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

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to:

Back to This Week's Parsha Previous Issues

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

Vol. 16   No. 38

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Lipa ben Dovid HaKohen z"l
on his 39th Yohrzeit (15 Tamuz)
by the Braverman and Shapiro Families -
Givat Ze'ev and
Woodland Hills-Encino, California

Parshas Pinchas

Moshe the Intermediary

R. Bachye, following in the footsteps of Rashi, cites a Medrash which explains why the Torah juxtaposes the Parshah of the Korban Tamid next to that of Moshe's request to appoint a befitting successor. The Medrash explains how, after Moshe's request, G-d said to him 'Why do you instruct Me how to treat My children? Rather instruct My children how to treat Me!' And the Medrash illustrates this with the parable of a king who married a woman and who had a Shushbin (the best-man). Whenever the king was angry with his wife, the Shushbin would intercede on behalf of the queen. When he was on his death-bed, the Shushbin began to plead with the king to be kind and understanding with his wife, but the king interrupted him 'Instead of telling me how to behave towards my wife, rather tell her to behave towards me with more respect!'

The message clearly, is based on the famous mantra 'Ani le'Dodi ve'Dodi li!' - 'If and when I (K'lal Yisrael) am for Hashem, then He is for me'. The ball is in our court. As long as we go with G-d and observe His Torah and Mitzvos, then we will enjoy His closeness and His protection. It is not necessary to issue any special appeal to Him to obtain it, because His response is automatic. If, on the other hand, we don't observe Torah and Mitzvos, then asking for His assistance is futile. And this is precisely what G-d told Moshe 'Rather than instruct Me how to treat my children … '.


Based on what we just wrote, let us elaborate further on the Mashal. As long as the Shushbin was alive, he was called upon to placate the king, and to plead with him to pardon his wife. Perhaps he did not realize it, but the root of the problem did not lie with the king's hard character, but with the disobedient tendencies of the queen.

Consequently, when on his death-bed, he turned to the king to be kind to the queen, the king corrected him. Just as a doctor can only cure an illness if he gets to the root of the illness, so too here, turning to the king, who never became angry without good cause, was an exercise in futility. It was the queen to whom the Shushbin ought to turn. For, the moment she learnt how to give due honour to her husband, there would be permanent peace between them. No request from the king would be necessary.


If, one may well ask, the Shushbin was addressing the wrong person, then why did the king continually accept his requests to forgive the queen during his lifetime? Why did he not tell him earlier that it was the queen that he should have been rebuking?

R. Bachye, at the beginning of Devarim, comments that Moshe rebuked K'lal Yisrael just before his death; and so, he adds, is the way of Tzadikim - that is when Ya'akov (from whom Moshe took his cue) rebuked his sons; that is when Yehoshua and Shmuel rebuked Yisrael and that is when David rebuked Shlomoh. He offers no explanation for this, but Rashi does! Rashi, citing the Sifri, comments that there are four reasons for not rebuking (for past deeds) during one's lifetime: 1. In order not to have to repeat the rebuke a number of times (depriving it of any real meaning); 2. So that the one being rebuked should not be embarrassed whenever he meets the one who rebuked him; 3. That he should not bear him a grudge in his heart and 4. So that he should not leave him and go and join somebody else - as Ya'akov said to Reuven 'I did not rebuke you all these years, so that you should not leave me and go and join Eisav'.

The Tanchuma gives another reason to explain why Moshe did not rebuke Yisrael earlier - because they would have retorted "But what have you done for us? You are leaving us stranded in the desert. Who are you to tell us off? So he waited until he had captured Sichon and Og, and had distributed their land to Yisrael, setting in motion the conquest of Eretz Yisrael. Then he admonished them.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Midah ke'Neged Midah

"Pinchas …turned My anger back from B'nei Yisrael … Therefore … I will give him my covenant of peace" (25:11).

R. Bachye explains that "turned My anger back" means that the twenty-four thousand who had died were all from the tribe of Shimon, and that thanks to Pinchas, G-d's anger, that was about to strike the remaining tribes (and presumably the rest of the tribe of Shimon too), did not reach its destination.

What emerges is that Pinchas saved K'lal Yisrael from extinction, and enabled them to attain longevity to the end of time. That explains, R. Bachye concludes, why Pinchas became Eliyahu, who lived forever - Midah ke'Neged Midah.


Pinchas = Eliyahu

"be'kan'o es kin'osi (when he zealously avenged my vengeance)" Ibid.

This refers to two acts of jealousy, comments the Medrash regarding the double expression. One here, and one later, when alias Eliyahu ha'Navi, after fleeing from before Achav, in response to G-d's question "What are you doing here Eliyahu", he replied "I am zealous ('Kan'o kineisi') for Hashem" - one in the days of Moshe and one in the days of Achav, Chazal explain. And yet another Pasuk in Seifer Shoftim (20:28) reads "And Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon stood before them in those days".

Although there are other opinions as to which tribe Eliyahu belonged, this is the opinion of the Gemara in Bava Metzi'a (114). The Gemara relates how Rabah bar Avuhah once met Eliyahu standing in a gentile cemetery, paying no heed to his proximity to the graves. "But are you not a Kohen?" he asked him. To which Eliyahu replied that gentiles are not subject to Tum'as Ohel, only Yisrael, as the Pasuk writes "Adam ki yomus be'ohel" - and it is only Yisrael who are called 'Adam', as the Navi Yechezkel writes "For you are My flock. the sheep of My pasture, you are Adam; I am your G-d".


But if Eliyahu was Pinchas, how could he stretch himself over the dead body of the son of the Tzorfis woman, asks R. Bachye?

The son of the Tzorfis was a gentile, he answers. If that is so, we will have to say that he did not actually touch him, since it is only with regard to Tum'as Ohel that a gentile does not render Tamei, but not via Tum'as negi'ah (touching). The very statement however, referring to the son of the Tzorfatis as a gentile is startling (see footnote), particularly in light of the Medrashim, which describe the Tzorfis as the mother of the Navi Yonah ben Amitai. R. Bachye's explanation implies that Amitai, Yonah's father, married a non-Jewish woman! Unless he does not learn like those Medrashim, and according to him, the boy that Eliyahu brought back to life was not Yonah ben Amitai.


Two Portions

"Noson titein lahem achuzas nachaloh (You shall surely give to them a possession of inheritance) … " (27:6).

The double expression at the beginning of the Pasuk, says R, Bachye citing the Medrash, teaches us that the daughters of T'lafchad received two portions - that of their father, who was above the age of twenty when he left Egypt, and the portion that T'zlofchad inherited from his father Cheifer, who also died in the desert. This is based on the ruling that a son and his offspring (first son, then daughter) are always the next of kin, who precede all other relatives to inherit from the father; and there where there is no son, then the daughter and her offspring enjoy that privilege.


Passing on the Inheritance

" … and you shall pass on the inheritance of their father to them" (27:6).

The Torah uses the word "pass on" (ve'ha'avarto) both in this Pasuk and in the next, specifically in connection with a daughter inheriting, because it has connotations of passing across - for when a daughter inherits, she will ultimately pass on her inheritance to her husband or to her son, which often entails passing land from the original tribe that received it when they entered into Eretz Yisrael to another one.

Granted, there is a La'av ("Lo sisov nachalah") forbidding an heiress from marrying into another tribe, in order to ensure that this should not happen, but that La'av was confined to the generation that entered Eretz Yisrael only.


The Wine- Libation

" … ba'Kodesh haseich nesech sheichar la'Hashem (in the Holy place the intoxicating wine-libation shall be poured out for G-d)" 28:6.

Rashi explains that wine that intoxicates refers to wine that is at least forty days old, invalidating wine straight from the vat.

R. Bachye cites the Ramban however, who, based on the Gemara in Bava Basra (97a), precludes wine from the vat Lechatchilah (mi'de'Rabbanan), but validates it Bedi'eved.

What the word does come to preclude, says the author, is wine that has been diluted. All the wine poured on the Mizbei'ach had to be undiluted. And this is also the opinion of the Sifri, which also extrapolates from the Pasuk that the wine must be poured out in a holy place (i.e. the Azarah), and that it should be absorbed in a holy place (incorporating its eventual burning, which must take place in the Azarah too, as the Gemara learns in Succah (49:1, see footnote).


Only the Best

" … they shall be without blemish for you, and their wine-libations" (28:31).

Even the wine- libations shall be un-blemished, says R. Bachye. And it is from here that the Chachamim derive that a mold floating on the wine, invalidates it from use as a wine- libation, since it is only the best of the species that is eligible to go on the Mizbei'ach.

Whatever is not actually Pasul but is inferior and 'ugly', may not be brought Lechatchilah. Consequently, someone who brings a Korban Olah, say, should not bring a weak and scruffy lamb, and say that since it is not blemished it doesn't matter. It is such a person whom the Navi in Malachi (1:14) curses, because he has a superior ram in his flock, yet he brings an inferior one.


And so Yisrael used to do in the time of the Beis-Hamikdash, says the author - they would bring rams from Mo'av, lambs with wide-backs from Chevron, young doves from Har Hamelech and oil from Teko'a, each of them the choice of its species. And so we find by Hevel, whose Korban was accepted because he brought "from the firstborn of his sheep and from the best of them", whilst the Korban of his brother Kayin was rejected, because he did not.

Indeed, one Pasuk says "and all the choice of your vows" whilst another says when you separate the best from it (both in connection with Kodshim).


Even the wood that went on the Mizbei'ach, with which to burn the Korbanos, had to be without worms; nor were the Kohanim permitted to bring wood from a demolished building, only freshly-cut wood, from any tree other than an olive-tree or a vine.

And so too did the oil for the Menorah have to be manufactured from the best-quality oil. Consequently, they were permitted only oil that had been freshly beaten (see Rashi beginning of Tetzaveh).

* * *


"Behold I am giving him my covenant of peace" (25:12).

The letter 'Vav' in the word "sholom" at the end of the Pasuk is broken in the middle.

In his second explanation, the Ba'al ha'Turim connects this with the opinion that Pinchas is alias Eliyahu. We also find 'Eliyahu' spelt missing a 'Vav', whilst Ya'akov is spelt with one. Ya'akov took the 'Vav' from Eliyahu as a security, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim, until he (Eliyahu) comes with the Mashi'ach to redeem his children.

And this is what the Pasuk is referring to when it writes "yogel Ya'akov, yismach Yisrael" ("yismach" contains the same letters as 'Mashi'ach'). Ya'akov will rejoice in the days of Mashi'ach. He will return the 'Vav' and 'Eliyahu' will be spelt in full once again.

"Sholom" ('with the Vav'), the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, has the same Gematriyah as 'Zehu Mashi'ach'.


"Count the entire congregation of the B'nei Yisrael … to the house of their fathers" (26:2).

The Pasuk does not insert the word "to their families" as it did in Bamidbar, the Ba'al ha'Turim observes. It would have been superfluous to do so, he explains, seeing as the Torah mentions it be each and every tribe.


"To Tz'fon, the family of Tzefoni … " (26:15).

Gad's son was actually called 'Tzifyon', says the Ba'al ha'Turim; and the Torah calls him 'Tz'fon', because 'Tz'fon' means hidden, and it is in his portion that Moshe's burial-place is hidden.


"The sons of Yisachar to their families … to Puvah the family of Puni"; to Yashuv, the family of Yashuvi … (26:23/24).

The reason that the Torah changes from "Puvah" to "Puni", the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, is because of its similarity to the word "Poneh' (to turn) - because all of Yisrael turned to them to learn from their Torah. Whereas "Yov" it refers to as Yashuv", because they were Yeshivah scholars.


" … these are the families of Menasheh, and their numbers are fifty-two thousand, seven hundred" (26:34).

This constitutes an increase of twenty thousand five hundred. This is hinted, the author informs us, in the Pasuk in Yehoshu'a "Up to here Hashem has blessed me" - "ad koh barchani Hashem!". The word "koh" consists of a 'Chaf' (corresponding to the twenty-thousand) and a 'Hey' (corresponding to the five hundred).


"These (Eileh) are the sons of Efrayim" (26:35).

"These (Eileh) are the sons of Dan" (26:42).

These are the only two tribes that begin with the word "Eileh".

The word has ramifications of the Golden Calf, where the Eirev Rav announced "Eileh Elohecha Yisrael," the Ba'al ha'Turim explains.

Yeravam ben N'vat, who was from the tribe of Efrayim, set up two golden calves, one of them in Dan, which the ten tribes worshipped for hundreds of years.

One might perhaps add that, even as they traveled in the desert, Michah carried with him an image (known as 'Pesel Michah'); and Michah was from the tribe of Dan.


"le'Sh'fufam Mishpachas ha'Shufami, le'Chufam Mishpachas ha'Chufami" (26:39).

The correct wording would have been 'le'Shufam Mishpachas ha'Sh'fufami ... '. Why did the Torah change it to "ha'Shufami"? The answer lies in the Pasuk in Bereishis (in connection with Adam and the snake) " ... hu yeshufcha Rosh (he will trample on your head)" - a hint, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that Binyamin never sinned, and as Chazal put it, he died only as a result of the 'plan of the snake' (i.e. the decree following the sin of Adam that the whole of mankind have to die).

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 421:
Donning the Tefilin Shel Yad

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah … Chazal list ten things regarding Tefilin, both with regard to the Tefilin shel Rosh and the Tefilin shel Yad. All of them are Halachah le'Moshe mi'Sinai. Changing just one of them renders the Tefilin Pasul. Two of them concern the writing, the other eight concern either the covering of the Tefilin or the tying of the straps. The two that concern the writing are - 1. that they must be written with 'D'yo' (ink) and 2. on 'K'laf' (parchment). The eight concerning the covering are - 1. that they (the Batim) must be square, and so must the stitches and the diagonal (i.e. that the four corners must be exactly equal); 2. that there shall be on both the right of the skin of the shel Rosh and the left the shape of a 'Shin'; 3. The Parshiyos must be wrapped in a cloth; 4. That the cloth in turn shall be tied with a hair of a Kasher Beheimah of Chayah; 5. The batim shall be stitched with sinews; 6. That a sort of tunnel should be formed on the skin, through which the straps shall pass; 7. That the straps shall be black; 8. That the knot of the straps shall form a 'Daled' in the prescribed manner … The Gemara in Gitin (48b) states that the Tefilin must be manufactured by a Yisrael … The length of the strap of the shel Yad is long enough to surround the arm in the location where they are worn and to make a knot in the shape of a 'Yud', and then stretch as far as the middle finger around which it is wound three times and to then tie it. If it is longer than that, it is Kasher. The location on the arm where the Tefilin shel Yad is tied is the muscle (between the shoulder and the elbow) in such a way that, when he places his upper-arm flush next to his body, the Tefilin will be lying next to his heart - in fulfillment of the Pasuk "And these words that I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart". And when the MIshnah in Menachos (4:1) says that the Tefilin shel Yad and the shel Rosh are not interdependent, that is because they are two independent Mitzvos …

One recites the B'rachah 'al Mitzvas Tefilin' over the shel Rosh and 'Lehani'ach Tefilin' over the shel Yad - provided one wears only one of them; but if one wears them both, then one recites only one B'rachah - 'Lehani'ach Tefilin'. One dons first the shel Yad and then the shel Rosh.

* * *

For sponsorships and adverts call 651 9502

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel