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

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Vol. 14   No. 38

This issue is co-sponsored
in loving memory of our dear mother a"h
Sarah bas Avraham Van Gelder
whose Yohrzeit was on the 16th Tamuz
by her daughters Doris and Lesley
by an anonymous donor

Parshas Pinchas

Mo'av Sins, Midyan is Punished?

Following the debacle of Ba'al Pe'or, G-d commands Moshe to harass the Midyanim for having drawn Yisrael after Pe'or, and for the devastation caused by Kozbi their sister, when many died during the plague that followed.

The commentaries query this Pasuk, in light of the Pasuk in the previous Parshah, where the Torah writes that it was the daughters of Mo'av (and not Midyan) with whom Yisrael sinned?


After informing us that G-d's anger was more the result of their worship of Ba'al-Pe'or, towards which the adultery with the women was merely a means, Rashi, citing the Gemara in Bava Kama, adds that in reality, the Mo'avim deserved the same punishment, only G-d wished to ensure that no harm befall the ancestors of Ruth, who was destined to descend from Mo'av. Whereas in Parshas Mas'ei (31:2), Rashi explains that G-d punished Midyan, not so much for what they did, but for the fact that, unlike Mo'av, who were genuinely afraid of being attacked by Yisrael, and could justify what they did as an act of self-defense, they were totally uninvolved in the issue. They had nothing to fear from K'lal Yisrael, yet they joined forces with Mo'av in causing Yisrael to commit these terrible sins. The Chizkuni adds that, in addition, Yisrael had just captured some of Moav's land from the hand of Sichon (as the Haftarah of Chukas clearly records).


A third explanation appears in the Ha'amek Davar, who cites the continuation of the Pasuk here "for they are harassing you with the conspiracy that they conspired against you in the matter of Pe'or". He observes that the Torah uses the present tense, suggesting that the Midyanim still posed a threat at that time. Not so the Mo'avim, with whom Yisrael sinned both as regards idolatry and as regards adultery, because they were caught up in the web of lust at the time, and sinned in order to give vent to their desires. Once the episode came to an end however, and after many people died in the ensuing plague, they lost interest in Mo'av and their god K'mosh. Midyan's god Pe'or, it appears, continued to pose a threat even after the episode took place, in that it possessed some magnetic force that continued to attract those who worshipped it long after they had stopped doing so. And that explains, says the Ha'amek Davar, why G-d ordered Moshe to attack Midyan and not Mo'av. Incidently, this explanation fits nicely with the Medrash which cites the Chazal 'When someone comes to kill you, beat him to the draw', which according to the other explanations, is difficult to understand, seeing as the episode of Ba'al Pe'or was already over.


None of these commentaries however, resolve the discrepancy completely, to explain why the Torah ascribes the sin to the women of Mo'av and not of Midyan, and the punishment, to the men of Midyan, and not to those of Mo'av.


The K'li Yakar, in response to the original question, points out that, when recording the sin of Ba'al Pe'or, the Torah describes how "the people began to commit harlotry 'to' the daughters of Mo'av". The Mo'avim may well have prepared the ground for the events that followed, but it was the Jewish men who actually entered the Moabite territory and accosted the Moabite women. They were the ones who made the first move, and this is hinted further in the Torah's choice of wording 'the people began to commit harlotry 'to' the daughters of Mo'av" (and not 'with' them).

The scenario with the Midyanim was quite different, as depicted by Kozbi bas Tzur. She and her friends were the ones to enter the Camp of Yisrael, and we can safely assume that it was she who accosted Zimri (the K'li Yakar postulates, as Zimri would hardly have dared accost a princess. It seems to me that this is arguable, but that, in any event, since she made the first move by entering the Jewish Camp, it was she and her friends who opened the proceedings).

Now we can understand why the Torah commanded Moshe to avenge Yisrael's honour from the Midyanim, who were guilty of starting up with K'lal Yisrael, but not with the Mo'avim, who were not, even though they had been anything but innocent bystanders.


It is important to add that the fact that Yisrael made the first move, in no way absolved Mo'av from guilt. Upon the advice of Bilam, they carefully planned the scenario at Pe'or with the full knowledge of what would happen once Yisrael became aware of their presence. Indeed, G-d punished them severely with eternal rejection, as the K'li Yakar himself explains on the very same Pasuk. What he evidently means is that, seeing as it was Yisrael who actually went to the Moabite camp and accosted them, it would not have been correct to send Yisrael to take revenge for the ensuing plague that they had brought on themselves.


The Ramban's explanation is much less complicated, yet equally effective. According to the Ramban, the strategies mentioned by the Torah in connection with Midyan, refer, not to the actual sins involved. They were perpetrated by the daughters of Mo'av, as the Torah explicitly says, but to the plans. The Midyanim may well have not been involved in the actual sinning. The idea however, was their brainchild, and it was they who decided the details of how it should be carried out (albeit together with Bilam, to whom Chazal ascribe the initial idea).

* * *

Parshah Pearls

Pinchas & Birchas Kohanim

"Therefore say, behold I am giving him My covenant of peace a covenant of eternal Kehunah" (25:12/13).

The word "say" (Emor), says Rabeinu Bachye, hints at the Mitzvah of Birchas Kohanim, which now fell to Pinchas. That is because it is in connection with Birchas Kohanim that the Torah writes "Omor lohem".

The question arises that seeing that Birchas Kohanim is part and parcel of the Kehunah (the twenty-fifth gift, as we quoted Rabeinu Bachye himself as saying in Parshas Korach), then if Pinchas now received the legacy of the Kehunah, why is it not obvious that Birchas Kohanim was automatically included? Why does the Torah find it necessary to mention it independently? The footnote in R. Bachye however, reminds us that Pinchas had just killed someone (albeit le'Shem Shamayim), and we have a principle that a Kohen who has killed a person, irrespective of the circumstances, is no longer allowed to Duchen.

That is why he explains, the Torah needs to inform us here that Pinchas' having killed Zimri did not disqualify him from Duchening.

Presumably, the reason for this is, either because this killing was a Mitzvah, or because he performed the act before he became a Kohen.


Serach bas Asher

"And the name of Asher's daughter was Serach" (26:46).

Why, asks the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. does the Torah add the word "ve'Sheim" (and the name of)?

And he answers by citing Targum Unklus, who translates the Pasuk like this "And the name of Asher's wife's daughter was Serach". In other words, they explain, she was Asher's daughter in name only, but not biologically. And the reason that the Torah mentions Asher at all, is because he brought her up, and as Chazal say, whoever brings up a Jewish child ('ben Chaveiro') it is as if he has born him'.

The problem remains however, that if her father was one of the sons of Ya'akov, why the Torah does not tell us who her real father was; whereas if it was somebody not from Ya'akov's family, why does it list her as part of Ya'akov's family at all? The Da'as Zekeinim therefore concludes that Targum Unklus' translation is 'Dachuk' (unlikely). She was probably the daughter of Asher, and because she was well-known for her piety and good deeds, the Torah adds the word "ve'Sheim", an indication of her good name.


The Chizkuni points out that in Bereishis, when the Pasuk lists the seventy children of Ya'akov who went down to Egypt, it lists Serach first of Asher's children, whilst here, it lists her last, and he ascribes this to the fact that in Vayechi, it places her first because she was the oldest; whereas here, it places her last, because the Pasuk gives precedence to her brothers, who received a portion in Eretz Yisrael (since that is the main purpose of the counting here).


And he also adds that the Torah mentions Serach but not Dinah (who is mentioned in Bereishis). This is because she still 'happened' to be alive (two hundred and fifty years later!), whilst Dinah had already died.


Minchah - the Later the Better

"The one lamb you shall prepare in the morning, and the second lamb you shall prepare in the afternoon" (28:2).

As we cited in 'Highlights from Targum Yonasan', the author maintains that the Tamid shel Shachar atones for the sins performed during the night, whereas the Tamid shel bein-ha'Arbayim comes to atone for the sins performed during the day. Bearing in mind that Tefilas Minchah represents the Tamid shel bein-ha'Arbayim, the Nosei K'lei Yonasan uses this Targum Yonasan to explain the opinion of the Rambam and the Rishonim who rule that, despite the principle of performing a Mitzvah as soon as it comes to hand, it is preferable to Daven Minchah during Minchah Ketanah (one and a quarter hours before nightfall) rather than at Minchah Gedolah (half an hour after midday). By doing so, it gives one a chance to include any sin that one may have transgressed between Minchah Gedolah and Minchah Ketanah in the atonement that Minchah achieves.

Conversely, one may add, someone who Davens Minchah Gedolah is strongly advised to refrain from sinning until nightfall.


Maftir on Shabbos

""u've'Yom ha'Shabbos " (28:9).

Why, ask the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., did the Chachamim not institute this Parshah as the regular Maftir to be Leined every Shabbos, just as they instituted the equivalent Parshiyos that follow it to be Leined on Rosh Chodesh and Yom-Tov, respectively?


To suggest that this is because the Parshah only contains two Pesukim, and, as the Gemara in Megilah teaches us, one is not permitted to begin Leining within three Pesukim of the end of the Parshah (so where would one begin Maftir in this case?), would be wrong, since we would have the option of beginning from the previous Parshah ("Tzav es B'nei Yisrael " [like we do every Rosh Chodesh]).


The answer, says the Da'as Zekeinim, lies in the fact that, based on the Gemara in Ta'anis (27b, [which cites G-d telling Avraham that nowadays, when we are unable to bring Korbanos, we can attain atonement by learning about them]), Chazal instituted Leining the Parshiyos of the Musaf Korbanos on the relevant days, only because all the Musafim incorporate a Chatas that is brought as an atonement (since on each of these days the Torah writes "And one goat as a sin-offering to atone"). The sole exception to this is the Musaf of Shabbos, where no Chatas was brought. Consequently, no purpose would be served to Lein the Pesukim under discussion.

Alternatively, it is because whereas in the Parshah of Mo'ados (in Emor) incorporating all the Yamim-Tovim plus Rosh Chodesh (which the Navi refers to in Megilas Eichah, as a 'Mo'ed')), the Torah writes "These are Mo'adim of Hashem which you shall call-out ", which literally means " which you shall read". Based on the principle "that the Pasuk always retains its literal meaning', Chazal therefore instituted the reading of each of the Parshiyos in its relevant time. This does not pertain to Shabbos however, which is not called a 'Mo'ed'.


Why Mention the Shelamim Last?

"These you shall do for Hashem on your festivals, besides your Nedarim and Nedavos, your burnt-offerings, your meal-offerings, your libation and your peace-offerings" (29:39).

How strange to place the peace offerings after the meal-offerings and the libation, particularly as every peace-offering requires a Minchah and a Nesech?


Not so simple, says the Meshech Chochmah in reply, when one recalls the Gemara in Kidushin (37b), which states that the Nesachim (incorporating the Menachos) were not brought until after the fourteen years of conquest and distribution. Rashi explains there that this ruling is confined to Korbenos Yachid (individual offerings); the Nesachim of Korbenos Tzibur were brought even in the desert, and this includes the Nidvos Tzibur (communal gifts, with reference to the 'Olos Kayitz ha'Mizbei'ach', burnt-offerings that were purchased from left-over communal funds, and burned on the Mizbei'ach during the long summer months).

Now the Toras Kohanim explicitly states that the Tzibur can bring Olos Nedavah, but not Shalmei Nedavah. Consequently, the only Shelamim ever brought by the Tzibur is the one that accompanies the Sh'tei ha'Lechem on Shavu'os, and the Sh'tei ha'Lechem was only brought after the fourteen years of conquest and distribution, from the produce of Eretz Yisrael, but not in the desert.

No wonder the Torah lists the Korbanos in the order that it does. It begins with Nedarim and Nedavos, which could be brought in the desert (without a Nesech), then the burnt-offerings (of the Tzibur) together with the meal-offerings and the libations which accompanied them, concluding with peace-offerings, which could be brought as Shalmei Yachid, but which did not require a Nesech until later.


No Time to Say it

"And Moshe said to the B'nei Yisrael, everything that Hashem commanded Moshe" (30:1).

Why, asks the Ha'amek Davar, does the Parshah of the Musafim not conclude with the Pasuk "Vayedaber Moshe es Mo'adei Hashem el B'nei Yisrael", like it does in the Parshah of Mo'adim in Emor?

To explain this, he refers to his explanation in Emor (23:44), where he extrapolated from the Pasuk the two Dinim stated by Chazal; to learn the laws of each Yom-Tov on Yom-Tov, and to discuss the laws of Yom-Tov, starting thirty days before Tom-Tov (though he seems to say something slightly different here).

This is something that Moshe practiced throughout the forty years in the desert. He expounded on the laws of Pesach starting thirty days before the Chag, and taught them again on the Yom-Tov itself.

That was not possible however, with regard to the Musafim, which he was only taught in the fortieth year after Succos, and that was when he taught it to K'lal Yisrael. By the time the next Yom-Tov (Pesach) arrived, he was no longer alive (he died on the seventh of Adar). Consequently, he never had the opportunity of fulfilling the two Mitzvos contained in the Pasuk under discussion, so how can the Pasuk say that he did?

* * *


"And it was after the plague, that the Divine mercy welled to avenge the death of His people, and G-d said to Moshe and to Elazar the son of Aharon the Kohen saying: 'take the total number of the congregation of B'nei Yisrael ' " (26:1/2).


" the sons of Korach did not participate in their father's plot; they followed the teaching of Moshe the Navi. Consequently, they did not die in the plague of pestilence, neither were they burned, nor were they swallowed up by the earth" (26:11).


"The daughters of Tz'lofchad have spoken correctly. This Halachah was already written before Me. However, they merited that it should be said on account of them " (27:7).


"One lamb you shall bring in the morning, to atone for the sins of the night (before); and one lamb you shall bring at dusk, to atone for the sins of the day" (28:4).


"And its libation a quarter of a Hin for each lamb in a vessel belonging to the Beis-Hamikdash shall the drink-offering be poured, comprising old wine, and in the event that old wine cannot be found, wine that is (at least) forty days old, to pour out before Hashem" (28:7).


"And one goat from the herd as a sin-offering before Hashem because of the diminishing of the moon, besides the perpetual Olah and its drink-offering" (28:15).


"And on the seventh month, the month of Tishri, on the first of the month shall be for you a holy convocation, all servile work you may not do; it shall be for you a day of blowing, to confuse the Satan who comes to prosecute you, with the tone of your blowing" (29:1).


"And on the tenth day of the seventh month, the month of Tishri, shall be for you a holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves from food and drink, from bathing, wearing cosmetics and shoes, and marital relationship; all work you shall not do" (29:7).

* * *


"And its libation (drink-offering) a quarter of a Hin (three Lugin) for one lamb, in the Kodesh it shall be poured a drink-offering for Hashem" 28:7.

"ba'Kodesh hasech" - 'it shall be poured on the Mizbei'ach', explains Rashi, "Nesech sheichar" - wine that intoxicates', and not fresh wine straight from the vat.

The Ramban however, objects to Rashi's latter d'rashah, inasmuch as the prohibition of bringing fresh wine is only mi'de'Rabbanan, which explains why Chazal validate a Nesech comprising fresh wine Bedi'eved.


According to the Ramban therefore, "Sheichar" comes to preclude diluted wine, which is invalid even Bedieved.


The Ramban also comments on the fact that the Torah goes into detail about both the Minchah (the flour-offering) and the Nesech, specifying the amounts of flour and wine that each animal requires both by the Korban Tamid and the Musaf of Rosh Chodesh. On the other hand, by the Musaf of Shabbos and the remaining Yamim-Tovim (Pesach, Shavu'os, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kipur & the first day of Succos) it gives details of the Minchah but not of the Nesech. And he attributes this to the fact that even though the Torah specified in Parshas Sh'lach-L'cha (15:3-12), the ingredients of the Menachos and the Nesachim of a bull, a ram and a lamb respectively, that are required for Nedarim and Nedavos and for the Yom-Tov offerings, the Minchah has a number of exceptions. The Minchah that accompanied the Omer, as well as the Sh'tei ha'Lechem that were brought on Shavu'os, was double (two Esronim of fine-flour [instead of the usual one] that was Chametz). The bread that accompanied the Korban Todah too (forty loaves), was very different than a regular Minchah. Consequently, the Torah finds it necessary to teach us by each of the days on which the Musaf is brought, that the Minchah comprises the regular Shi'ur (one tenth of an Eifah per lamb; two tenths per ram, three tenths per bull [1 Eifah = 3 Sa'ah = 144 egg-volumes]).

Not so the Nesech, whose Shi'ur (a quarter of a Hin per lamb, a third, per ram and a half per bull [1 Hin = 12 Lugin = 72 egg-volumes]) is absolute, with no exceptions. That is why, having mentioned the Shi'ur by the lamb of the Korban Tamid, the Torah no longer needed to mention it with regard to Shabbos and the Yamim-Tovim. It did however, mention it by the Musaf of Rosh Chodesh, to add the Shi'ur Nesech of rams and bulls, since the Tamid comprised only one lamb.

And he concludes with the Korban Musaf on Succos, where, after specifying the Minchah on the first day, it sufficed to write on the other days 'their flour-offerings and their drink-offerings according to the law', to indicate that the Menachos and the Nesachim on the remaining days of Succos followed the regular pattern.


The double expression "Hasech Nesech", Rabeinu Bachye explains, represents the two Mitzvos of pouring - Nisuch ha'Yayin (as described above) and Nisuch ha'Mayim, that was performed on Succos exclusively.


Regarding the D'rashah of Rashi that the Ramban rejected, the latter cites the Sifri, which Darshens from there 'in a holy place it shall be poured and in a holy place it shall be absorbed'. Both the Malbim and the Torah Temimah connect this Sifri with the opinion of the Chachamim in Succah, who maintain that the wine that was poured into the basin on top of the Mizbei'ach (as described in the Mishnah in the fourth Perek of Succah) went down to the centre of the earth.

The latter quotes the G'ro however, who changes the text to 'in a holy place it shall be poured and in a holy place it shall be burned' (which in fact, concurs with the Gemara in Succah 49a/b).


The Gemara there initially establishes the current D'rashah according to R. Elazar b'R Tzadok, in whose opinion the poured wine would flow into the space between the ramp and the Mizbei'ach. That space was narrow, yet sufficiently wide for young lithe Kohanim to descend once every sixty or seventy years, to scrape the wine from the walls where it had congealed, and bring it up to the surface. We now learn that this wine had to be burned in the Azarah. The Gemara initially assumes that it could not possible follow the opinion of the Chachamim, since it would be impossible to burn wine that had fallen down to the centre of the earth.

It concludes however, that the D'rashah can indeed go like them; in a case where a Kohen holding a bowl placed his hands in the space through which the wine falling and caught some of it. The wine that he caught had to be burned in the Azarah.

* * *

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