By Rabbi Avraham
Fischer. A publication of the Orthodox Union in cooperation with the Seymour
J. Abrams Orthodox Union Jerusalem World Center
June 29, 2002
One generation has passed and a new generation has arisen to
take its place. Accordingly, new leaders are chosen and charged with their
tasks. Models of the next generation’s leadership are introduced to us:
Pinchas, Elazar, the tribal chiefs, the daughters of Tzelofchad and, of
Moshe is instructed to prepare to end his mission of leading the Wilderness
generation. Hashem commands him to
“Ascend this Mountain of Avarim and see the land which I have given to the
Children of Israel” (Bamidbar 27:12).
Hirsch (Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, 1808-1888) translates
Avarim as Transition. We, as well as Moshe, are granted a view from the
“Mountain of Transition” into the future. Moshe places his hands on Yehoshua’s
head to appoint him as his successor.
What follows, however, seems out of place:
And Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying, “Command the Children of Israel and say to
them: My offering, My food for My sacrifices made by fire, My pleasant aroma,
shall you guard to offer to Me in its appointed time (B’MO’ADO”)
This, says Haamek Davar (R. Naftali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin,
1817-1893), is an introductory verse for the section that follows, which
provides a detailed description of each of the community sacrifices offered at
an appointed time (MO’ED). MO’ADIM present the dimension of Time in all its
divisions during the course of the year:
• The day - the T’midim, offered
every morning and afternoon.
• The week - the additional offering (musaf) for
• The month - the musaf for the new month (Rosh
• The year - the musafim for each of the festivals:
Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.
Why is this section describing sacrifices placed here? Would it not have been
more fitting to include this in the discussion of the festivals in Vayikra (ch.
23) which, in any case, is the book of sacrifices? Also, why is this placed
after the appointment of Yehoshua?
Rashi, quoting from the Sifrei (142), cites an allegory: A princess lying on her
deathbed directed her husband to treat her children well. Whereupon, her husband
said, “Before you instruct me regarding them, you would do well to instruct them
to obey me, and I will naturally treat them well.” Similarly, Moshe had asked
Hashem to be good to the people by granting them a leader, but Hashem replies
that, if they are obedient to His Will by offering the T’midim, He will be good
to them in every respect.
Haamek Davar argues that the purpose of the T’midim would change upon the entry
of the people into the land of Israel. As long as they were in the desert, the
T’midim maintained the prophetic contact between Hashem and Moshe, in whose
merit the manna fell. However, when they would enter the land, the manna would
stop and the people would need to provide food for themselves. The T’midim would
establish the people’s merit to care for their material needs.
According to the Yalkut Shimoni (p. 542, col. 1), the people of Israel assumed
that the T’midim were brought only as long as they were journeying through the
wilderness; once they were no longer traveling there would be no T’midim.
Therefore, Hashem commanded them that the T’midim would continue even when they
would be safely settled in the Land of Israel.
Zayit Ra’anan (commentary on Yalkut Shimoni by R. Avraham Abele ben Chaim HaLevi
Gombiner, c. 1637-1683, the Magen Avraham) explains that, as long as they
journeyed through the wilderness, they needed to sacrifice in every place where
the Mishkan was set up, but at the time the Sanctuary would be established in
one place and the sacrifices would be offered once, it would not be necessary to
The people assumed that regular religious action is needed only in the uncertain
and inconstant reality of the wilderness, but that in the stable environment of
the Land of Israel, their spiritual state would be sustained.
This idea is remarkably similar to the argument offered by many in Israel today,
that the rituals of Judaism are needed in the Diaspora to provide Jews with an
identity, but in the State of Israel national identity takes their place.
But Hashem points out the flaw in this assumption:
“Command the Children of Israel and say to them: My offering, My food for My
sacrifices made by fire, My pleasant aroma, shall you guard to offer to Me in
its appointed time (B’MO’ADO).”
Although the above commentaries focus on the T’midim, the idea
can be extended to all the sacrifices that consecrate each division of time, the
MO’ADIM. In Israel, as in the wilderness, constant connection to Hashem must be
Devotion to Hashem is not a function of place, but of time. Our service to
Hashem is TAMID, constant; it is regulated by the MOADIM of the day, week, month
and year by every occasion we encounter.
When the people of Israel stand on the brink of a new era of stability, they
need to be reminded all the more that when they cease to journey in space, they
will continue to move forward in time. Additionally, they will need to sanctify
each MOED, every station in their journey through time.
Moreover, their leaders at every level, those who provide the people with their
greatest sense of rootedness and stability in the Land of Israel, need to stand
at the forefront of this sanctification of time. Together with the ongoing
devotion of the community, the leaders of Israel can guide the people of Israel
toward a sanctified future.