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Parashat Pinhas: We are All Messengers

The Haftara read on the first Shabbat of the Three Weeks is taken from the opening chapter of the Book of Yirmiyahu, which tells of Yirmiyahu’s inaugural prophecy. When G-d first spoke to Yirmiyahu, He informed him that already before he was born, he was chosen to serve as a prophet to deliver G-d’s message to the people. Yirmiyahu then cried, "Oh, my Lord, G-d, I do not know how to speak, for I am young" (1:6).

G-d replied, "Do not say, ‘I am young’ – for you shall go everywhere I send you, and speak everything I command you" (1:7).

The Hid"a (Rav Haim Yosef David Azulai, 1724-1806) explains the deeper meaning and significance of G-d’s response to Yirmiyahu. The claim of "Na’ar Anochi" – "I am young," that one is ineligible for a certain task due to his youthfulness – is valid only if the person is acting independently, on his own. But if somebody has been assigned a mission by a person of prominence, then his youth is immaterial. Since he acts at the behest of a great person, who specifically chose him for the task, he should feel confident that he can execute the task. After all, he does what he does not for himself, but rather as the messenger of somebody far greater than him, so he has nothing to fear.

G-d therefore told Yirmiyahu that "Na’ar Anochi" is not a valid excuse, because "for you shall go everywhere I send you, and speak everything I command you." Meaning, he would be acting at G-d’s behest, as His messenger. When he would embark on his mission, this would be not his own mission, but rather the mission assigned to him by G-d. As such, he comes with the infinite power and strength of G-d Himself, and his young age is irrelevant and in no way undermines his eligibility for the task at hand.

The Mishna in Pirkeh Abot (2:1) admonishes, "Heveh Zahir Be’misva Kala Ke’ba’hamura" – "Be as careful with regard to a ‘light’ Misva as with regard to a ‘serious’ Misva." The word "Misva" means "commandment." Every time we set out to perform a Misva, we act as messengers, having been assigned to carry out this particular mission. As such, there is no such thing as a "Misva Kala" – a "light" or less significant Misva. Since every Misva has been assigned to us by the Creator of the universe, each time we perform a Misva we act as His messengers, which is the greatest, most precious, and most important mission imaginable. We must therefore approach each and every Misva with zeal and enthusiasm, relishing the great privilege we have been given to represent Hashem and serve as His messengers here in this world.

Succot: Celebrating Hashem’s Love
Parashat Vayelech: Transforming the Curse Into a Blessing
Rosh Hashana- A Time to Stop Making Excuses
Parashat Ki-Tabo: Harnessing Our Innate Creative Drive
Parashat Ki-Teseh: Emuna and Honesty
Parashat Shoftim- Judging Ourselves
Parashat Re'eh: True Passion for Torah
Parashat Ekeb- Reaping the Fruits of Our Misvot
Parashat Vaet'Hanan: The Consolation of Shabbat Nahamu
Parashat Debarim: Believing That Our “Limp” Will Heal
Parashat Matot: Sincerely for the Sake of G-d
Parashat Pinhas: What Did Pinhas See?
Parashat Balak: The Story of Bilam as a Lesson in Emuna
Parashat Hukat: Avoiding Conflict – the Ultimate Good
Parashat Korah: Elevating Ourselves
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