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

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Vol. 21   No. 41

This issue is sponsored anonymously

Parshas Pinchas

Pinchas, Nadav & Avihu
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

"Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon ha'Kohen turned back My wrath from upon the B'nei Yisrael, when He avenged My vengeance in their midst, and I did not destroy the B'nei Yisrael in My anger" (25:11)

The Oznayim la'Torah citing the Zohar, relates how when the tribe of Shimon confronted Pinchas, his soul left him, he became unconscious and they left him and presumed he was dead.

At that moment, the Neshamos of Nadav and Avihu entered his body.

Why, he asks, specifically the Neshamos of Nadav and Avihu?


The commentaries offer many explanations with regard to Nadav and Avihu's sin (See Ba'al ha'Turim in Shemini who lists six). The Oznayim la'Torah there is of the opinion that all the sins are rooted in the fact that they Paskened a Halachah in the presence of Moshe - that although fire descends from Heaven and consumes the Korbanos, it is nevertheless a Mitzvah to apply human conventional fire, too.

This sin in turn, is based on Nadav and Avihu's objection of Moshe's extreme humility - beginning with the hiding of his face at Har Sinai, when G-d appeared to him a year earlier. In their opinion, the right thing to do would have been to see Hashem and to learn His ways in the process. Indeed, the author explains, Moshe himself was sorry for this lost opportunity, as we find in Parshas Ki Sissa, when he asked G-d to show him His Glory, and to which G-d replied 'When I wanted, you didn't; now when you want, I don't!' (B'rachos, daf 7a).

In any event, Nadav and Avihu maintained that one needs to be more positive in trying to get closer to G-d, and they believed that a leader needs to be more assertive in this field.


That is why, already at Har Sinai, the Torah writes about them "And they saw the G-d of Yisrael" - the initial sin for which they received the death-penalty (See Rashi Mishpatim 24:10).

And that is why they entered the Kodesh Kodshim (according to some opinions) to bring the Ketores when the fire of G-d came down from heaven, that is why they drank wine and that is why they sought to take over the leadership of Yisrael from Moshe (some of the sins of which they were guilty). They were simply looking to forge ahead in their Avodas Hashem, in contrast to Moshe Rabeinu's modesty.

They were great Tzadikim, but they erred, as is clear from their punishment. Moshe Rabeinu was the greatest Navi and leader precisely on account of his humility. Their intentions may have been good, but they were presumptuous, and acting presumptuously against the word of Moshe was asking for trouble. Hence the Torah writes in connection with their death - "when (because) they came (too) close to Hashem ".


The Neshamos of Nadav and Avihu, the author explains, needed a Tikun (to be reincarnated, in order to put right what they had done wrong). And they found the ideal Tikun in the body of Pinchas, whose presumptuous act saved Yisrael. Pinchas too, wanted to reach great heights and not to remain stagnant. He performed an act that, had he asked, he would have been told was forbidden. Indeed, Chazal say that, had Zimri turned round and killed Pinchas in self-defense, he would have been absolved from guilt. But Pinchas, unlike Nadav and Avihu, acted presumptuously with the Torah's permission, based on the Chazal that permits someone to act zealously if he sees a fellow-Jew having relations with a non-Jewish woman.

Nadav and Avihu's zealousy was not based on Halachah, that of Pinchas was. That is why entering the body of Pinchas was the ideal Tikun for the Neshamos of Nadav and Avihu.


And this answers the question of how Pinchas could become a Kohen without needing to be anointed with the anointing oil in the way that Aharon and his four sons were. It was because he now possessed the Neshamos of Nadav and Avihu, who had already been anointed. It was their Kehunah that was now passing into the hands of Pinchas, and no further anointing was necessary.

Incidentally, the Oznayim la'Torah employs the same logic to explain why, in Parshas Chukas, when Elazar ha'Kohen succeeded his father, Aharon, as Kohen Gadol, he did so by wearing the eight Bigdei Kehunah (as the Torah explains there), without having to be anointed with the anointing oil - despite the fact that, unlike a king, a Kohen Gadol requires anointing, even if he is the son of a Kohen Gadol. There too, he explains, the reason is because Elazar and his brothers had already been anointed at the same time as Aharon ha'Kohen, and it was not therefore necessary for him to be anointed again.


Another question the Zohar itself asks is how it is possible for two Neshamos to enter into one body? And it answers that, since they were not married, they were considered only half Neshamos. Consequently, the two of them were able to combine into one Neshamah and to enter into Pinchas' body.

See also first Parshah Pearl.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

Who was Pinchas' Father

"Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon ha'Kohen" (25:11).

The Zohar asks why, in many places in T'nach, the Torah adds the name of Pinchas' grandfather (Aharon) to his Yichus, an uncommon practice at the best of times, and even more strange when we consider that, when it speaks about Pinchas' father Elazar, it refers to him simply as Elazar ha'Kohen?


And answers the question with its explanation that Nadav and Avihu's Neshamos entered Pinchas' body (as we discussed in the main article). Consequently, Pinchas body was the son of Elazar, whereas his Neshamah was the son of Aharon. And so the Pasuk mentions both.


The Women Didn't Die

"And of these there was not a man who was counted by Moshe and Aharon " (26:64).

But the decree to die in the desert did not apply to the women! (Rashi).

In that case, asks the Oznayim la'Torah, why, when G-d told the people "But your children, whom you said will be taken as spoil, I will bring them to the land" - did it not include their wives as well - bearing in mind that they had specifically said "Our wives and our children will be taken as spoil"?

Seeing as the women were not included in the decree, he explains, they would have died a natural death when their time came. Consequently, G-d could not have assured them that their wives would survive, since many of them were destined to die naturally in the course of the forty years.


How about Machir and Ya'ir sons of Menasheh

" and not a man of them remained except Caleiv ben Yefuneh and Yehoshua bin Nun" (26:65).

But that's not correct, asks the Oznayim la'Torah? Machir and Ya'ir, 'sons' of Menasheh, who were born in the days of Ya'akov Avinu, were still alive. In fact, Moshe gave them the areas of Gil'ad and Chavos Ya'ir as an inheritance, and they both entered Eretz Yisrael with the rest of K'lal Yisrael.

Tosfos in Bava Basra, quoting the Rashba (the Ba'al ha'Tosfos) asks this question. And he answers that what the Torah means is that not one man from that generation that was destined to die on account of the sin of the spies survived. This does not include anyone who was over sixty at the time of the sin - such as Machir and Ya'ir, who were well over sixty (in fact they were over two hundred and fifty).

The Torah is therefore justified in listing Kaleiv and Yehoshua (who were both under sixty at the time of the spies) as the sole (male) survivors of that generation.

* * *

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