Aaron’s grandson Pinchas is rewarded for his act ofzealotry in killing the Head of the tribe of Shimon, Zimri and the Midianite princess who was his paramour: Hashem grants him acovenant of peace and the priesthood.
A census of the people counts601,730 men between the ages of twenty and sixty. Moshe is instructed on how the Land is to be divided bylottery among the tribes and families of Israel. The fivedaughters of Tzelafchad petition Moshe that they be granted the portion of the land belonging to their father, who died without sons; Hashem accepts their claim and incorporates it into the Torah’slaws of inheritance.
Moshe empowers Yehoshua to succeed him and lead the people into the Land of Israel.
The Parshah concludes with a detailed list of thedaily offerings, and the additional offerings brought on Shabbos,Rosh Chodesh (first of the month), and the festivals of Pesach,Shavuos,Rosh Hashanah,Yom Kippur,Sukkos andShemini Atzeres.
Parshas Pinchas contains a long list of sacrifices that are brought on various occasions. The first offering that the Torah discusses is the Korban Tamid – the Daily Sacrifice. When the Bais HaMikdash [Temple] is standing, there is a Biblical command to offer a Tamid Offering, every single day: “One Lamb is to be offered in the morning and one Lamb is to be brought toward the evening” [Bamidbar 28:4]. This offering is brought every day of the year, even on Shabbos, even on Yom Kippur.
There is something beautiful about consistency. But consistency does have one major pitfall. This pitfall is hinted to, by an incongruous pasuk [verse] in the middle of the chapter of the Daily Sacrifice. For no apparent reason, the Torah inserts a pasuk into the middle of the description of the Korban Tamid: “The continual Burnt Offering, which was made at Mt. Sinai for a pleasant aroma, a Fire Offering, before HaShem [Bamidbar 28:6].”
What does the Olah that was brought on Mt. Sinai have to do with this section about the Daily Sacrifice? That which happened on Mt. Sinai is history! Why is it mentioned in the middle of the section of the Korban Tamid?
Rav Yosef Salant says that there is also a very important hashkafic point that we derive from the presence this pasuk. That hashkafic point relates to this pitfall of consistency. When something is done day in day out, as wonderful as it may be, it eventually becomes done by
rote. It becomes stale. It becomes automatic, without thought.
On any ordinary day, we might arrive at Shachris late and quickly put on our Tefillin in the time between Yishtabach and Borchu [names of specific prayers] and still have time to answer ‘Yehei Shmei Rabba’. That is the amount of time it takes us to put on Tefillin! However, a person only needs to have the nachas of seeing a son put on Tefillin for the first time, to recall a very different process. Watch a Bar Mitzvah boy put on Tefillin, making sure they are straight and making sure they are tight enough and that every strap is in order. What is the difference? The difference is that we may have been putting on Tefillin for forty years. On the one hand that is great — it is ‘Tamid’. We can look back and say, we never missed a day! But that ‘Tamid’ becomes ‘old hat’ and sometimes lacks the true meaning of the Mitzvah. That is the pitfall of Tamid.
Therefore, the Torah inserts, “The Continuous Burnt Offering that was offered on Mt. Sinai for a pleasant Aroma, a Fire Offering before HaShem,” in the middle of the parsha of the Korban Tamid that applies for all generations.
Remember that first Tamid! Remember that the Tamid that was brought on Har Sinai with tremendous enthusiasm, newness and excitement. Remember that! There should always be a little of that Tamid in the Tamid that is brought every single day.
That is the way it should be with our Tefillin and with our Kerias Shemah and with our Shmoneh Esreis [names of specific prayers]. We cannot lose the whole benefit of consistency by letting that very benefit become a pitfall.