Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 9   No. 38

This issue is sponsored
with wishes for a Refuah Shleimah
Berel ben Chanah n.y.

Parshat Pinchas

The Sons of Korach

The Torah in Pinchas records that Asir, Elkanah and Avi'asaf, the sons of Korach, did not die. The Targum Yonasan elaborates: 'They were not part of their father's plot, he says, because they followed Moshe's teachings. Consequently, they were neither burned by the fire (that consumed the two hundred and fifty men that joined with Korach), nor swallowed up by the earth (together with Korach, Dasan and Aviram and their families). These details are based no doubt, on the previous Pasuk, where both punishments are described.

In similar vein, the Rosh cites a Medrash, where according to Rebbi, Korach's sons were disciples of Moshe. As such, they desisted from following the rebellion, because they knew that Moshe would not do anything that Hashem had not commanded him. Rashi however, quoting a Gemara in Sanhedrin explains that initially, they did join the uprising, but that when it came to the crunch, they did Teshuvah in their hearts. The Medrash elaborates on this point. When they saw Gehinom open before them on one side, and the burning fire on the other, they retracted, but were unable to confess their sin verbally (it is not clear whether this was because they were frozen with fear, or whether it was because they could simply not bring themselves to do so). Nevertheless, Hashem read their minds, and accepted their Teshuvah.


What was their merit, another Medrash asks? And it goes on to explain how they were sitting with their father when they saw Moshe approaching. This threw them into a quandary; should they stand in his honor, they would be dishonouring their father. On the other hand, were they to remain seated, they would be dishonouring Moshe, for has the Torah not ordained that one stands before a venerable man? They decided to take the latter course and they stood up. At that moment, thoughts of Teshuvah entered their hearts (as Chazal have taught, 'One Mitzvah leads to another').


A high place was designated for them in Gehinom, Rashi writes, and that is where they sat. The Medrash however, adds that they stood up and sang songs of praise to Hashem. Moshe, Aharon and all the leaders of the generation came to listen to their songs, and took their cue from them on how to sing Shiroh before Hashem.


Rabeinu Bachye, after discussing the meaning of Gehinom in the above Medrash, adds 'and we find that some of Korach's sons (descendents) sang in the Beis-Hamikdash. It is not clear what he means to say with this, unless it is to intimate that, on the assumption that they had not had children previously, Korach's sons must have been set free from their special place in Gehinom, and went on to marry and have children, who sang in the Beis-Hamikdash.

The Agados Maharsha in Sanhedrin (110a) refers to one of the songs composed by Korach's sons (Tehilim 88), where they fervently pray to escape having to descend to the depths of Gehinom. And he suggests that the triple lashon "Shir", "Mizmor" and "la'Menatzei'ach" correspond to the three sons, and that "al mochalas le'anos" hints to the fact that Hashem pardoned them for their sin (perhaps for the grief they felt at having sinned)


The Gemara in Bava Basra (74a) tells the amazing story of of Rabah bar bar Chanah who was shown 'the absorbed ones of Korach'. Placing his ear to the ground, he heard cries of 'Moshe is genuine and his Torah is true and they are imposters' emanating from the cracks in the ground (refer to main article Parshas Korach). The Maharsha, based on the above Gemara in Sanhedrin, which cites this story immediately following the quotation of the Pasuk "And the sons of Korach did not die", ascribes this episode to Korach's sons (who "did not die'', and) who remained close enough to the surface to be heard. This implies however, that they did not emerge from their designated place in Gehinom (since Rabah bar bar Chanah was an Amora, who lived long after the destruction of the second Beis ha'Mikdash).

On the other hand, it would explain why they cried 'and they (and not 'we') are imposters', a problem that bothers the commentaries.


Parshah Pearls

(adapted from the P'ninei Torah and from the Ba'al ha'Turim)

A Well-Earned Reward

"He turned My anger away from Yisrael" (25:11).

It is justifiable for him to receive his reward, the Medrash comments.

The K'sav Sofer explains that normally, one of the reasons that G-d declines to reward a person in this world is because excessive goodness in this world often leads a person to sin (as the Torah writes in Ha'azinu "and Yeshurun became obese and lashed out" - 32:15).

However, Chazal have said that someone who brings merit upon the community will not sin. Consequently, Pinchas, who benefitted the community, was certain not to sin, and could therefore be rewarded in this world, without fear that this would lead him to sin.

That is why the Medrash writes 'It is justifiable for him to receive his reward' in this world.


The Difference Between Them

"And the name of the Jewish man who was smitten with the Midyonis was ... . And the name of the Midyani woman was Kozbi ... " (25:14/15).

Why does the Torah find it necessary to add the words "with the midyanis" with regard to Zimri, asks the Nachal Kedumim, even though it did not use this expression by Kozbi?

Because Zimri was only liable to be killed as long as he was still together with Kozbi (since that is the Din of 'kanain pog'in bo', the basis of Pinchas' action). Kozbi on the other hand, deserved to die for having been directly responsible for the death of so many Jews, irrespective of her being joined with Zimri. Incidentally, this also answers the kashya posed by the Or ha'Chayim - 'What did Kozbi do to earn the death-penalty?'.


Doing it on His Own

"Our father (Tz'lafchad) was not among the congregation (of Korach)" 27:3.

And what if he had been? What difference does it make as to why he died?

The sin of an organized community is far worse than that of an individual (just as a communal Mitzvah is more worthy than a private one). That explains why the Torah needs to stress that Tzlafchad died for his own private sin and not because of Korach's uprising which was a communal one.

Others explain that the daughters found it necessary to point this out, since, had their father been a member of Korach's rebellion, Moshe, who had been personally insulted by them, might have been angry with them. This in turn, would have been disqualified him from ruling their case (in his capacity as a hater).

Furthermore, it was important to inform Moshe of this point, seeing as the congregation of Korach lost all their property, which means that their heirs did not inherit him. And Tzlafchad's daughters remember, were coming to claim their father's inheritance. Consequently, they needed to stress that their father was not among those who forfeited their inheritance through their wickedness.

And yet a fourth explanation is based on the fact that the property of someone who is killed at the hand of the King, forfeits his property to the King, and his heirs do not inherit it. Consequently, if Tzlafchad had been part of Korach's uprising, his property ought to have gone over to the King - Moshe. Consequently, Tzlafchad's daughters, who were claiming their father's inheritance needed to stress that their father had not been a follower of Korach, in which case, there would be no reason to deprive them of their father's inheritance.


Five Kinds of Korbanos

"And you shall say to them, this is the fire-offering (zeh ho'isheh)" (28:3).

There are three Tagin (crowns) on the second 'Hey' of "hi'isheh", the Ba'al ha'Turim points out. To teach us that of the five different kinds of fire-offerings (Chatos, Olah, Asham, Sh'lomim and Todah), the Olah is the greatest (because it is given to Hashem in its entirety).

And also, the Ba'al ha'Turim adds, to teach us that if we study the five Books of the Torah, it is as if we had brought all five sacrifices.


Facing the Sun

"sh'nayim la'yom olah somid (two daily, ongoing burnt-offerings)" ibid.

One can also read the two middle words "la'yom oleh", meaning 'where the sun comes up' (see Rashi).

This is a hint to Shecht the Korban Tamid facing the sun - in the morning in the west (facing the east where it rises), and in the evening, in the east (facing the west, where it sets). This is presumably a demonstration against the kings of the world, who used to bow down to the rising sun, the greatest of G-d's celestial servants, as Chazal have taught us in B'rachos). We sacrifice to the sun's Creator, as it rises and as it sets (in the sun's very presence as it were), to demonstrate with whom our loyalties lie.


(Chag?) Shavu'os

"And on the day of Bikurim (Shavu'os) ... And you shall bring an Olah ... " (28:26/27).

By all the other Yomim-tovim the Torah spells "Olah" missing a 'Vav', with the exception of Shavu'os, where the 'Vav' is inserted. Why is that?

A gentle reminder, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim, that the Torah was given on the sixth of Sivan (according to the Chachamim of Rebbi Yossi).

All the other Yomim-tovim, he adds, the Torah refers to as 'Chag', with the exception of Shavu'os. Why is that? We must bear in mind that the term 'Chag' by definition, refers to the Chagigah which was brought on each of the Shalosh Regalim (the only other Yom-tov that bears the title 'Chag' is Rosh Hashanah, because of the Pasuk "ba'keseh le'Yom Chageinu", which refers specifically to Rosh Hashanah).

Consequently, it is appropriate to refer to Pesach and Succos as Chag, since the Chagigah is always brought on Yom-tov, if not on the first day, then on one of the subsequent days.

Not so Shavu'os, which, like Pesach, has seven days on which to supplement the Chagigah (i.e. the six days after Yom-tov), However, these days are not Yom-tov, so the Torah hints at this by not writing 'Chag' in connection with Shavu'os. By all the other Yomim-tovim the Torah specifically refers to the goat as a Chatos, with the exception of Shavu'os. Why is that?

Because the Torah was given on Shavu'os, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim, which atones on those who study it (even without a Chatos).


Making an Olah!

"And on the seventh month on the first of the month ... And you shall make an Olah" (29:1/2).

By all the other Yomim-tovim the Torah writes "and you shall bring an Olah". Why does the Pasuk change by Rosh Hashanah, to write "make" (although "bring" would appear to be more appropriate)?

The Torah is hinting here, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim quoting the P'sikta, that Rosh Hashanah is the time, not only to bring an Olah, but (perhaps even more importantly) to make oneself into a new creature. Like the Rambam writes (with regard to a sick person changing his name), if we change our ways for the better, we can then turn to G-d and declare 'See, I am a different person, on whom you can safely decree a good year!'

Alternatively, he explains, the Torah is exhorting us to do Teshuvah, and G-d will consider as if we had brought all the Korbonos.


The Day Atones

"And on the tenth of the seventh month ... One goat as a sin-offering" (29:7/11).

Why does the Torah omit the word "lechaper (to atone)", which it inserts by all the other Yomim-tovim, asks the Ba'al ha'Turim?

This is a hint, he replies, that the very day of Yom Kipur atones, with or without Korbanos (provided of course, one does Teshuvah - according to the opinion of the Rabbanan of Rebbi).



The Dinim of Kil'ayim

The Isur of Grafting (Chapter 15)

1. The prohibition of grafting two different species applies min ha'Torah, both in Eretz Yisrael and in Chutz la'Aretz.


2. It is forbidden to graft seeds with trees, trees with seeds and one species of seed with another.


3. The Isur of grafting one tree with another applies whether one grafts one species of fruit-tree with another, or any species of fruit-tree with a non fruit-bearing tree or vice-versa. All non fruit-bearing trees however, are considered one species (in which case one may graft one kind with another).


4. The prohibition of grafting extends even to those species of seeds to which planting Kil'ayim does not pertain (such as those which are planted specifically as animal food). Similarly, if one of the species is fit for humans, the Isur applies, even though the second species is not. And the same will apply if one of them is fit for human consumption, even though people do not tend to keep either species in their field (and which are not therefore subject to Kil'ayim).


5. It makes no difference whether one grafts into the tree or its branches, or whether one grafts into the tree's roots. Nor does it make a difference whether one grafts a branch or a knot, or even if one simply pours the sap of one tree into the branch of another. All of these are considered Kil'ayim.


6. A Jew is not permitted to allow a gentile to graft his trees in a way that is forbidden to him.


7. One is not permitted to water, weed, dig or do anything else that will promote the growth, or even maintain, two species that have already been grafted. In fact, one is obligated to uproot them, even if the grafting was performed through a gentile. Neither may one replant them elsewhere, even if he uprooted them together with the ground in which they were growing. One may however, take a branch from that tree and plant it elsewhere, though one is not permitted to graft it into one of the two species from which it grew.


8. If there is a Safek as to whether the grafted tree and the species which he grafted into it are considered two species or one, there are grounds to permit retaining the grafted tree, even cultivating it, and even grafting it Lechatchilah through a gentile worker. However, this concession requires further investigation.


9. Despite the prohibition to retain Kil'ayim that has been grafted, the fruit is permitted.


Rules Regarding the Various Species (chapter 16)

1. The names that define the various species are a combination based on those used by Chazal z.l., those that are found in commentaries (both early and late), from whose mouths we live, and the horticultural experts, who use these terms, albeit in different contexts. In any event, the expressions used by them may differ from that used by the Torah.


2. Different species of fruit that are similar in nature, as regards both trees and seeds, require the P'sak of a Rav as to whether they really are one species or not (despite the fact that they share the same name).


3. As a matter of fact, two kinds of fruit that are of an identical nature, even though they may have a different shape, are considered one and the same species. And the same applies to two kinds, going by the place where they are sown and the way the land is worked. They too, are considered one species.


There are also species of fruit which, although they are basically different species, may nevertheless be planted together because of the striking resemblance of their respective shape and appearance. However, this requires great expertise, and the final decision rests in the hands of the Gedolei ha'Dor.

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