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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Pinchas (69)

This week's sedra tells of Pinchas' act of bravery to sanctify G-d's name and his reward - a "covenant of peace." Also described is the war with Midian; a census of the nation was taken; the families that were given portions in the Land of Israel were mentioned; the daughters of Tzelafchad voiced their complaint of not receiving a portion; Joshua was formally inaugurated to take over after Moses' death; the sacrifices for the holy days are described.

We will look at a Rashi at the beginning of the sedra.

Numbers 25:11

Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron, the kohen, turned away My wrath from the Children of Israel when he was jealous with My jealousy in their midst and I did not consume the Children of Israel in My jealousy.


when he was jealous with My jealousy: Rashi: (means) When he executed My vengeance - when he had the anger that I should have had. The expression of "kina" is the burning (feeling) to take vengeance.

What would you ask on this Rashi?

You Question:


A Question: Rashi seems to be redundant and confusing here. First he changes "jealousy" to "vengeance"; then he moves to "the anger that I should have had"!

Three terms here - jealousy, vengeance, and anger. Which is it? And why must Rashi makes this triple conversion?

Can you see what's happening here?

What is bothering him?

Your Answer:


A Question: Some commentaries on Rashi suggest several ideas here. One is that a person cannot feel another's feeling. Feelings are subjective, personal, events. You have your feelings and I have mine. I cannot have yours. I can have a similar feeling to yours, but not "your feeling". So Pinchas could not have had G-d's feeling of jealousy. Another suggested problem is: We can reasonably assume that not only Pinchas was disturbed by Zimri's publicly immoral act; Moses and others were most certainly incensed by what they saw. So why point out Pinchas for special praise?

Rashi's comment deals with these questions.


Your Answer:


An Answer: First Rashi makes clear that here "kina" (the feeling of jealousy) means the act of revenge. We are talking about an act, not an internal feeling. A person can act in another's stead. So Pinchas acted in G-d's place. That is why Rashi first changes "jealousy" to "revenge" (an act). Then he reverts to the feeling of glowing anger ("ketzef") "That I (G-d) should have had." Note: Rashi doesn't say: "that I had", but instead "that I should have had. For, as we said, one cannot feel the other's feeling; but one can feel what the other should have felt.


We see (once again) that Rashi is precise in his choice of words; there are few, in any, redundancies in his commentary.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

"What's Bothering Rashi?" is produced by the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. The five volume set of "What's Bothering Rashi?" is available at all Judaica bookstores.

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