Two Perspectives, One Holiday by Moshe Davis


In Parashat Pinchas, the Torah discusses the Chagim and their various Korbanot. This section in the Torah is present despite the previous description of the holidays in Parashat Emor. As a rule seen throughout the Mishnah and Gemara, we know that the Torah doesn’t repeat anything without a reason. Why does Hashem find it necessary to teach us the holidays once again?

To answer this question, we must look at the differences between the two passages. Parashat Pinchas explains which Korbanot must be brought on all the holidays, while Parashat Emor describes the essence of the holiday, including the Mitzvot connected to each one. In contrast, the particular Mitzvot of each Chag aren’t elaborated upon in Parashat Pinchas.

Clearly, these two Parshiyot, though focusing on the Chagim, have two completely separate focuses. While Parashat Emor focuses on the Mitzvot of the holiday, Parashat Pinchas includes the name and date of each holiday. By stating the name and date of each holiday, a connection can be made between the Mitzvot listed for that holiday in Emor.

At the same time, Parashat Emor is lacking the details regarding the Korbanot brought on each holiday. The only reference to the Korbanot in Parashat Emor is, “ViHikravtem Ishe LaHashem” “You shall bring an offering to Hashem” (VaYikra 23:8). Parashat Pinchas is coming to teach us the details regarding the offerings of each holiday. In fact, while discussing Sukkot, the Torah states, “LiHakriv Ishe LaHashem Olah UMincha, Zevach UNesachim Devar Yom BeYomo,” “To offer up an offering to Hashem, burnt offering and meal offering, sacrifice and libations, the requirement of each day on its day” (Vayikra 23:37). Rashi there (s.v. Devar Yom BeYomo) comments to look in Parashat Pinchas for more specific details on which offerings to bring. Therefore, these two aspects of a Chag, its Mitzvot and Korbanot, are represented by the different focuses contained in Parshiyot Pinchas and Emor. While these Parshiyot seem to be speaking about similar topics, a look at the main theme discussed in each Parashah proves otherwise.

Another interesting point regarding these Parshiyot is that while Parashat Pinchas includes Rosh Chodesh in its list of the holidays, Parashat Emor omits any mention of it. By analyzing the reason why Rosh Chodesh is absent in Parashat Emor, another answer can be given to our original question.

Every topic in Parashat Emor discusses the holidays of the year, yet Shabbat, which is different than every holiday mentioned, is also present in this section. While by each holiday the phrase “VeHikeravtem Isheh LaHashem,” “You shall bring a fire-offering to Hashem” VaYikra 23:8) appears, no such phrase appears by Shabbat. Furthermore, the Torah states, “Eileh Mo’adei Hashem… Milvad Shabbetot Hashem” “These are the appointed festivals of Hashem...Aside from Hashem’s Sabbaths” (Vayikra 23:37-38), which seems to clearly indicate that Shabbat is excluded from the group. Despite these major differences between Shabbat and the other Chagim, Shabbat is included in this section; why, then, is Rosh Chodesh not included in this section too? Ramban (23:2 s.v. Dabeir El Bnei Yisrael) states that there is a different category that Shabbat and all the holidays fall into as they are all referred to as, “Mikra’ei Kodesh” because of their elevated status and prohibition against work. Because Rosh Chodesh is not a “Mikra Kodesh” due to the permissibility of doing work on it, Rosh Chodesh is absent from Parashat Emor.

Furthermore, one might think that Rosh Chodesh, even more so than Shabbat, should be included in the list of holidays as it is determined by the sighting of the moon and a subsequent testimony in a Beit Din by witnesses. In order to dissolve such an erroneous claim, the Torah makes a clear differentiation between Rosh Chodesh and the other special days when it states, “UVYom Simchatchem UVeMo’adeichem UVeRoshei Chodsheichem,” “And on the day of your joy and on your festivals and on your Rosh Chodashim” (BeMidbar 10:10). Therefore, the list of holidays in Parashat Emor does not contain Rosh Chodesh; it is only when the Torah describes the Korbanot of each holiday in Parashat Pinchas that Rosh Chodesh is included, as Korbanot are brought on Rosh Chodesh just like on the holidays.

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