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

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Vol. 5 No. 39

Parshas Pinchos

Genetically Speaking

When giving details of the family of Tzlofchod's daughters, the Torah goes back five generations to Menasheh and then adds "to the families of Menasheh the son of Yosef" - a seemingly superfluous addition, points out Rashi (referring to the repetition of ‘Menasheh’), since the Torah has already mentioned him in its original list. However, Rashi replies, the Torah does this in order to add "the son of Yosef", to teach us that Tzlofchod's daughters were following in the footsteps of their ancestor Yosef; he loved Eretz Yisroel, as we see from his request that his descendants transport his remains from Egypt to Eretz Yisroel; so too did his descendants, the daughters of Tzlofchod. The Torah is telling us here that, when they claimed their father's portion in Eretz Yisroel, it was not for their own personal gain, but because they were worried about their immediate family losing its rights in Eretz Yisroel.

It is quite common for a good deed or a good character trait to be carried down from father to son or from mother to daughter, often reappearing many generations later. We find it with Leah, who was the first person since the creation of the world to give thanks to Hashem when she gave birth to her fourth son, Yehudah, a derivative of 'le'hodos' - to thank (though on average, each of the four mothers should have born Ya'akov but three) . And we later find that very son Yehudah displaying unbelievable courage, when he publicly admits to his part in Tomor (his daughter-in-law)'s pregnancy, which he does in order to save the lives of Tomor and the twins with whom she is pregnant. (To admit and to thank both share the same root, since both stem from acknowledgement.)

And we find the same concept with Rochel, whose incredible ability to remain silent (when her elder sister Le'ah was being given to Ya'akov as his bride - in her place) she passed on to her son Binyomin. Although Binyomin knew that Yosef was still alive, he kept his lips sealed and did not inform Ya'akov of that fact. And this ability to remain silent was repeated later by King Shaul, who remained silent, not informing his uncle of his own recent appointment to the illustrious position of King - the very first King of Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel. And it recurred again many generations later in Esther, who refused to divulge her ancectry to king Achashverosh.

But perhaps the most significant example of all, is that of the Ovos, our forefathers Avrohom, Yitzchok and Ya'akov. They implanted into their children and grandchildren the wonderful middos and hashkofos, emunah and ahavas ha'mitzvos (character traits and Torah outlook, faith and the love of mitzvos) with which they themselves were imbued.

It is amazing how what a person says or does, or even thinks, can have such a strong influence not only upon those who witness the act in question, but even upon those as yet unborn. It may be a single action or command, such as that of Yosef ordering his descendants to transport his body to Eretz Yisroel when the time would come - it may well be an entire lifestyle, such as those of the Ovos, but whatever the case, one's descendants will be affected, often deeply, in due course, for better or for worse. One can draw an analogy to copies made on a photostat machine, where the more perfect the original, the more perfect will be the copies; whereas a flaw in the original will be sure to cause a flaw in all the copies. (Avrohom Ovinu stated four words: "How· will I know· that· I will possess it?" and for that his descendants had to suffer four hundred years' Golus.)

This of course, places a heavy responsibility upon the shoulders of every Jew. It should provide him with the impetus to strive towards perfection, to redouble his efforts to constantly grow in every area of spirituality, when he realises how every action, word and thought is likely to have strong repercussions, not only there and then, but on his descendants later - because with just one word, he can be responsible for the making or the breaking, of his children and grand-children.

Parshah Pearls
Parshas Pinchos

A Flaw in Moshe's Logic

When the daughters of Tzlofchod brought their case before Moshe, wanting to know whether, because their father had left no sons, they would receive his portion in Eretz Yisroel or not, Moshe told them to wait, whilst he handed their case to Hashem.

The halochoh slipped his mind, explains Rashi, as a punishment for a comment that he had made elsewhere (Devorim 1:17): "And whatever is too difficult for you," he told the newly-appointed judges "bring to me" (and I will handle it) - a comment which was deemed presumptuous. Strange, asks Rabeinu Bachye, that Rashi does not make a similar comment about Moshe Rabeinu in Beha'aloscho, where Moshe was unable to answer those people who were tomei mes and therefore unable to sacrifice the Korban Pesach. There too, Moshe told them to wait whilst he handed their case to Hashem, yet Rashi does not suggest that perhaps this was a Divine punishment for some sin or other. Why does he say it here and not there?

The answer, explains Rabeinu Bachye, is simple: the halochoh that escaped Moshe by the B'nos Tzlofchod was that when there is no son, the daughters inherit. This halochoh is really obvious, so much so, he argues, that even the gentiles rule that, when there is no son, it is the daughters who inherit, rather than relatives from the mother's family. That is something which Moshe should have known (much like Dovid ha'Melech, who forgot the well-known halochoh that the Oron had to be carried on the shoulders, and not on a wagon, because he had referred to the words of Torah as 'songs'). Not so the halochoh of Pesach Sheni, which is subject to Divine logic and not to man's logic. The case of the B'nos Tzlofchod displayed a flaw in Moshe Rabeinu's reasoning, the case of Pesach Sheni was somrthing thathe could not have known.

The Daughters of Tzlofchod

Rashi offers a second explanation: really, he says, it should have been Moshe who revealed the halochoh of the B'nos Tzlofchod, just as he revealed the rest of the Torah. The reason that he forgot, and it was the B'nos Tzlofchod who were responsible for its revelation, was (not because of any fault in Moshe but) due to the merits of the B'nos Tzlofchod - who were both righteous and wise.

No small merit, to have one's memory perpetrated in this way!

Moshe's Integrity

The Chofetz Chayim gives yet a third explanation (which also appears in the Zohar), an explanation which, in contrast to the first two explanations, is actually to Moshe's credit, highlighting his supreme level of integrity.

The Gemoro in Kesubos (105b) cites many incidents of sages who declined to judge when they sensed that one of the litigants was (deliberately or otherwise) harboring their favouritism. For example, Ameimar refused to litigate on behalf of the man who did no more than remove a feather from his head.

Here too, the moment the daughters of Tzlofchod mentioned the fact that their father was not in the congregation of Korach, Moshe felt that, they were playing on his sensitivities (albeit unintentionally), making it difficult to issue a ruling not in their favour, because of his (presumed) hatred of Korach. He felt that he was being prejudiced, so he handed their judgement to Hashem.

they responded with threats: "If you attempt to pass through our land, we will attack you!" The Ba'al ha'Turim cites Dovid ha'Melech, who wrote in Tehillim "I am peace, but when I speak, they want war".

Our enemies do not want to make peace with us, they want to fight and to destroy us, because they are jealous of us and hate us.

Why Har Sinai (which has various other names, among them Har Chorev) is called by that name, explains the Gemoro, is because the moment we accepted the Torah, the nations of the world took to hating us. It is because it caused us to become a hated nation. Har Sinai means "the Mountain of hatred". Their hatred however, is nothing other than a guilt complex - which is the result of their refusal to accept the Torah.

The Shema (Part XVI)

Boruch Shem

The possuk 'Boruch Shem' is not written in the Torah, yet we have a tradition that Ya'akov Ovinu said it, in reply to his sons' declaration of 'Shema Yisroel' (as we wrote recently) It was with gratitude to Hashem, elated that, unlike his grandfather Avrohom and his father Yitzchok, all of his children were righteous, that Ya'akov responded 'Boruch Shem kevod Malchuso le'olom vo'ed'.

It is also the praise that is sung by the Angels in Heaven (perhaps parallel with Yisroel's saying the Shema - which will explain why we recite them together). Chazal are in a quandry. Should we say 'Boruch Shem', because Ya'akov said it? But Moshe did not! So should we omit it because Moshe did? But Ya'akov said it. So what do we do? We make a compromise, and, in contrast to the Shema, which we recite in a loud voice, we say it quietly (Pesochim 56a).

The Gemoro also compares it to a princess who suddenly developed a strong urge to taste the savoury stew whose delicious aroma she could smell wafting from the royal kitchens. What was she to do? Were she to go and surreptitiously help herself to some, she would be branded as being greedy and ill-mannered. Should she suppress the urge and go without it, but oh, the overpowering desire!

So what did she do? She got her servants to bring her some of the stew on the quiet. Here too, 'Shema Yisroel' opens our hearts to the greatness of Hashem, and develops within us a strong urge to partake of some of that spirituality. We want to sing the sort of praises that are sung to G-d in His inner Sanctum. But how can we? Those praises are not for us to sing. They are reserved for the Holy Angels. For us to sing them would be considered greedy and disrespectful. Should we suppress the urge? But that urge is so strong, how can be possibly ignore it? So we make a compromise and say it quietly - satisfying our needs on the one hand, and yet demonstrating our respect for the status of the Angels on the other. That is why on Yom Kippur, the one day a year when we shed a layer of our mundane outer self, adopting the spirituality of the Angels - as even the Sotton (as Chazal testify), is forced to admit - that we are able to say 'Boruch Shem' aloud, like the Angels, whose praise of Hashem we are emulating.

A slightly different idea is expressed in the Medrash Rabah, which explains how, when Moshe went up to Heaven at Mattan Torah, he heard the Angels saying 'Boruch Shem' etc. Although Yisroel were not worthy of such a prayer (due to their physicality - Eitz Yosef), he nevertheless 'stole it' and brought it down for them to insert in their Tefillos. So why do we say it quietly? It can be compared, writes the Medrash, to someone who stole an ornament from the royal palace to give to his wife. When he gave it to her, he instructed her not to wear it in public, only in the house where it would not be recognised by the king's men. On Yom Kippur, the Medrash concludes, when we attain the level of the Angels, and when 'Boruch Shem' is then deserved, and not stolen, we say it aloud.

The Kingdom of Heaven

The Iyun Tefillah explains the connection between 'Shema Yisroel' and 'Boruch Shem' very simply: since the possuk of 'Shema Yisroel' comprises the acceptance of the yoke of G-d's Kingdom over oneself, as we explained, it follows that we continue with the words "Blessed be the name the glory of His Kingdom for ever and ever" to express our belief that the Kingdom of Hashem is the source of blessing and that it is not a source that will ever dry up - because it is everlasting.


It was the bringing of the 'Korban Tomid', every morning and every afternoon, that kept Yisroel free of sin, because the morning lamb would atone for sins committed during the night, and the afternoon lamb (which burnt through the night) atoned for the sins committed during the day. May Hashem accept the words of our lips as if we had brought them on the Mizbei'ach.

Here are some of the halochos of the Korban, taken from the Rambam (Hilchos Temidin, Chapter 1).

  1. The Time of Shechitah. The morning Tomid was shechted before sunrise, from the time that the entire eastern horizon lit up. It happened once that a delay occurred in the time of the second Beis ha'Mikdosh, and they brought the morning Tomid at four hours into the day.
  2. The afternoon Tomid could be shechted when the shadows could clearly be seen to be lengthening - which is half an hour after mid-day. Usually however, they would shecht it two hours later, at eight and a half hours. This is because they had private sacrifices to bring, and it is forbidden to sacrifice any Korban before the morning Tomid, or to shecht Korbonos following the afternoon Tomid. The sole exception to this rule was the Korban Pesach, since it was not possible for the whole of Yisroel to sacrifice all their Korbanos Pesach in the two hours between the morning Tomid and the afternoon Tomid. This concession extended to those who still required sacrifices to complete their purification ceremony. They too, were permitted to bring their Korbanos on the fourteenth of Nissan, in order to be pure - to enable them to eat the Korban Pesach that night.
  3. Burning the Remains at Night Even though Korbonos could not be shechted following the afternoon Tomid, any part of the Korban that was fit to burn on the Mizbei'ach during the day, could be burnt at night. The cohanim continued to burn (to place on the Mizbei'ach) the limbs of the burnt-offerings and the fat-pieces, until mid-night. On the other hand, if there were limbs and fat-pieces already on the Mizbei'ach, but had not yet burnt completely, whether they were from the Tomid or from any other sacrifices, the cohanim would turn them over (on the Mizbei'ach, to make sure that they burnt to a cinder) right through the night until morning.

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