And on the Sabbath day two he-lambs of the first year without blemish, and two tenth parts of an ephah of fine flour for a meal-offering, mingled with oil, and the drink-offering thereof. (Bamidbar 28:9)
In this week’s Parsha we read about the various korbonos that are brought on the special days of the year. The Chizkuni comments that for nearly all of these, the Torah refers to the actual procedure with the word “hikriva” or “asiya”. On Shabbos, bringing a korbon is normally forbidden. But in regard to the korban that is brought on Shabbos, the Torah does not use either of these words, making it seem as if there is no melacha performed – even though there were several melachas performed in bringing the korbon of Shabbos. He says that these words were left out in order to show honor to the Shabbos.
We can possibly extend this idea – If a person is obligated to drive on Shabbos, he doesn’t necessarily have free reign to drive any way he wants. If WAZE™ (assuming one has a heter to use it because he doesn’t know the route) gives him two options to get to a destination, with both options taking the same amount of time, but option A takes him through a neighborhood filled with people on the streets, and option B takes him around this neighborhood so that few – if any – people will see him driving, then he should take option B and not option A. On a simple level, we understand this routing option will prevent others from getting a feeling of indifference for Shabbos. However, it seems to me that the driver himself is also prohibited from slighting the Shabbos any more than necessary. There is another gain that the person himself will also maintain a respect and honor for Shabbos. The Chizkuni teaches us that though it is 100% permissible to go down the road that everyone sees him (and that road should be taken without question if it is a quicker path), a person should go down the isolated road (and that when he talks about what he did, he should say that he took the person to the hospital and not that he drove him to the hospital, as to avoid mentioning that a melachah was done).
An allusion to this can be found in meseches Shabbos: According to the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, a mohel may carry a knife on Shabbos in order to perform a bris milah, but he must first tell witnesses why he is deviating from his regular Shabbos observance.
With one fast day behind us and another coming up, I have received many questions from people who are obligated to eat, as to whether they may do so in public. The poskim mention that eating should not be done in public and they give a variety of reasons for this. One of them being precisely this idea: Though it may be a mitzvah for this person to eat (and if he is an infirm person, he may not even be included in the original rabbinic obligation to fast), yet flaunting indifference is forbidden.
It seems appropriate to me that this lesson is taught in parshas Pinchas. While many of the Bnei Yisrael sinned, Zimri not only sinned but did so in full public view. It was for this reason that his punishment was different than for all the others.