If you don’t see this week’s issue by the end of the week, check which may be more up-to-date

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

 Parshas Pinchas - Vol. 5, Issue 39
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 of 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’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?”


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. While the face of Moshe was comparable to the sun, the face of Yehoshua was similar to the moon. How is it to be understood that their faces were comparable to celestial bodies, and why was each of them specifically likened to the sun and moon, respectively?

The Bostoner Rebbe explains that we must first understand the relationship between the sun and the moon. To the naked, uneducated eye, it seems that the sun provides light during the day and the moon by night. However, we all learned in science that this isn’t exactly accurate, as the moon is incapable of independently generating its own light. More correctly, the sun gives us light during the day, and at night the moon reflects the sun’s light. In this sense, the sun is the giver and the moon is the receiver.

In light of this distinction, Rav Dovid Povarsky notes that the Gemora in Shabbos (87a) relates that there were three episodes in which Moshe acted of his own accord. Each time Hashem agreed with Moshe’s decision and logic, a phenomenon that we don’t find in conjunction with Yehoshua. Just as the sun generates its own heat, so too Moshe was capable of producing and developing original insights. Yehoshua, like the moon which has no source of light of its own, was only able to lead the nation based on that which he directly received from Moshe.


Answers to the weekly Points to Ponder are now available!
To receive the full version with answers email the author at


Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):

1)     The Targum Yonason ben Uziel (25:12) writes that as reward for Pinchas’s zealotry, Hashem promised that he would live forever and would herald the final redemption. Our Sages explain that Eliyahu HaNavi was none other than Pinchas. As Eliyahu ascended to Heaven without dying, was his wife permitted to remarry? (Terumas HaDeshen 102, Kovetz Shiurim 2:28)

2)     Rashi writes (25:18) that Hashem commanded the Jewish people to kill the Midianites because they caused the Jews to sin by making their daughters available for forbidden relations. Does this mean that non-Jews are commanded in the mitzvah of not causing another person to sin? (Ginas Veradim 43, Ayeles HaShachar)

3)     There were two groups of people who came to Moshe with grievances which he was unable to answer and for which he needed to ask Hashem to clarify: the men who were impure at the time of the Korban Pesach and the daughters of Tzelafchad who wanted to inherit their father’s portion in the land of Israel. Moshe told the first group (9:8) to stand and wait while he went to ask Hashem for guidance, but to the daughters of Tzelafchad he said nothing before taking their claim to Hashem (27:5). Why did he treat the two groups differently? (Tal’lei Oros pg. 206)

4)     Why does Hashem refer (28:2) to the Korban Tamid (Continual Offering) as “My offering” while all other sacrifices are referred to as “your offerings”? (Ayeles HaShachar)

5)     Rashi explains (29:36) that the festival of Shemini Atzeres is Hashem’s way of saying that after we have spent so much time together with Him in the sukkah, it is difficult for Him to separate from us and He therefore asks us to linger one more day. How will this solve the problem of the painful separation, which will presumably only become more difficult after spending additional time together? (Darkei Mussar pg. 287, Tiferes Torah)

  © 2010 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


Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel