relate specifically to the tamid, and the "added" quality of the musaf sacrifices.

[In case you haven't figured it out yet, this list contains all the days on which we daven tfilat musaf. In fact, this is the very reason why we daven musaf. Recall that tfilat shacharit corresponds to the daily korban Tamid offered in the Bet HaMikdash. The musaf prayer is considered an addition to the standard shacharit prayer, as the korban musaf is considered an addition to the standard korban tamid.]

Parshat Emor and Parshat Pinchas
With this background, we can now better understand the difference between the presentation of the chagim in Parshat Emor (see Vayikra chapter 23) and their treatment here.

In contrast to Parshat Pinchas, whose primary concern is korbanot, the focus of Parshat Emor is the holidays themselves. In fact, the title of this section in Parshat Emor is "moadei Hashem..." - God's appointed times (23:2,4). That unit details the nature of, and specific laws regarding, each holiday. This parsha outlines the prohibition to work, the requirement to assemble the nation ("mikra'ei kodesh"), and special mitzvot for each holiday - offering the "omer," the "shtei ha'lechem," blowing shofar, fasting on Yom Kippur, sukkah, lulav and etrog, etc. [To verify, review Vayikra 23:1-44.]

[That parsha does include certain korbanot, such as those accompanying the "omer" and "shtei ha'lechem." However, those korbanot are unique and reserved for specific occasions, and, like the other special mitzvot associated with the holidays, each relates to the special nature of its respective festival.]

You'll notice that the presentation of each holiday in Parshat Emor includes the mitzvah of "v'hikravtem ishe la'Hashem - you shall bring an offering to God" [see 23:8,25,27,36]. This commandment is a most ambiguous one, as it doesn't specify which korban must be offered. However, a key summary pasuk toward the end of that unit points us directly to Parshat Pinchas:

"These are God's appointed times set aside for gathering in order to offer an ishe laHashem - an olah, mincha, zevach, and nesachim - on each day what is proper to it - dvar yom b'yomo." (see Vayikra 23:37; compare with 23:4)
What does "dvar yom b'yomo" refer to? Most likely, it directs us to the details regarding these korbanot as recorded in Parshat Pinchas! [This is exactly how Rashi interprets the pasuk (23:37).]

[We may employ our modern, technological lexicon and suggest that Parshat Emor is 'indexed' to Parshat Pinchas. That is, if each "v'hikravtem ishe" in Emor was in 'hyper-text,' it would link to its respective URL address in Pinchas (e.g. Vayikra 23:8 links to Bamidbar 28:19, etc.).]

Finally, look carefully at the names of the chagim in the opening pasuk of each parshia in Parshat Pinchas. The name used in each instance reflects the primary aspect of each chag as described in Parshat Emor. [That comparison you'll have to do on your own.] However, other than the details of the musaf, Parshat Pinchas does not add any new specific laws for any of the chagim.

The Internal Structure of Parshat HaMusafim
Let's now return to Parshat Pinchas and examine the korbanot themselves to see what they're all about.

Even though the Torah affords the korban musaf of each holiday its own, separate parshia, the korbanot themselves are quite similar in content:

Board #2 compares the specific korbanot of each chag. [If you have the time (and patience), I recommend that you try to first work it out on your own.] As you review this table, notice the similarities between most of the musafim. At the same time, pay close attention to the differences.

What emerges from this chart is a classification of the various festivals into different groups (which we may not have expected). Let's organize this grouping as follows:

Group One [2-1-7-1]:

Group Two [1-1-7-1]: Group Three [ {13-7} -2-14-1]: Double Nature
In addition to this obvious division into three groups, another intriguing phenomenon emerges from the above chart. For some reason, the olah offering on Sukkot is double. Whereas every other holiday requires the offering of one ayil and seven kvasim, on each day of Sukkot we double these offerings, offering two and fourteen (rams and sheep, respectively) instead! Furthermore, the number of parim 'explodes' on Sukkot. Instead of just one or two parim, the first day of Sukkot requires thirteen! Even more enigmatic is the incremental decrease of one par each day throughout the seven days of Sukkot.

So what's behind the korbanot on Sukkot?

One could suggest that Sukkot should not be considered a separate, third category, but rather a combination of the other two. Let's explain why.

On the one hand, Sukkot could very easily be included in Group One, which contains the other two "regalim" (i.e. Chag HaMatzot and Shavuot). On the other hand, Sukkot could also join Group Two, which contains all the other holidays in the seventh month (i.e. "chagei Tishrei").

Sukkot fits into both groups conceptually, as well. On the one hand, it is a festival of thanksgiving (like the holidays in Group One), as we thank God for the harvest; this is why Hallel is recited on Sukkot. On the other hand, it is also a time of awe (like the holidays in Group Two), as we anticipate the rainy season, which will determine the fate of the forthcoming year; this is why Hoshanot are recited on Sukkot.

This 'double nature' of Sukkot can explain why its korbanot are double - two eilim instead of one and fourteen kvasim instead of seven. (See Board #5.) But what about the parim? According to this interpretation, we should bring only three on each day of Sukkot. So why do we bring an 'extra' ten on the first day, an extra nine on the second, etc.?

It's rather cute, but if we add up all the 'extras' - 10+9+8+7+6+5+4 - we arrive at a grand total of 49 [=7x7] extra parim. Now this number, or any multiple of seven, is commonplace within the context of the festivals. The number seven in Chumash always relates to our recognition that God alone controls what we perceive as nature (see shiurim on both Parshat Breishit and on Parshat Emor). This awareness becomes ever more critical on Sukkot - the junction (and 'overlap') between the end of the previous agricultural year (the final harvest) and the beginning of the new one (the upcoming rainy season).

Then, if we add these 49 parim to the original 21 parim [3 x 7 days], we find that a total of seventy parim are offered during Sukkot. Chazal point out that these seventy bulls are representative of the seventy nations of mankind. [See shiur on Parshat Noach.] (See Board #6.)

In any case, there is definitely more in the parsha that meets the eye. Clearly, a comprehensive analysis lies beyond the scope of the shiur.

[If you want to find additional meaning to the number 7 or 49 [=7x7] in relation to the 7 days of Sukkot in the 7th month, ask your local kabbalist, "v'akmal."]

In summary, we have shown that what appears to be a rather monotonous list of korbanot may actually contain some very fundamental aspects of the "chagim." Hopefully, next time you daven musaf, you will better understand what the prayer is all about, and your tfilah will be a bit more meaningful.

Virtual ClassRoom enhancements by Reuven Weiser.

For Further Iyun
1. In case you are not familiar with the structure of tfilat Musaf, this synopsis might be helpful: after the standard opening three brachot, we recite a "piyut" expressing our sorrow (and our guilt) over the absence of the Bet HaMikdash (e.g. "mipnei chata'einu," "tikanta shabbat..." etc.). That "piyut" concludes with our wish that the Bet HaMikdash be rebuilt so that we can once again offer the korbanot. We then quote the psukim from Parshat Pinchas relevant to the korban of that particular day, and offer a brief description of its nesachim. This recitation is followed by yet another piyut (e.g. "yismchu b'malchutcha" or "melech rachaman..."), and we conclude this section of Musaf with the bracha of "kedushat ha'yom" (e.g. "m'kadesh ha'Shabbat," "Yisrael v'hazmanim"). The service ends with the standard three concluding brachot.

2. Note that Bet Shamai's shita that we begin Channukah by lighting eight candles and conclude with one is based on a comparison to parei haChag - the parim of Sukkot.

3. The only korban that doesn't change for any holiday is the "se'ir izim l'chatat." This korban atones for any sin committed by Am Yisrael in the Mikdash. The "se'ir izim" is chosen as it is symbolic of the sin of Yosef's brothers, who used a "se'ir" to 'cover up' their sin. See Ramban!

4. See also the previous shiur on Rosh HaShana for a more complete explanation as to why Tishrei (at the beginning of the rainy season) was chosen as the month of judgment.

5. Note the machloket between Ramban and everyone else whether the korbanot musaf were offered in the desert or only once Bnei Yisrael entered the land. Relate Ramban's stance on this issue to his general "shita" regarding "yeish mukdam u'muchar ba'Torah". [See Ramban on 28:2 and on Vayikra 23:2.]

Relate this discussion to the above shiur.

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