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

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Vol. 13   No. 39

This issue is co-sponsored
in loving memory of our dear mother
Sarah bas Avraham Van Gelder
whose Yohrzeit was on 16th Tamuz
by her daughters Doris and Lesley n.y.
by Daniel and Rochelle Irom n.y.
with gratitude to Hashem
on the birth of their daughter
Elana Ahavah n.y.

Parshas Pinchas

Forever Zealous
(From the Haftarah)

(Adapted from the Ma'ayanah shel Torah)

"And he said, I was zealous on behalf of Hashem ... , for B'nei Yisrael have forsaken His covenant, they have demolished Your altars and slain Your prophets by the sword".


G-d complained, says the Yalkut, that Eliyahu seemed unable to put in a good word on behalf of Yisrael. He accused him of showing nothing but zealousness with regard to them. At Shitim (in the episode of Zimri, where he was better known as Pinchas), he displayed zealousness, and again in the Haftarah (as Eliyahu), he grumbled that Yisrael had forsaken Hashem's covenant, demolished the Mizbei'ach, and killed the prophets by the sword (Melachim 1 18:19). That is in fact, why G-d took Him away and had Elisha anointed in his place.

Make no mistake, this in no way reflects negatively per se, on Eliyahu, who still went alive into Gan Eden, a privilege reserved for a mere handful of Tzadikim. And it was mainly in his capacity as a Navi, a leader of Yisrael, that zealousness was not considered the correct approach.

It nevertheless does seem odd, comments the Kochav mi'Ya'akov, when in one place, the Torah portrays Pinchas' zealousness as an outstanding merit, having saved Yisrael from total destruction, even to the point of earning him a number of unique rewards, and G-d Himself is full of praise for what he did. And then in another, He suddenly opts to consider his display of zealousness detrimental!?


And he answers with the following parable. A doctor once took his only son to a doctor to cure his ailing hand. The doctor examined the boy and decided that he had to amputate the hand. The operation proved a success. In a short time, the son recovered from the operation. The father thanked the doctor, paid him handsomely for his services, and returned home with his son.

Some time later, the son fell ill once again, and his father took him to the same doctor. Once again the doctor examined the boy, and began treating him, using sharp drugs that endangered the patient's life. When the father saw this, he began to berate the doctor in no uncertain terms. He accused him of trying to kill his son instead of curing him. And what's more, he said, it was clear that the doctor was by nature a sadist, and that on the first occasion too, his intention had been, not so much to heal the boy, as to maim him for life.


Here too, Eliyahu, alias Pinchas, came out with a sharp attack against Yisrael, accusing them of behaviour for which they deserved to be destroyed, without a word in their defense, without as much as a prayer on their behalf (in the way that Moshe Rabeinu did on numerous occasions), as befitted a Jewish leader.

That, says the Kochav mi'Ya'akov, is why G-d answered him like the boy's father answered the doctor. He accused him of possessing a natural tendency towards zealousness; with the sole interest of prosecuting Yisrael, to evoke the Midas ha'Din against them. Perhaps this was even a reflection of his true motive on the first occasion, at Shitim, where Hashem rewarded him so handsomely.

Perhaps there too, his intention had been not so much to save Yisrael as to evoke the Divine prosecution, to judge them for their sins.


G-d hinted broadly here, that the job of a true leader is one who prays on behalf of K'lal Yisrael, and seeks ways and means to minimize their sins, so as to detract from their punishment, even at a time when they are truly wicked, and have sunk to the lowest levels.

To be sure, when speaking to the sinners themselves, one is obligated to rebuke them in the sharpest of terms, where necessary; But when addressing G-d, that is a different question.


R. Yosef Chayim Sonnenfeld, the Rav of Yerushalayim in the early part of the last century, was known for the high degree of zealousness that he displayed in his personal relationship with the secular leaders of Eretz Yisrael. Yet when he was once questioned about this, on the grounds that it is surely the way of a Tzadik to speak good about Yisrael and to seek merits on their behalf, he replied 'Believe me, when I tell you that every day I recite Tehilim and cry before G-d on behalf of all of K'lal Yisrael, even the biggest sinners. But that is when I speak directly to G-d. When I address them personally, the Torah obliges me to rebuke them in the strongest possible terms (a. to prevent others from taking their cue from them and going in their ways; b. to try and bring them to Teshuvah)'.


And this is also the way of Chasidus - sharply demanding from the person to improve, but pleading with Hashem on his behalf.

* * *

Parshah Pearls

The External And the Internal

"Pinchas ben Elazar ... diverted My anger (heishiv es chamosi) from on the B'nei Yisrael ... " (25:11)

Citing the G'ro, the P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro explains the words "heishiv es chamosi, which literally means 'turned my anger round', with the adage of Chazal that Tzadikim are called 'alive', even after their death, whereas even during their lifetime, Resha'im are called dead. What they mean, says the G'ro, is that whilst in the case of the former, it is only their bodies that have died, but their Souls remain alive, in the latter case, it is only their bodies that live; their inner souls have already died. Take the word "chamosi", and you will find that its inner letters (denoting the Neshamah) spell 'meis', its outer letters (the body) 'chai'. What Pinchas therefore did was to turn the word "chamosi" round, from its current format (where the Neshamah is dead, and the body alive), to 'michyas', whose inner letters spell 'chai'. See also Parshah Pearls vol. 7 'Changing the tracks'.


Finger in the Ear

"To Ozni, the family of Ozni" (26:16).

In the opinion of Rashi, this is synonymous with the family of Etzbon (from the root 'Etzba', meaning 'finger').

What, one may well ask, is the connection between these two names?

The Sh'loh connects them via the Chazal, who explain that a person's fingers are shaped the way they are, long and thin, so that when he hears something that he shouldn't, he can immediately place them in his ears, to prevent him from hearing what he ought not to hear. Hence the ears and the fingers serve one and the same purpose.


Moshe, Elazar and Aharon

"And they stood before Moshe and before Elazar the Kohen ... " (27:2).

If Moshe didn't know, Chazal ask, how could Elazar possibly know?

One therefore needs to invert the Pasuk, and to read it as if it had written Elazar first (implying that they first brought their query to him, and only when he was unable to answer them, did they appear before Moshe) This is the opinion of R. Yashiyah. Aba Chanan citing R. Elazar explains that the two leaders were sitting in the Beis-Hamedrash, and the questioners came and stood before both of them simultaneously (Rashi).

Why is it, the commentaries ask, that in Parshas Beha'aloscha, where the Torah relates how a delegation came before Moshe and Aharon with a query regarding the Korban Pesach, Rashi cites only the explanation of Aba Chanan citing R. Elazar, and not that of R. Yashiyah?


The Gemara in Bava Basra (119) bases the two opinions on the question as to whether one is permitted to honor a Talmid in the presence of the Rav (Aba Chanan), or not (R. Yashiyah).

The Gemara adds however, that there where the Rav himself honours the Talmid, others may take their cue from him and do likewise.

In our Parshah, where the Rav and the Talmid are Moshe and Elazar, we have no indication as to whether Moshe would have paid deference to Elazar. Therefore, we have no choice but to cite both possible answers, since we do not know which is the correct one.

In the Parshah regarding the Korban Pesach however, Moshe's Talmid was none other than his brother Aharon, and we already know from a number of occasions that Moshe paid him deference. In that case, both opinions will unanimously agree that one is permitted to honour the Talmid and the Rebbe at one and the same time. And that explains why Rashi cites only the one answer (Binyan Ariel).


What Was the Problem?

"And Moshe brought their lawsuit to Hashem" (27:5).

What was Moshe's problem?

Receiving a portion in Eretz Yisrael, explains the Ohel Torah, is tied up with keeping the Shabbos, as Chazal have said (based on a Pasuk in Yeshayah) 'Whoever keeps Shabbos properly receives an inheritance without borders'. That being the case, someone who desecrates Shabbos, forfeits that portion.

Our sages have said that the man who was put to death for desecrating Shabbos (at the end of Sh'lach-L'cha) was none other than Tz'lofchad. According to that opinion, he forfeited his right to a portion in Eretz Yisrael.

However, there is an opinion which maintains that he acted 'le'Shem Shamayim'. On the one hand, this did not absolve him from the death penalty, whilst on the other, it seems, it would enable him to retain his portion.

This was something that only G-d could ascertain. That's why Moshe passed the lawsuit on to Him to deal with.


A True Leader

" ... who goes before them and who comes before them, who takes them out and who brings them in" (27:17).

A true leader, says the Avnei Azel, leads the people and is not led by them. He goes in front at all times, and does not turn round to see where they want him to go.

His task after all, is to raise the people to his level and not to lower himself to theirs. And that is how the Chidushei ha'Rim explains the words "who takes them out and brings them in" - he takes them out of their level of Tum'ah, and brings them in to his level of Kedushah.

Whereas a leader who allows himself to be led by the people, does exactly the opposite. He is not really a leader at all.


A Shame and Disgrace

"And you shall place some of your majesty upon him" (27:20).

'Some of your majesty', comments the Gemara in Bava Basra (75), 'but not all of it. Moshe's face shone like the sun, Yehoshua's like the moon. The elders of the generation said "Woe to that shame! Woe to that disgrace!" '

This implies that had Yehoshua tried a little harder, he could have been on a par with Moshe Rabeinu.


Why, asks the G'ro, was it only the elders who made that observation, and not the youth?

The younger generation, who only saw Moshe Rabeinu as an old man, he replies, attributed Moshe's superiority to his advanced age. Not so the older one. They remembered Moshe in his younger years, when he was the same age as Yehoshua, and they realized how much greater he was than him, even then. Hence their lament 'Woe to that shame! Woe to that disgrace'!


The Reward of Communal Leaders

"And he (Moshe) took Yehoshua ... " (27:22).

He took him with words, says Rashi, and told him about the reward of the community leaders in the World to Come.

Who like Moshe, the 'faithful Shepherd', would know how many thanks Jewish leaders can expect from the people? Remember how K'lal Yisrael angered and provoked Moshe, and how many times they spoke against him and slandered him! Why, at one stage they even accused him of being an adulterer.

That is why, when Moshe placed his hands on Yehoshua and appointed him as his successor, he told him in no uncertain terms that here in this world, he should expect nothing in return for his services, not even a thank you; but that he would receive his reward in full in the World to Come.


In similar vein, we say in the 'Mi she'Beirach' on Shabbos and Yom-Tov ' ... and G-d will pay the reward of all those who work on behalf of the community in good faith'.

There are of course, those who work for the community for personal gain. They cannot wait for their reward, but help themselves, as it suits them! But those who work faithfully for the sake of the community, wait for Hashem to pay them in His own good time. They know full well that at the end of the day, it is only from Him that they will receive their remuneration in full.

* * *



(Adapted from the B'nei Yisaschar)

This year, as in most years, Chukas and Balak are Leined separately, whereas Matos and Masei will be joined.

The reason for this (despite the fact that Chukas and Balak are considerably shorter) the B'nei Yisaschar explains, is in order, as far as possible, to Lein all the Parshiyos that deal with the division of Eretz Yisrael during the three weeks. Both Matos and Masei speak about this topic, and they are always read during the three weeks.

Pinchas too, speaks about the division of Eretz Yisrael, so whenever possible, we Lein Matos and Masei together to enable its inclusion in the three. And it is when the calendar does not allow this that Matos and Masei are divided.

The B'nei Yisaschar offers a second reason for Leining Pinchas within the three-week period, whenever possible. Based on the fact that the Parshah contains all the Yamim-Tovim, he explains, it is appropriate to Lein it during this period of mourning, to remind us that when the time comes, these days too, will become happy days and will be added to the list of Yamim-Tovim. This will serve as a great source of comfort and will fill us with a sense of anticipation.


Bein ha'Metzarim
(Adapted from the Arugas ha'Bosem)

The Navi Yirmiyahu writes in Eichah "All its pursuers caught up with it between the straits" ("kol rodfehah hisiguhah bein ha'metzarim"). The numerical value of this phrase is equivalent to that of 'heimoh Chaf-alef yomim mi'yud-zayin be'Tamuz ad tish'ah-be'Av' (these are the twenty-one days between the seventeenth of Tamuz and the ninth of Av).

And this is the basis of the Medrash (in Eichah Rabasi) which, commenting on the blossoming almond-stick that Yirmiyah saw, explains that it takes an almond-tree twenty-one days for the blossoms to turn into almonds.

The Medrash also states there that the Pasuk in Yirmiyah (51:51) "We are embarrassed, for we heard our insults" refers to Shiv'ah-Asar be'Tamuz", and "shame has covered our faces", to Tish'ah be'Av, a clear indication that the punishment would end on Tish'ah-be'Av was destined to begin on Shiv'ah-Asar be'Tamuz.

Consequently, it is befitting that one afflicts oneself in every possible way during this period, and not to indulge in excessive pleasures, so as not to detract from the mourning. The Arizal writes that during these days one should sit on the floor after midday for half an hour or so, to weep and to bemoan the destruction of the Beis-ha'Mikdash (a custom that is cited by the Poskim in the form of saying Tikun Chatzos, though the custom is not widely practiced).

Chazal also extrapolate from the Pasuk "Rejoice together with it all those who mourned for it" (Yeshayah 66:10) that whoever mourns over the destruction of Yerushalayim, will eventually merit to witness it in a state of rejoicing, whilst those who do not will not be there.


Kabbalistic Castruity
(Adapted from the B'nei Yisaschar)

The Arizal states that, when reciting the Name of Hashem in the first B'rachah of the Amidah during the three weeks, one should have in mind the Divine Name of 'TaDHaD' (not advisable for those who are not conversant with Kabalah).

This Name, which comprises the letters that immediately precede those of the Name 'Havayah', consists of two parts, the first ('TaD', whose numerical value is 13), corresponding to the thirteen days in Tamuz from Shiv'ah-Asar be'Tamuz until the end of the month, the second ('HaD', whose numerical value is 9), to the nine days in Av. The first is a Tikun for the sin of the Golden Calf, the second, for that of the spies.

Furthermore, according to the Kavanos of the Arizal, the first three B'rachos of the Amidah are linked with the three Names that hide Hashem's real Name: 1 - TaDHaD; 2. - Kuzu (comprising the letters immediately following those of Havayah) and MaTZPaTZ (the Name of Havayah in the Gematriyah known as 'Atbash', where 'Alef' equals 'Tav', 'Beis' equals 'Shin' and so on). Now the total numerical value of these three names equals 361, which is equivalent to that of Yehudah and Efrayim (the tribes from whom the two Mashichim will descend). At that time, the fulfillment of the Pesukim in Yeshayah " ... Your teacher will no longer be hidden" (30:20) and "the glory of Hashem will be revealed" (40:5) will be realized, for then His Name will no longer be hidden.

Elaborating on this idea, the B'nei Yisaschar explains that in the first of the three opening B'rachos of the Amidah ('Avos'), Hashem's real Name is hidden in that of TaDHaD, in the second ('Gevuros'), in that of Kuzu, and in the third (Kedushas Hashem), in that of Matzpatz. Now the numerical value of the Name Havayah together with the three that hide it add up to 420 ('Tam'), hinting at the Pasuk in Eichah "Tam Avonech Bas Tziyon" (Your sin has come to an end, Daughter of Tziyon). And what's more, this is equivalent to the numerical value of Chesed, Din ve'Rachamim (the Midos of the three Avos). It is therefore a good idea to have these in mind when reciting 'Elokei Avraham, Elokei Yitzchak v'Elokei Ya'akov, ho'Eil ha'Godol (TaDHaD), ha'Gibor (Kuzu) ve'ha'Noro (Matzpatz', which are synonymous with Chesed, Din and Rachamim, respectively.

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