By Rabbi Dr. Meir Tamari
Part of the revolt of Phsyscha against the popular and mass orientated
Chassidic movement was focused on the role of the Rebbe. They saw this
role as primarily one of a teacher and spiritual leader, rather than the
widespread concept of satisfying the material needs of the people and
praying for their welfare. As a result they also downgraded the role of a
miracle maker. There was also a keen discussion as to whether the leader
chose his flock or whether they chose him. This is an important part of
the teachings of the Masters of this school--The Yehudi HaKadosh, Simcha
Bunem and Menachem Mendel of Kotsk--so it is not surprising therefore, to
find in the Shem Mi Shmuel references to the role of the leader and his
function. He brings such references in his comments to this week's Sedra.
"Let G-d, appoint a leader over the congregation" (26: 16). To this
request of Moses God replied, "Before you demand that I act for My sons,
demand that My sons act for Me". The question arises why should the demand
of Israel to bring sacrifices that follows in our parshah, be the answer
to the request for a leader who would take the people into Israel after
Moses. A Jewish leader is required to be able to transform the individual
abilities and needs of each person to weld them all into one united
purpose. This is similar to the role of a general who knows the abilities
and weaknesses of each soldier and unit, yet is able to allocate his
resources in such a way as to create an efficient fighting unit. So too in
spiritual matters and Divine worship; although each person wishes to
achieve the same goal, nevertheless, each one has his own concept of how
this is to be done. So the leader in Israel needs to guide each person
according to the source of their souls, yet within a community of purpose.
However, this can only be done if they all have the same end or purpose in
mind, otherwise the leader can do nothing to help them. The ability of the
Rebbe to guide them is dependent on and determined by, this characteristic
of the Chassidim. If they lack a common religious and spiritual goal, the
Rebbe can achieve nothing.
His father, the Avnei Nezer, explained that this is why the daily
sacrifices in the Temple [Temidim] were offered from sheep and not cattle
that are considered to be superior offerings. The Midrash explains that
sheep have only one voice and, so too Israel has only a united heart to
serve their Father in Heaven.
This is why Moses asked HaShem not to accept the offerings of Korach and
his followers, as he knew that they have a relationship to the temidim
[congregational] offerings. Korach and his congregation wished to bring
disunity and separation into Israel and this is contrary to the purpose of
the Temidim. That explains why Moses, who was filled with Ahavat Yisrael
and always prayed for their welfare, nevertheless did not pray for Korach
and his followers. After all, the power of prayer comes only from the
communal and national aspects, and the individual’s prayers feed into the
communal ones; when one prays for a sick individual for example, it is
together with all the sick of Israel.
This communal nature of the Temidim can help us to understand why there
are no Chatat sacrifices on Shabbat, like there are on every other
festival. Sin comes because a person has been separated from this
communal/ national source and so evil thoughts and actions can attach
themselves to him. On the Shabbat there is no possibility for such actions
to attach themselves to us since it is a day permeated with the Torah of
Israel. All the judgments and conflicts of our life are pushed aside, so
therefore there is no need for the Chatat. We see that when the sanctuary
was at Shilo kodshim kalim could be eaten as long as one was in sight of
the sanctuary. As the sanctuary was in the tribal area of Joseph-Ephraim
who possessed the ability to keep the covenant irrespective of the
pressures and temptations placed on him, there was no necessity to erect
walls around it as in the case of Jerusalem. The unity of purpose in the
Temple, enclosed within the walls of Jerusalem, was manifest in the fact
that there never was any one who sinned within those walls. So the
individual should make every effort to keep themselves away from the
thoughts that lead to sin and to keep the covenant, irrespective of the
pressures and temptations.
Menachem Mendel of Kotsk taught that Pinchas would have succeeded Moses if
he had been suitable. Moses indeed considered Pinchas to be suitable to
succeed him, because of his actions with Zimri. The letter ‘Yud’ in
HaShem’s name represents a unity or a perfect state. At Shittim Israel
deformed the ‘Yud’ when they rejected the Covenant and Pinchas redeemed
that letter. The Zohar relates the ‘romach’, spear, that Pinchas took to
kill Zimri to the 248 words of the Shema that correspond to the numerical
value of those letters. Peace is the fusion of two negatives so Moses
thought that since God had rewarded him with the covenant of peace,
Pinchas would be able to combine the two contradictory roles of King and
Priest, even as he himself had done.
Shem Mi Shmuel, Pinchas 5670.
Text Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Meir Tamari and Torah.org.
r. Tamari is a renowned economist, Jewish scholar, and founder of the Center For Business Ethics (www.besr.org) in Jerusalem.