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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Numbers 25:14

Leader of a patriarchal house of Simeon: Rashi: Of one of the five patriarchal houses of the tribe of Simeon. Another interpretation: To proclaim the merit of Pinchas. Although this one was a leader he did not refrain from avenging the desecration of the Name. This is why Scripture informs of the identity of the one that was killed.

What Is Rashi Saying ?

The very last words of Rashi in this comment tell us what was bothering him. Why the need to give pedigree the person killed. The reason we are told is to show us Pinchas' unhesitating courage and profound pain over the chillul Hashem.

But when we compare this comment with another one in the next verse, we are faced with a glaring question.

That comment on verse 25:15

And the name of the slain woman: Rashi: To inform you of the hatred of the Midianites who abandoned a princes to promiscuous behavior in order to entice the Israelites into sinning.

What question would you ask when you compare these two comments?

Your Question:

Questioning Rashi

A Question: Why doesn't Rashi offer the type of comment here as he did on verse 14? Why doesn't he say that the woman's name and pedigree were mentioned to show Pinchas' courage, that although she was a princess in Midian he nevertheless killed her? What would you answer? Your Answer:

Understanding Rashi

An Answer: Killing the enemy, especially if she is a woman, doesn't take much courage. And killing a princess of an enemy with whom you are at war is a golden opportunity for Pinchas to gain fame and admiration. Killing a woman so high in the enemy's society is an occasion for rejoicing. However, killing a prince of one's own country, as Zimri was, is another matter altogether. The people would most likely rise up against such a perpetrator like Pinchas and do him in on the spot. The Torah therefore emphasizes this point precisely to make us aware of his courage.

Shabbat Shalom

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