If you don’t see this week’s issue by the end of the week, check http://parshapotpourri.blogspot.com which may be more up-to-date
Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues
Parshas Pinchas - Vol. 3,
Compiled by Oizer Alport
L’Yashuv mishpachas ha’Yishuvi (26:24)
Although the name Yissochar is spelled with two “sin”s, the prevalent custom is to pronounce it as if it were written with only one. Why is this?
The Chida explains that Yissochar named one of his sons Yov (Bereishis 46:13), which was at that time – unbeknownst to Yissochar – the name of an idol. Upon learning of this, Yov complained to his father, who appeased him by changing his name to Yashuv. However, in order to add a “sin,” Yissochar was forced to give up one of his, and even though it is still part of his written name, it is no longer pronounced! In fact, Rav Tzvi Hirsch from Ziditchov was accustomed to read the name Yissochar by pronouncing both “sin”s up until Parshas Pinchas, in accordance with the opinion that his name was changed only at that time!
V’el B’nei Yisroel t’dabeir leimor ish ki yamus u’ben ein lo v’ha’avartem es nachalaso l’bito (27:8)
A young man suddenly became ill and found himself on his death-bed. He realized that he hadn’t yet prepared a will regarding the division of his estate. Although he didn’t have any children, his wife was pregnant at the time. Uncertain as to the baby’s gender, he instructed that if his wife gives birth to a boy, the son should inherit 2/3 of his possessions, with the remaining 1/3 going to his wife. In the event that the baby is a girl, the daughter should inherit 1/3 of the estate, with the remaining possessions belonging to his widow. After he passed away, to the surprise of all, his wife gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl.
Unsure about how to adapt the deceased’s instructions to the strange turn of events, they approached Rav Chaim Soloveitchik for guidance. He explained to them that the solution is simple. The man made it clear that he wanted any son he may have to receive two times the inheritance of his wife, while he also desired that his widow should inherit double the portion of any daughter she may bear. In light of this understanding, the estate should be divided into seven equal portions, with the son receiving four of them, the wife two, and the daughter one … just as the man himself would have wanted it!
V’nasata me’hodcha alav l’ma’an yishm’u kol adas B’nei Yisroel (27:20)
As the end of Moshe’s life began to approach, Hashem commanded him to appoint his disciple Yehoshua to succeed him as the leader of the Jewish nation. Although Yehoshua was a faithful student, Rashi writes that he wasn’t on the same level as his teacher. The Gemora in Bava Basra (75a) records that upon recognizing this difference, the elders of the generation remarked, “Woe to us for this humiliation and shame.” Why did they feel embarrassed only after noting this distinction, and why specifically did Yehoshua make them feel this way and not the even greater Moshe?
The Chofetz Chaim compares this to a case of a rich businessman who arrived one day in a small rural village, asking if anybody would be interested in becoming his partner in a new project. The businessman offered to put up all of the necessary funds and expertise, but merely desired a hard worker to assist him with managing and running the business.
Most of the residents were content with their simple lifestyles and were skeptical about the man’s promises of fame and fortune, so they declined the offer. One simple, illiterate villager decided that he had nothing to lose and agreed to become the man’s partner. A few years later, the pair returned to visit the village, arriving in an impressive carriage and dressed in a manner which clearly revealed the success of their venture. At this sight, the villagers were mortified and ran to hide.
They explained that they weren’t embarrassed by the wealthy entrepreneur, as they felt that his education and resources gave him advantages that they could only dream of. They were, however, quite shamed at the sight of the success and riches which had met their former neighbor. They remembered all too well that they had been offered the same opportunity, but only he was wise enough to take advantage of it. The recognition of what they had had the ability to become and their failure to actualize their potential generated powerful feelings of humiliation.
Similarly, the Jews in the wilderness never measured themselves against the levels reached by Moshe. They viewed the pious family into which he was born and the elevated soul with which he was blessed as bestowing upon him opportunities for greatness that they could never fathom. Yehoshua, on the other hand, was neither the wisest nor the greatest of the generation. Rashi explains (27:16) that Yehoshua was chosen on the basis of his devoted service to Moshe throughout the 40 years in the desert. Upon recognizing this, the Jews became aware of the levels which could be reached when a person who had been just like them utilized his talents to their fullest. It was this humiliation that the Jews experienced upon the inauguration of Yehoshua as Moshe’s successor.
The lesson for us is that because each of us was born into our own unique family and life circumstances, we needn’t worry that we will be compared to the levels reached by others, whose lots in life afforded them natural advantages. However, we must look ourselves in the mirror daily and question, “Am I utilizing all of my talents and abilities to become the best me that I am capable of?”
U’seir izim echad chatas milvad olas hatamid minchasa v’niska … u’seir chatas echad milvad olas hatamid u’minchasa v’niska (29:16, 22)
In the section describing the additional sacrifices which are to be brought on each day of Sukkos, there is a peculiar difference in phrasing in reference to the goat which is brought each day as a Korban Chatas. Although this sacrifice is identical on each day of Sukkos – one male goat – the Torah calls it a “seir izim” in connection with the 1st, 2nd, and 4th days of Sukkos, but calls it simply “seir” when it is discussed on the 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th days of the holiday. As the Torah is precise with every word that it uses, this repeated change is hard to understand.
The Vilna Gaon offers a brilliant explanation for this linguistic curiosity. The Gemora in Sukkah (55b) teaches that a total of 70 bulls are offered on Sukkos, corresponding to the 70 nations of the world. The Zohar HaKadosh teaches that all of the nations are spiritually associated with either Yishmael or Eisav and derive their strength from them. The Zohar further teaches that Yishmael is mystically referred to as “seir izim.” Eisav is called simply “seir,” as the Torah refers to him as “ish seir” (Bereishis 27:11).
Since the Gemora explains that the 70 bulls represent the 70 nations of the world, all of whom descend spiritually from either Yishmael or Eisav, it is appropriate to offer 35 bulls corresponding to Yishmael and 35 for Eisav. Because Yishmael was the elder of the two, we begin by offering the 13 bulls on the first day on his behalf. The Torah therefore refers to the Korban Chatas of that day as “seir izim,” which refers to Yishmael, and this is repeated with the 12 bulls sacrificed on the 2nd day.
However, if the 11 bulls offered on the 3rd day also corresponded to Yishmael, he would have 36 bulls, leaving only 34 for Eisav. To allow each to have a total of 35, the 11 bulls on the 3rd day are brought on behalf of Eisav. The Torah therefore refers to the Korban Chatas on that day as “seir.”. The 10 bulls which are brought on the 4th day may be brought for Yishmael, bringing his total to the desired 35, and the goat on that day is referred to for the last time as “seir izim.” This leaves the bulls on the three remaining days to be offered for Eisav to bring his total to 35, and they are all referred to as “seir!”
the weekly Points to Ponder are now available!
Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):
1) Rashi writes (25:13) that prior to the episode in which he killed Zimri and Cozbi, Pinchas wasn’t a Kohen. As he was alive at the time that Aharon and his sons were anointed, why didn’t Hashem and allow him to become a Kohen at that time? (Gur Aryeh, Sifsei Chochomim, Ohr Gedalyahu)
2) Rashi writes (26:1) that just as Moshe began his leadership of the Jewish nation by counting them after the exodus from Egypt, so too he was commanded to count them at the end of his leadership as the time of his death approached. After the sin of the golden calf, the male Jews between ages 20 and 60 numbered 603,550 (Shemos 38:26), while 39 years later they numbered only 601,730 (26:51). In what way is it considered a compliment to Moshe that the total number of Jews actually decreased during the period of his leadership? (Darash Moshe)
3) Rashi writes (27:1) that the Torah emphasizes that the ancestry of the daughters of Tzelafchad extended to Yosef to teach that their love of Israel, in which they demanded to inherit their father’s portion, had its origins in Yosef’s love of Israel, to which he insisted on having his bones brought for burial. Wouldn’t it be more praiseworthy if their love for the land originated from within themselves and not from a predisposition inherited from their ancestor? (Darash Moshe)
4) On Rosh Chodesh, a total of 10 animals are to be brought as a Korban Olah (two bulls, one ram, and seven lambs), while only one goat is to be offered as a Korban Chatas (28:11, 15). In the Mussaf prayers recited on Rosh Chodesh, we petition Hashem to restore the Beis HaMikdash and enable us to once again bring the special sacrifices of Rosh Chodesh: miz’beiach chadash b’Tzion tachin, v’olas Rosh Chodesh na’aleh alav us’irei izim na’aseh v’ratzon. Why do we refer to bringing one Korban Olah and multiple goats for a Korban Chatas when the Torah prescribes just the opposite? (M’rafsin Igri)
5) In Parshas Emor (Vayikra 23:24), the Torah refers to Rosh Hashana as “zichron teruah” – a remembrance of shofar blasts. In Parshas Pinchas (29:1), it is called “yom teruah” – a day of shofar blowing. The Gemora in Rosh Hashana (29b) explains that Parshas Emor refers to Rosh Hashana which falls on Shabbos, in which case the shofar is only remembered but not actually blown, and our parsha refers to Rosh Hashana which falls during the week, when the shofar is sounded. Why did the Torah write them in this order, first mentioning the less common case of Rosh Hashana falling on Shabbos? (Rav Akiva Eiger Al HaTorah, Peninim MiShulchan Gevoha Parshas Emor)
© 2008 by Oizer Alport. Permission is granted to reproduce and distribute as long as credit is given. To receive weekly via email or to send comments or suggestions, write to email@example.com
Shema Yisrael Torah Network