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Simcha Groffman

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Parashas Pinchas

Hashem's Servants Praise

"Avi, let us now begin our study of the first chapter of Hallel. 'Halleluka! Give praise, you servants of Hashem; praise the Name of Hashem!'ii Tehillim 113:1 We, Klal Yisrael - Hashem's servants - are bidden to praise Him in this first verse of Hallel. The Medrash Shochar Tov relates the riveting story of how we came to merit praising the Almighty.

"One finds twenty-six generations from the creation of the universe until Klal Yisrael left Mitzrayim. During that entire time, Hallel was not said. When the Bnei Yisrael were freed from the servitude of bricks and mortar in Mitzrayim, they said Hallel. At what point? During the plague of makkas bechoros (the killing of the first-born). Mitzrayim was in pandemonium, for in every home there was at least one dead bechor. Pharaoh got up in the middle of the night and went to Moshe and Aharon, as the verse states, 'He called to Moshe and Aharon at night'.iii Shemos 12:31 He knocked on their door, asking them to leave Mitzrayim. They said to him, 'Fool! At night, we stay put. Are we thieves that we go out at night? In the morning, we will leave. Wait until morning, for the Holy One told us, "No man shall leave the entrance of his house until morning".'iiii Shemos 12:22 Pharaoh said to them, 'Behold all of Mitzrayim is dying!' They said to him, 'You must request that this makko be terminated.' He said, 'Behold, you are free men. Behold you are your own bosses. Behold, you are servants of the Holy One, blessed be He.' Pharaoh began to scream, 'In the past you were my slaves, but now you are free men! You are in your own hands! You are servants of the Holy One, blessed be He! You must praise Him because you are His servants, as the verse states, "Halleluka! Give praise you servants of Hashem!".'"1

"That is quite a compelling declaration, Abba."

"Precisely, Avi. You see that we still say Hallel to this very day. There is another verse, which reiterates the fact that we are servants of the Almighty, 'For the Children of Israel are servants to Me'.iiv Vayikra 25:55 The Sfas Emmesvv cited in the Metsuda Siddur points out that servitude is usually accompanied by unhappiness and depression, causing the slaves to seek ways of escaping from their master to attain freedom. Serving Hashem, however, brings happiness; the Jew seeks ways to serve Hashem and joyfully accepts 'Ole Malchus Shomayim (the Yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven)'.

"The Alshichvvi cited by the Maase Nissim in the Siddur Otzer HaTefillos lends a deeper meaning to this verse. 'Hallelu-ka' - the Name of 'Ka' refers to Hashem's middah of din (strict judgment). 'Hallel' means glorification. How is Hashem glorified through His middas ha'din? One would think that middas ha'din highlight His severity, not His glory. However, even the suffering of the golus of Mitzrayim showed the Almighty's glory. After being slaves to Pharaoh, Hashem acquired us as His servants (as we learned in the Medrash). Secondly, His Mighty Name became known to the entire world by way of the signs and wonders that He wrought on Mitzrayim. This was the fulfillment of the shelaymus (perfection) that Avraham Avinu longed for - that his descendants make Hashem's monarchy known to the world. Therefore, the first verse of Hallel bespeaks our merit. We, Hashem's servants, were the means by which the Almighty publicized His Name, His might, and His hashgacha (supervision) to the world."

"That is quite a privilege for us, Abba."

"Indeed it is, Avi. And so, we continue with the second verse, 'Blessed be the Name of Hashem, from this time and forever'.vvii Tehillim 113:2 This refers to our daily brochos. For every pleasure that we enjoy in this world, for every mitzvah that we are privileged to fulfill, and on every thanks that we express, we say, 'Blessed are You Hashem'."vviii Eitz Yosef

"We seem to have switched subjects, Abba, from hallel (praise) to bracha (blessing)."

"What an astute observation, Avi! The Malbim asks this very question! He relates that the difference between hallel and bracha is that hallel speaks of Hashem's greatness and exaltedness. Even the nations of the world perceive and concur with this. Bracha refers to His constant input into the world. He personally supervises every aspect of our lives. The nations deny this, claiming that He sits in heaven and leaves the world to run by itself. Therefore, we are commanded to bless His Name (by making brochos) from this time and forever, thereby declaring the truth to the world. 'Blessed are You Hashem, our G-d, King of the world.' When we make a bracha, the first thing that we do is declare His eternity (Adnus) and His monarchy (Elokus - control and personal supervision of the world). It seems to me, Avi, that this is what the Gemoraiix Brachos 12a, 40b and the Shulchan Aruchxx Orach Chaim 214 are referring to when they say that any bracha that does not mention (Hashem's) Name and (His) monarchy is not a bracha."

"Abba, it is truly a privilege to praise and bless Hashem, the Almighty Creator of the universe!"

"May we sincerely appreciate this merit, and praise Him properly."


Kinderlach . . .

Hashem is the Master of the universe. He created it and supervises every event that takes place. At no time was this more evident than Yetzias Mitzrayim. The Almighty showed His mastery with the eser makkos and the kriyas Yom Suf. During the last makko, Pharaoh himself declared that we were no longer his servants, rather ovdei Hashem, and as such, we should praise Him. Our tefillah of Hallel is that praise. Additionally, with every blessing we make, we declare Hashem's control and personal supervision of the world. What a privilege! Kinderlach, say Hallel and make brochos with a renewed appreciation of the greatness of the Boray (creator), and our unique privilege of being the nation who demonstrated and declares this to the world.

A Big Sacrifice

"For on the Seventeenth of Tammuz, the Korbon Tomid ceased."

"For on the Seventeenth of Tammuz, the Korbonos Olah and Zevach ceased."

"For on the Seventeenth of Tammuz, the service of the Korbonos ceased."

We will recite these words during the selichos on the Seventeenth of Tammuz. It was indeed a dark day in Jewish history. A day which marked the end of the Korbonos and their Temple service. Of what value were the Korbonos? What did we lose?

The Medrash Rabba (Pinchas 21:21) relates that there was never a man in Yerushalayim with a sin in his hand. How could this be? The morning Tomid would atone for sins of the night. The late afternoon Tomid would atone for sins of the day. How wonderful! A life without sin! The Korbon Todah was a means of expressing our thanks to Hashem. Every Yom Tov was celebrated with Korbonos. The chagiga and reiya are two examples. Korbonos made it possible to be a nozir. The Parah Aduma allowed us to be tahor. Over 170 of the 613 mitzvos are connected to korbonos. Life in the times of the Beis HaMikdash was on a different spiritual plane.

Kinderlach . . .

We have no Korbonos. So much has been lost. Yet, there is hope. We do have a substitute. The verse states, "vi'nashalma parim sifaseinu" (and we will repay with the oxen of our lips)[Hoshea 14:3]. Our sages darshen this to mean that words of tefillah and learning about korbonos serve in place of the actual sacrifices. Our prayers serve as Korbonos. Specifically the recitation of the Korbons themselves. It just takes a few extra minutes before the shacharis (morning) and mincha (afternoon) prayers. Say the korbonos. Learn about them and understand them. New worlds will open up to you. Your life will be richer. Sacrifice the time for sacrifices.

i Tehillim 113:1
ii Shemos 12:31
iii Shemos 12:22
iv Vayikra 25:55
v cited in the Metsuda Siddur
vi cited by the Maase Nissim in the Siddur Otzer HaTefillos
vii Tehillim 113:2
viii Eitz Yosef
ix Brachos 12a, 40b
x Orach Chaim 214

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