Sedra of the Week: Pinchas
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Sedra of the Week: Pinchas

The Torah portion is explained by Rabbi Jonny Roodyn

The Sages of the Mishnah debated which is the most important verse
in the Torah. Rabbi Akiva opens the discussion by invoking the golden rule “Love your fellow as yourself” (Vayikra 19:18).

Ben Azai, however suggests “… on the day that God created man, He made him in His Image” (Bereshit 5:1).

Ben Zoma goes for the well-known declaration of faith “Shema Yisrael” (Devarim 6:4), whereas Ben Nanas also casts his vote for “Love your fellow as yourself” (Vayikra 19:18).

Shimon Ben Pazi suggests a more inclusive verse from our sedra: “The first lamb you shall sacrifice in the morning and the second lamb you shall sacrifice in the evening.” (Shemot 29:39 and Bamidbar 28:4).

The debate concludes with Rabbi Ploni standing up and declaring that the halacha is in accordance with Ben Pazi.

This is a fascinating debate whose conclusion seems rather odd.

Most of the contenders for the top spot are the usual suspects and the winner is the rank outsider. What is Ben Pazi teaching us with his verse?
Perhaps he is teaching us that love of our fellow, seeing humanity as being created in the image of God and declaring our belief in one God are indeed central themes in Judaism. However, if they are not put into practice in a consistent fashion, then they lose their value.

Ben Pazi’s verses are talking about the daily sacrifices that took place every morning and every evening without fail, the bedrock of the service in the Temple.

This is not just a message for religious observance. Rather, the Torah is teaching us a lesson for life.

Consistency allows for measurement of achievements; it creates accountability and establishes ones reputation.

When we are clear with what we expect from ourselves, people know what to expect from us.

Of course, there is always room for flexibility and spontaneity, and in the Temple, there were additional Mussaf offerings on special days and free will offerings that could be brought as one wished.

However, these were secondary to the constant daily offering.

This week we marked the fast of the 17th of Tammuz.

One of the reasons the fast was established was because on that day the daily sacrifice ceased during the period of the destruction of the
Temple.

While we do not have the ability to fulfil the mitzvah, we certainly can
internalise its message.

• Rabbi Jonny Roodyn is an educator at AISH London

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments