Pinchas is often the portion that begins the observance of the Three Weeks. One explanation is based on the statement in the Midrash Yalkut Shimoni, that Pinchas is in fact Elijah, the harbinger of the Redemption. G‑d is sending us the cure before the illness! The Three Weeks are a period of mourning for the destruction of the Temple and the ensuing exile we are still suffering. The end of the exile will commence with Elijah's announcement that the Mashiach has arrived. Behold, do not lose faith, the Redemption is in the works.

Even the words themselves, "Pinchas is Eliyahu" reinforce the message. "Pinchas" evokes the image of serving G‑d at any cost, even at the peril of one's own life. Elijah is the beginning of the Redemption. "Pinchas is Elijah", means that when we act with self-sacrifice, we bring the Redemption closer.

The Seer of Lublin says that the Three Weeks are connected with the three festivals, Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot. At first glance, we might think this means that just as we are commanded to be happy during the festivals, we are supposed to be sad during the Three Weeks. This is not the case! Chassidim are quick to remind everyone of the Talmudic saying (Taanit 29) that in the month of Adar (which contains Purim) we increase our joy, and in the month of Av (the last nine days of the three weeks) we decrease joy. Don't read it that we decrease, i.e. have less joy; rather, read it that during this period, we lessen, i.e. enjoy the pleasures of the world less, but do it with joy.

The Torah portion concludes with a discussion of the daily and holiday offerings that were brought in the Tabernacle. After the destruction of the Temple, the Talmud tells us that we fulfill our obligation for the daily and special offerings through our daily prayer. The Three Weeks are an especially propitious time to reevaluate our relationship with G‑d through prayer. If we can concentrate on with Whom we are communicating, then just as an offering atoned for our sins, so, too, will our sincere prayers "clean the slate" in our relationship with G‑d.

Copyright 2003 by, a project of Ascent of Safed (// All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.