SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS PINCHOS 5765 BS"D
Ch. 25, v. 11: "B'kano es kinosi b'SOCHOM" - With his avenging my vengeance
within them - The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh asks what the word "b'sochom" tells us.
Perhaps this can be answered with the insight of Rabbi Yoseif Chaim Sonnenfeld
brought in Chochmas Chaim. At the end of parshas Bolok we find that Zimri
brought the Midyanite woman with whom he sinned in front of his brethren in the
full view of Moshe and all the congregation, "va'yakreiv el echov es haMidyonis
l'einei Moshe ul'einei kol adas bnei Yisroel." Why does the verse point out
that he brought her in front of the whole congregation? Since he came to ask a
general question, if a Midyanite woman is permissible, (taunting Moshe with,
"If this woman is prohibited, who permitted you to take your wife" (gemara
Sanhedrin 82a) why bring her along?
The gemara Sotoh 22b tells us that Yannai told his wife to only fear those
false people who perform acts like that of Zimri and request the reward of
Pinchos. Who in his right mind would perpetrate an awful act like Zimri's and
expect a reward like Pinchos's? In reality, Hashem's greater concern was that of
the idol worship that came about through their falling prey to adultery with the
daughters of Midyon and Moav (gemara Sanhedrin 106a). Zimri posited that it
was worthwhile to make a compromise, to permit adultery in a manner of bringing
the women into the bnei Yisroel's camp, and in this environment at least
there will be no idol worship, rather than to have the bnei Yisroel leave the camp
and enter the environment of the Moabites and Midyanites, where they would
also fall prey to idol worship, a sort of damage control. This is why he brought
the Midyanite woman into the camp in full view of the entire congregation.
This is seemingly also an act of zealousness, an extreme act to be enacted at a
time of very trying circumstances, to safeguard against the sin of idol
worship. Zimri felt justified in requesting a reward for his zealousness, just as
would later be given to Pinchos. He felt he was saving the nation with his
Pinchos took a spear and killed both Zimri and Kozbi in the midst of their
sinning. The gemara Sanhedrin 82a relates that people criticized Pinchos with
the taunt, "Have you seen what this grandson of one who fattened calves to be
offered to idols has done? He has killed a prince in Yisroel!" This is not to be
understood as just a barb, finding a skeleton in the closet. This was a
head-on attack. These people sided with Zimri and felt that his strategy would
minimize the damage and at least idol worship could be avoided. They said that the
reason Pinchos killed Zimri was that Pinchos was not sensitive to the sin of
idol worship since he was a descendant of an idol worshipper.
What indeed was wrong with Zimri's idea? What was so blatantly wrong, to the
point that Pinchos killed him? It was simply that we cannot tolerate defiling
the one location of purity, the encampment of the bnei Yisroel. It must remain
pure and unsullied. No calculation can allow us to abrogate its holiness.
(This was indeed the decades long battle at which Rabbi Sonnenfeld stood at the
helm in Yerusholayim, combating foreign winds that threatened to compromise and
water down Torah true Yiddishkeit.)
We possibly now have an understanding of why the Torah stressed that Pinchos
avenged Hashem's anger through an act of zealousness that was done "B'SOCHOM,"
among them. Pinchos felt that even bringing the women into our camp and thus
thwarting the sin of idol worship, was not justified.
Ch. 26, v. 2: "S'u es rosh kol adas bnei Yisroel" - Count all the people of
the bnei Yisroel congregation - Why was there a need to count them again so
shortly after the previous census?
1) Since a large number of people had just died in a plague there was the
need to count them again, just as a caring shepherd would recount his sheep if
wolves killed many of his flock. (Rashi)
2) When the bnei Yisroel were put into Moshe's care they were given to him
with a population count. As he was now close to the end of his life he is to
count them before he gives them over to the next leader. (Rashi, Medrash
3) In verse 53 Hashem tells Moshe that these people will receive the land
allotments in Eretz Yisroel. There was therefore a need to count them in
relation to their land inheritances. (Ibn Ezra)
This requires some clarification. Once the conquest of Sichon was complete
why wasn't the census done immediately? Had it taken place immediately after the
war with Sichon, the plague that brought about the death of 24,000 men might
have been attributed to counting in a manner that was against halacha, as we
later find a plague after Dovid's taking a census improperly. Hashem therefore
waited until after the plague, so that the bnei Yisroel not delude themselves,
and realize that the plague was the result of immoral behaviour. (Ponim Yofos)
4) Since some men sinned with Midyonite women, there was the fear that
people would likewise believe that the Egyptian men sired many of those who were
considered bnei Yisroel. There was therefore a need to count them again and add
Hashem's testimony to their family purity now. (Holy Alshich) (See Ponim Yofos
on verse 5.)
5) Hashem's Holy Spirit rests upon even a group of ten bnei Yisroel.
However, there are greater levels of sanctity when there is a group of 100, 1,000,
22,000, and 600,000. When the bnei Yisroel heard that there were over 600,000
men they were extremely happy to know that a very high level of Hashem's Holy
Spirit was upon them. Now that 24,000 men died in a plague they were
crestfallen, thinking that they fell below the 600,000 plateau. The census was done to
apprise them of their still having 600,000 men. (Holy Alshich)
Ch. 26, v. 3: "Va'y'da'beir Moshe vElozor haKohein osom" - And Moshe and
Elozor the Kohein spoke to them - As Rashi in verse 4 explains, Moshe and Elozor
told the bnei Yisroel that Hashem commanded that a census be taken. Why do we
not find Moshe and Aharon telling the bnei Yisroel in parshas Bmidbar that
there was a command that they be counted?
In parshas Bmidbar each tribe was advised by its tribal head that there was a
census coming up. This is self-understood, as most tribal communal matters
were attended to by their heads. In our parsha, after the tribal head of Shimon
had so grievously sinned and brought about the death of 24,000 people, the
stature of all tribal leaders was lowered precipitously. Moshe and Elozor had to
go to all the tribes and advise them of the nation-wide census, and at the
same time this was a consolation to them, indicating that they still were under
the supervision of spiritually stalwart leaders. (Meshech Chochmoh)
Ch. 26, v. 5: "Chanoch mishpachas haChanochi" - Chanoch the Chanochite family
- Rashi explains the prefix and suffix for the names of the families, which
are a letter Hei and Yud. The gentile nations mocked the bnei Yisroel, saying,
"Of what value is their counting their families to their ancestral tribes?
Since the Egyptians totally mastered over the men they surely did as they wished
with the women, and the descendants are not those of the bnei Yisroel."
Therefore Hashem gave His seal of purity on the families by adding a Letter Hei
before and a letter Yud afterwards. These two letters are one of His Holy Names.
The question is raised: The bnei Yisroel had a count earlier in parshas
Bmidbar. The verses there only give us the tribal heads and the census by tribes.
Why wasn't this approbation given earlier?
The bnei Yisroel had a reputation of being moral and such a claim against
them would fall on deaf ears. It was only after some of the men sinned with the
women of Midyon that the claim would gain credence. The gemara Sotoh 10 says
that if a man is not faithful to his wife, she will also be unfaithful to him.
It was only at this point that there was a need to give the bnei Yisroel a seal
of kashrus. (Ponim Yofos)
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