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One For All and All For One* – Parshat Pinchas

One For All and All For One* – Parshat Pinchas

What a wonderful feeling to have finally solved a question that’s been bugging me for years. In retelling the reasons for the fast day of the 17th of Tammuz, one of the 5 major reasons, or catastrophes, that befell the Jewish people on that day was the cancellation of the daily sacrifice. For years it bugged me – I could understand that the cancellation of the daily sacrifice was serious but couldn’t wrap my head around why it was considered so serious that it was one of the major reasons to institute a fast day,1 especially when compared with the other events mentioned there. It seemed disproportionate – like it didn’t belong.

Until today.

The daily sacrifice described in Parshat Pinchas was not just a sacrificial obligation. In commanding us to bring this sacrifice, the Torah uses a very peculiar term. “make sure that it is brought on time.”2 There is almost no other positive commandment in the Torah which has this extra admonition to ‘make sure’ it gets done on time. Rabbi Hirsch, supported by rabbinic sources explains that this particular sacrifice was one that was required to be bought with public funding. Furthermore, there were 24 representationally-manned shifts from among the Kohanim, Leviyim and Yisraelim throughout the year to ensure that it was being done properly. Every day, we as one people, were to turn our attention towards the temple in Jerusalem. We were to make sure that as a people, it was being performed properly. The day the sacrifice was prevented from being brought was a national catastrophe – we stopped acting as one. We no longer had a time every day where we felt allegiance to one another. The very social fabric was torn from us. Therein lay the reason for the fast. We stopped acting together. And that is a catastrophe.

We are a single people part of a single race. We have a responsibility to our people and we have a responsibility to our race. We are in this business of life together. We all have our own meaning. We all have ultimate meaning.3 We also all have a responsibility to others. The ‘Give it Forward’ movement emphasizes this point.

Even Abraham Maslow, who spoke of self-actualization as the highest of human needs, recognized that self-actualization needs to have an element of other-directedness to be truly successful and actualizing.

The call of the Musketeers, “One For All and All For One” exemplifies this idea as well. We are in this together.

When we realize our unity as a people and as a race, we can work wonders.

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*. This was the rallying cry of different groups in Europe probably since the 17th century and became popular                    through the work of Alexander Dumas, “The Three Musketeers.”

  1. Mishnah Taanit 4:6
  2. Bamidbar 28:2 and view Rabbi Hirsch’s commentary.
  3. Viktor Frankl has written books on both of these concepts.
  4. Maslow in a later book wrote about this addition to his original concepts