Transforming Mourning into Joy

Parshat Pinchas ends with a listing of the korbanot (sacrifices) which are brought to the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) on each of the holidays. At first glance, the list of the korbanot and the holidays seems out of place in a Parsha which deals with vengeance, enemies, a plague, the new census of B’nai Yisrael, the request by the daughters of Zelophchad to inherit land, God’s reiteration of the decree that Moshe would not enter the land and the promise that Yehoshua would take over.

Rav Yisrael MeRozin explains that usually Parshat Pinchas which deals with all of the holidays is read during the three weeks of mourning leading up to Tisha b’Av, the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash (although this year we read it on the sixteenth of Tamuz). In the days of the full redemption, the fast of the Seventeenth of Tamuz will be the first day of a new holiday, Tisha B’Av will be the last day of the holiday and the three weeks in between will be like Chol haMoed (the intermediate days of the holiday) as it says in the book of Yirmiyahu 31:12 “and I will turn their mourning to joy, and will comfort them and make them rejoice from their sorrow.”

According to the Sfat Emet, Parshat Pinchas mentions the korbanot in order to wake the Jewish people up to the fact that they should yearn for the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash speedily in our day. When we read the section of the Torah about the korbanot on Shabbat it is received by God as if we actually offered up sacrifices. Even in the days of the Beit Hamikdash, the main service was the prayers (rather than the korbanot) since prayer combines thought, speech and action.

As we approach the Seventeenth of Tamuz, the three weeks and Tisha B’Av lets pray that Yirmiyahu’s prophecy will come true and that our mourning will turn into joy. After all who would object to having three more weeks of holidays!