Weekly Sidra: Phinehas (Pinchas)
Torah Portion: Bamidbar/ Numbers 25:10-30:1
Haftorah: Yermiyahu / Jeremiah: 1:1-2:3
They shall come, and shall each set up a throne Before the gates of Jerusalem, Against its walls roundabout, And against all the towns of Judah. (Jeremiah 1:14)
This week we read a special Haftarah portion which is part of the three weeks of mourning the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
This period begins on the 17th of Tammuz and ends on the 9th of Av or Tisha B’av. During this time there are two fast days. There is one at the beginning from sun up to sundown and one at the end which commences from the night before for about 26 hours. This makes the last day the longest fast day on the Jewish calendar. Yom Kippur is only 25 hours.
The three week period is known as Bein HaMitzarim or in the straits. The three Sabbaths are referred to as Tlata de puranta or the three weeks of destruction. The first Shabbat is Shabbat Hazon or Sabbath of the vision.
Tisha B’av is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. This is because so many tragedies befell the Jewish people on this day. This includes both the destruction of the first Temple (586 BCE) and the second Temple (70 CE), the expulsion of Jews from Spain, Moses shatters the tablets, etc.
Why do we Jews need to observe Tisha B’av today? I believe the main reason is to mourn for the Holy Temple and to yearn for its being re-built. The rebuilding of the Temple signifies the coming of Mashiach. However, not only are we morning the Temple, but we also need to mourn our lack of unity. As long as there are people who oppose the rebuilding of the Temple then Mashiach will never appear!!
Mashiach and the Temple are inextricably linked. We know that our Rabbi Yeshua was zealous for his Father’s house. "It is written," he said to them, "’My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’"(Matthew 21:13) We too must have this passion.
Why was the Second Temple destroyed? The Sages in Yoma 9b noted that the people at that time studied Torah, observed mitzvot and performed good deeds. Their great failure was in sinat chinam – baseless hatred. It was internal strife and conflict that ultimately brought about the Temple’s destruction.
Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935) was the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of the British Mandatory Palestine. He used to go and talk to every Jew. The one’s living on Kibbutzim, the socialist Jews and even the most secular of all the Jews. The religious leaders of the day were astonished asking why he spent so much time talking to every Jew, even the most secular ones. His response was this:
"If we were destroyed, and the world with us, due to baseless hatred, then we shall rebuild ourselves, and the world with us, with baseless love — ahavat chinam. (Orot HaKodesh vol. III, p. 324)
This echoes the words of our Rabbi Yeshua “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Yochanan 13:34-35)
Therefore, in the three weeks leading up to Tisha B’av let us strive to study Torah, do mitzvot (commandments), and most important let us be accused of baseless love.
Tags: 17th of tammuz, bamidbar, bce, first temple, gates of jerusalem, haftarah, holy temple, Jewish calendar, phinehas, Pinchas, rsquo, sabbaths, saddest day, second temple, Shabbat, shabbat hazon, sidra, tisha b, torah portion, yom kippur
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