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

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Vol. 15   No. 42

This issue is sponsored by
Mrs. Lesley Hamilton n"y
l'iluy Nishmos
her beloved mother
whose Yohrzeit is on 16 Tamuz
and sister
" (Doris Sinclair)
who passed away on 28 Sivan this year

Parshas Pinchas

Focusing on Halachah
(Adapted from the Chochmas Chayim)

The following is an adaptation from the Hesped of the Telzer Rav (R. Meir Eliyahu Bloch) on R. Yosef Chayim Sonnenfeld z.l.


With regard to the episode of Zimri and Pinchas, the Medrash Rabah comments "And behold a man from B'nei Yisrael came, and he brought to his brothers the Midyanis". What did he see to do that? To teach you that he showed respect neither to G-d nor to people. He said to her (Kozbi) 'I am just as great as him (Moshe), and I will bring you before them (Moshe and Aharon). So he grabbed her by her long hair and brought her to Moshe. 'ben Amram', he said to her, 'Is she forbidden or permitted?" At that point, Moshe's hands became weak and the Halachah was hidden from him; and they all burst into tears. Why did they weep? Because they did not know what to do?

At that moment, "Pinchas ben Elazar saw ". What, Pinchas ben Elazar saw and nobody else did? But did the Pasuk not just say " before the eyes of Moshe"? However, Pinchas saw and he remembered the Halachah.


R. Yosef Chayim Sonnenfeld, commenting on the latter part of the Medrash, points out that it does not say 'he forgot the Halachah', but rather 'the Halachah was hidden from him'.

And he explains that there are occasions in a person's life, where he does not forget the Halachah, but that it is covered by a thick curtain, as it were, rendering it hidden, even though, at the back of his mind, one may be fully aware of its existence. In other words, powerful circumstances or major upheavals sometimes take center stage, pushing Halachah to the side-lines. It is human nature to view things according to their severity, in face of which ordinary events are seen in a different light. The Halachah states that a zealous person may (perhaps even should) kill a man who has relations with a gentile woman. To be sure, the Torah views such behaviour as abhorrent, but Halachah is Halachah, and someone who scrupulously follows Halachah will gladly fulfill it. But against the backdrop of Zimri's Chutzpah, and the major tragedy that was unfolding before the very eyes of Moshe and Aharon, the Halachah took on a secondary, almost as if it had not been given under such terrible circumstances. That is why the Medrash states 'the Halachah was hidden from them'. Yes, they knew the Halachah, only it was hidden by the Havoc that was being cast before them, as if the Halachah was simply not said with regard to circumstances of such an extreme nature.

Not so Pinchas. He did not allow the extreme nature of the circumstances to affect his perception of the Halachah. He saw what happened, yet he remembered the Halachah, as Chazal say elsewhere - 'Let the Halachah pierce the mountain. In his eyes, nothing was larger than the Halachah.


And this personifies R. Yosef Chayim Sonnenfeld, said the Telzer Rav. For the major part of his life, he was in the forefront of the battle of survival of the Eidah ha'Chareidis. He fought the establishment at every step of the way; the battles were tough, the stakes high! Yet never did he compromise. He saw the picture as large as life, but he remembered the Halachah, always. For he knew that the Torah was given to suit all circumstances at all times, and that the solutions to all problems, no matter how large, were to be find in the Torah, and in the Torah only.


Parshah Pearls

Pinchas the Kohen

"And it shall be for him and his children after him a covenant of everlasting Kehunah" (25:13).

Included in the covenant, says the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., is that he would become the Kohen Mashu'ach Milchamah (the Kohen Gadol for war) from that moment on, as we find a short time later when Yisrael went to fight Midyan.

It is from here that Chazal derive their statement that Pinchas did not become a Kohen until he had killed Zimri.


This answers the question that is asked as to how Pinchas could otherwise have killed Zimri, rendering him Tamei Meis, something that is forbidden to a Kohen? Some commentaries, says the Da'as Zekeinim, maintain that Pinchas did not actually kill the two adulterers, but merely dealt them the death-stroke, from they subsequently died after he put them down.

However, if, as we explained, he only attained the Kehunah afterwards, the problem is automatically solved.

A further proof for this is to be found in Parshas Tetzaveh, where the Pasuk describes the inauguration of Aharon and his sons, but says nothing about his grandsons.


R. Shmuel (the Rashbam) however, queries this answer with Medrash (in connection with the eighth day of the Milu'im), which discusses the tremendous Simchah experienced by Aharon's wife Elisheva bas Aminadav. One of the points mentioned there is the fact that her grandson (Pinchas) was the Mashu'ach Milchamah - and that took place some thirty-nine years before he killed Zimri.

The surprising answer they give is that perhaps Pinchas was anointed as Kohen Mashu'ach Milchamah then, even though he only became a Kohen much, much later.


Atones Once, Atones Forever

" because he was zealous/angry on behalf of his G-d, and he atoned for the B'nei Yisrael" (Ibid).

The Torah does not writes ' to atone for the B'nei Yisrael', the Ba'al ha'Turim observes, but "and he atoned for his G-d", or (based on its grammatical format, which has connotations of both past and future) "and he will atone". In other words, G-d was bestowing upon Pinchas, everlasting rights of atonement (the Kehunah) - forever until the end of time.

The K'li Yakar, perhaps having in mind to account for the combination of the past and future tenses in the word "va'yechaper" explains that by publicly killing the adulterer, Pinchas atoned for K'lal Yisrael as if he would have brought bulls and rams on the Mizbei'ach; and that is why G-d appointed him a Kohen, where he would be able to atone for Yisrael in the future.


The Name of Levi's Wife

"And the name of the wife of Amram was Yocheved the daughter of Levi, who bore her to Levi in Egypt" (26:59).

The Pasuk is clearly missing a word, since it does not say who bore her (see Rashi).

Presumably, that explains why the Da'as Zekeinim translates the words "asher yoldoh Osah le'Levi in Egypt" as 'whom Osah bore to Levi in Egypt]. In other words, 'Osah' was the name of Levi's wife.


The Daughters of Tz'lofchad Were Right

"The daughters of Tz'lofchad are right " (27:7)

The Medrash which comments ' "Mishptei Hashem emes, tdodku yachdav (the judgements of Hashem are true, they are righteous together") - this refers to the daughters of Tz'lofchad', certainly requires elaboration.

The P'ninim Yekarim explains it by citing the Chazal, who say that Tz'lofchad's clever daughters claim was Halachically based: 'Mah Nafshach, they argued, if we are considered children, then we ought to inherit, and if not, then why does one of our uncles not perform Yibum with out mother?

Bearing in mind that their father Tz'lofchad was the firstborn, their argument was only valid in the event that it is not only the firstborn son who performs Yibum, but any of the brothers. This is indeed the Halachah, but bearing in mind that the Torah actually seems to confine Yibum to the firstborn, from where do we know this?

The Gemara learns it from the fact that the Torah exempts a brother who is born after the death of their older brother, releasing his wife from having to wait until he grows up for him to perform either Yibum or Chalitzah. Now, the Gemara extrapolates, if Yibum was restricted to the B'chor, this D'rashah would be superfluous.

And the Gemara learns this ruling from the word "yachdav", in the Pasuk "ki yeishvu achim yachdav" (When brothers live together).

Now we can understand the Medrash with which we began: 'The judgements of Hashem are true, the Medrash is saying, the daughters of Tz'lofchad are righteous, because of the word "yachdav" (without which their argument would have fallen flat).


The Male Women

"Give them (lohem) a possession of inheritance " (Ibid)

Seeing as Moshe was addressing women, the Torah should surely have written 'lohen' (and not lohem, which is the masculine form).

The Chanukas ha'Torah answers this Kashya with a Tosfos in Bava Basra (115b). Tosfos there, to conform with the Gemara's statement that the daughter of a son inherits, which it bases on the Pasuk which insinuates that Anah, the 'son' of Tziv'on inherited from Tziv'on's father, the King od Se'ir, points out that Anah was not the son of Tziv'on, but his daughter. And as for the Pasuk in Vayishlach (36:24) which states "Hu Anah ", as if he was a man, that is no problem, because, Tosfos explain, since the Pasuk is coming to teach us that Anah inherited like a woman, it is perfectly appropriate to use the masculine form.

And that, Tosfos conclude, explains why the Torah writes here "lahem", instead of 'lahen'.

* * *

Highlights from Targum Yonasan

'Tell him in the form of an oath in My Name that I have made a covenant of peace with him, and that I will make him an eternal angel, and that he will live forever to give the news of the redemption at the end of days' (25:12).

'And because they insulted him saying "Is he not a Midianite who fattened calves", I will give him the yichus of a Kohen Gadol " (25:13).


& from the Ba'al ha'Turim

Triple Anger

" Pinchas removed My anger from on B'nei Yisrael, when he displayed the anger that I should have been angry " 25:11). The Pasuk inserts the word 'anger' in various forms, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, due to the three sins of which Yisrael were guilty at Ba'al Pe'or; immorality, prostrating themselves before the Pe'or and cleaving to it (by defecating before it).


Zimri = Shlumiel

"And the name of the man who was smitten was Zimri Prince of the Tribe of Shimon (25:14).

The Prince Of the Tribe of Shimon, as we know, was Shlumiel ben Tzurishaday.

Indeed, observes the Ba'al ha'Turim, Shlumiel and Zimri have the same numerical value.

Interestingly, this opinion does tally with those who maintain that the twelve princes who inaugurated the Mishkan joined the ranks of Korach, and were burned together with those who brought the Ketores (see Rashi here and in Parshas Korach 16:2).


No more Yeitzer ha'Ra

"The sons of Gad to their families, to Tz'fon the family of Tz'foni " (26:14).

The only other time that the word "Tz'foni" oppears in T'nach, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, is in Yoel (2:20) where the Navi prophesies that Hashem will remove the 'Tz'foni' from on K'lal Yisrael. Allegorically, 'Tz'foni' (snake) refers to the Yeitzer ha'Ra.

If we bear in mind the Pasuk in Divrei-Hayamim, which describes Eliyahu ha'Navi as a member of the tribe of Gad, then the Pasuk is hinting that when Eliyahu comes to herald the imminent arrival of the Mashi'ach, then the Yeitzer ha'Ra will become obsolete.


The Ba'al ha'Turim also points out that Tz'fon's real name is Tzifyon, and the reason that he is called Tz'fon is because Tz'fon (Tzafun) means 'hidden', and Moshe who received the Torah, is hidden is his portion.


No Atonement Necessary

By all the Musafim, the Ba'al ha'Turim observes, the Torah includes a goat for Chatas, together with its respective Olos. The sole exception is Shavu'os, where the Chatas is not mentioned.

This is because the Torah was given on Shavu'os, he explains, and the Torah atones for those who study it.

Similarly, he points out, that although by most Musafim, the Torah adds the word "Lechaper" (to atone) after "Chatas", it does not do so on Yom Kipur, because, he says, Yom Kipur atones, with the Chatas or without it.

The Ba'al ha'Turim does not however, explain, why the Torah omits 'Lechaper' on Rosh Chodesh and on Succos. Perhaps the reason by Rosh Chodesh is because it adds the word "la'Hashem"(see Rashi 28:15), and to insert the word 'Lechaper' would not be appropriate.

* * *

The Mitzvos
Mitzvah 400:
The Dinim of Inheritance

A father is believed to say 'This is my firstborn son', and he is also believed to say 'This is my son' or 'This is not my son', for the Torah believes him when it writes in Ki Seitzei (21:17) "Because the firstborn he shall acknowledge", which Chazal interpret to mean 'that he shall make it known to others. Even if someone is known to be the son Reuven, and Reuven turns round and says that he is not his son, he is believed, and that person will not inherit him when he dies. The Rambam adds to this that even if the son had sons of his own, even though his father is not believed to say that he is not his son with regard to Yichus (to render him a Mamzer), he is believed with regard to the laws of inheritance, as we explained The Gemara in Bava Basra (129b) also states that if someone declares that after his death, his property will go to Reuven and afterwards to Shimon, then if Reuven is fit to inherit, the second recipient will not receive anything at all, because once an heir takes ownership of the property, not even a condition made by the Morish has the power to break an inheritance. Moreover, as we leaned there, even if the Morish said 'from now' (i.e. he bequeaths his property to Reuven, and to Shimon after Reuven, but from now), Shimon will still not inherit anything, since Reuven is an heir. If, on the other hand he is not, then if the Morish said 'from now', Shimon acquires the property immediately, whereas Reuven may 'eat its fruits' (derive benefit from it) for the duration of his life-time. Whereas, if he did not say 'from now', then Shimon will only receive whatever is left of the property after Reuven has finished with it. In the event that Reuven sold it, then Shimon receives nothing, since the property belongs to Reuven for as long as he lives, to do with as he pleases, even to sell it or to give away as a gift The remaining Halachos are discussed in Perek Yesh nochlin (the eighth Perek of Bava Basra) and in Choshen Mishpat, Si'man 276).

*This Mitzvah applies everywhere at all times* to both men and women. Someone who contravenes it, and who declares (irrespective of whether he is healthy or whether he is on his death-bed) that someone who is eligible should not inherit him after his death, has negated this Mitzvah, provided he used a Lashon of inheritance, as we already explained; and this in spite of the fact that his words are ineffective, as we already explained.

The Ramban writes that the Rambam omitted two Mitzvos (from his list of Mitzvos); one, a Mitzvas Asei and the other, a Mitzvas Lo Sa'aseh., both, in connection with the Mitzvah of Bechor. The first, that of acknowledging his firstborn son, in order to give him an extra portion of his inheritance; the second, not to take away from him his Bechorah by depriving him of the extra portion to which he is entitled, as the Torah writes in Ki Seitzei (21:16) "He is not permitted to give the right of the firstborn to the son of the loved one ". This latter warning, the Rambam also failed to reckon it among the Mitzvos; He merely incorporated them in the general Mitzvah of inheritances.

* * *

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