by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
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Parashas Pinchas (71)Numbers 25: 11
Pinchas the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron the Priest, has turned My anger away from the Children of Israel by his vengeance for Me among them, so that I did not destroy the Children of Israel in My vengeance.
Pinchas the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron the Priest: Rashi: Because the tribes disparaged him - "see the son of 'Puti' whose mother's father fattened calves for idol worship and he killed the prince of the tribe of a tribe in Israel. " Therefore the Scripture traces his lineage to Aaron.
A Question: Who was 'Puti' his mother's father?
An Answer: It says in Exodus 6:25 "And Elazar the son of Aaron took a wife from the daughters of Putiel." The midrash tells us that Putiel was actually Yisro; he was called 'Putiel' because he fattened ( 'puti' means fattening) calves for idol worship. So Yisro was a non-Jew and at that time also an idol worshiper and Elazar was his son-in-law.(Rashi says this on this verse in Exodus.) And Pinchas was Elazar's son, thus a grandson of an idol worshiper.
QUESTIONING RASHI FURTHER
A Second Question: Why does Rashi tell us all this? What is bothering him?
WHAT IS BOTHERING RASHI ?
An Answer: Why does the verse mention Pinchas' lineage all the way back to Aaron, the Priest? It would have been enough to just mention his father, Elazar.
How does Rashi's comment deal with this?
An Answer: Because people spoke badly of Pinchas ("What right does this man- Pinchas - have to kill a prince in Israel? He himself has no heritage to be proud of!"). Therefore the Torah tells us Pinchas' illustrious Yichus, Aaron the first Priest was his grandfather.
AND YET ANOTHER QUESTION
But we can ask another question on this (See verse 25:7 in the end of Parashas Balak).
A Question: The same complete lineage of Pinchas is mentioned above. Why didn't Rashi comment there? Why did we he wait until our verse to comment?
Hint: Use simple logic.
An Answer: That is precisely the point ! Since we already know Pinchas' full lineage from just a few verses before, the main question bothering Rashi is: Why does the Torah need to repeat it here?
His answer: To emphasize his illustrious Yichus, that Aaron the first Priest was his grandfather.
YET ANOTHER QUESTION
A Question: Nevertheless why didn't Rashi make this comment on the previous verse?
FURTHER UNDERSTANDING RASHI
An Answer: First of all it is not so unusual to mention a person's lineage back to someone great. See for example the lineage of Korach (Numbers 16:1) which goes all the way back to Levi. Another reason is that when Pinchas is first mentioned ( in last week's sedra) he had not yet killed Zimri, so the tribes had no reason to speak badly of him. Only when we come to our verse do we have the situation where the tribes started talking against Pinchas because of his audacious (and heroic) act.
"What's Bothering Rashi?" is produced by the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. The five volume set of "What's Bothering Rashi?" is available at all Judaica bookstores.
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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