Letter and Spirit

For the week ending 2 June 2018 / 19 Sivan 5778

Parshat Beha'alotcha

by Rabbi Yosef Hershman
Library Library Library

Timing is Everything

Certain offerings are required by the Torah to be brought b’moado, at their designated time. We find this term specifically in reference to the Korban Pesach (brought on the fourteenth of Nisan), and the Korban Tamid (the daily morning and afternoon offerings.) Our Sages understood the word b’moado as requiring the offering be brought at its designated time, even if that day falls out on Shabbat. This teaching is extended to all of the festival offerings, as similar terminology is used in their instruction. Thus, the normal restrictions of Shabbat are set aside, so that the daily Korban Tamid and the festival offerings may each be brought b’moado.

Rav Hirsch sheds light on the reason for this law. It appears that the factor included in the concept of b’moado expresses the same truths demonstrated also by the laws of Shabbat. The requirement of b’moado expresses these truths in such a positive manner that their realization can set aside Shabbat in the Beit Hamikdash.

The festivals are called moadim (mo’ed in the singular). As its etymology (related to vaad or l’hitva’ed) indicates a meeting, it is a time designated by G-d for us to meet with Him. We respond to this summons with an offering to G-d. All of these moadim are based on some special act of Providence, which, in turn, invested each of these times with its own special meaning for our moral elevation. Pesach commemorates our redemption from Egypt; Shavuot — the revelation at Sinai; Succot — the special protection of the clouds of glory afforded us in the desert. These moadim attest to the fundamental fact of G-d’s creation and guidance of the world, on the basis of the historical experience of our national development. In this way, all of the moadim are merely new attestations to Shabbat.

The prohibition against melachah — creative activity — on Shabbat is meant to instill an awareness of G-d as Creator and Master. By refraining from creative activity, we acknowledge that the world is not ours. The korbanot of the moadim are offered on the day of remembrance of G-d’s revelation. When melachah is done for this purpose, it does not desecrate the Shabbat, but rather sanctifies it.

This may explain the festival offerings, but what about the Korban Tamid? Because these daily morning and afternoon offerings are also qualified with b’moado, we learn that they too function as a moed, a summons to meet with G-d. Even the ordinary day can stand next to the unique events of Pesach, Shavuot and Succot in declaring G-d’s glory and mastery. The rising sun in the morning and the setting sun in the afternoon each become a mo’ed, a time that attests to G-d’s presence. At these times, we bring a korban, to seek his closeness at the time of His revelation. Accordingly, the time of the Korban Tamid is a revelation of G-d in the present just as the Shabbat attests to His revelation through Creation. Again, the melachah done for this purpose does not desecrate the Shabbat, but sanctifies it.

  • Source: Commentary, Bamidbar 9:2

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