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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 30, v. 2: "Zeh hadovor" - THIS is the matter - Rashi (Sifri 2) says that Moshe and other prophets prophesied with the expression "koh." ADDITIONALLY Moshe prophesied with the expression "zeh hadovor." We must both clarify what the exact difference is between these two expressions and why Moshe used both, while other prophets only used the one. As well, we will see that all commentators say that "zeh" is a higher level. If so why would Moshe use "koh" when he could use "zeh"?

1) "Koh" is a general idea, not exact wordage, open to the expressions and semantics used by the individual prophet. Moshe also used "zeh," meaning exact wordage. At the beginning of his career Hashem communicated with him with a "koh" prophecy in parshas Shmos (3:14,15 - 4:22), and as well the verse (3:2) says that a "malach" appeared to him, meaning a go between, i.e. a lower level prophecy, in parshas Vo'eiro we also find "koh" (7:17,26 - 8:8 - 9:1,13), and in parshas Bo (10:3 - 11:4) when being told to or actually talking to Paroh. Later he graduated to only use "zeh." A "zeh" prophecy is called "aspaklaria ha'm'iro." (Rabbi Eliyohu Mizrochi)

2)The choice of terms depends upon level of the one to whom the prophecy is to be transmitted by the prophet. (Malbim)

3)The choice of terms depends upon difficulty of the subject, so if a visual aid is needed, such as "sh'chitoh," then "zeh" is used, based on the maxim that "zeh" indicates that something is being shown. (B'eir Baso'deh)

4)In total disagreement with Rabbi Eliyohu Mizrochi, any prophecy to any prophet is always with exact words, just like "KOH s'vorachu" (Bmidbar 6:23). Are we to say that by prefacing the priestly blessing with "koh" the Kohanim have leeway to use the words of their choice in their blessing? Of course not! The difference is if the word of Hashem is actively being transmitted, a live broadcast, "sh'chinoh m'da'be'res mitoch grono," then "zeh" is used, but if it is a "tape recording" (exact words however), then "koh" is used. This does not explain why this or that is used at different times. (Eimek haN'tzi"v)

5) "Koh" is used when a prophecy of temporary relevancy is being given, i.e. talk to Paroh, talk to Aharon and tell him to accompany you, fight Sichon, etc. This is a NEW happening in the world, as it is a prophecy, but it has no permanence, as it is for the situation at hand, the need of the present time. This is a lesser message, as it comes to an end. A prophecy to transmit a parsha of Torah laws is PERMANENCE. This deserves "zeh." (Mahara"l in Gur Aryeh)

Ch. 30, v. 3: "Lo yacheil d'voro" - He shall not desecrate his word - This is Rashi's translation. However, Rashi on the gemara Taanis 7b says that it means "he shall not negate his word." Rashbam translates it as "he shall not delay fulfilling his word."

Ch. 31, v. 2: "Mei'eis haMidyonim" - From the Midyanites - The verse does not say "mei'haMidyonim." The word "es" expands the war to include others who are not Midyonites, but are found among them at the time of the war. This is Bilom, from Aram, who was there to collect his wages, as is explained in the gemara Sanhedrin 106a. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

Ch. 31, v. 2: "Mei'eis haMidyonim" - From the Midyanites - Rashi's second explanation for a war of vengeance only with Midyon and not with Moav is that there were two people whom Hashem wanted to later emerge from Moav, Rus and Naamoh. Rashi clearly states that Naamoh was an Amonite and not a Moabite. If so, there would only be one person from Moav, whom Hashem wanted to emerge. Tosfos on the gemara B.K. 38b d.h. "Moavim" raises this question and answers that the gemara paired them together, and Rashi just followed the format of the gemara, even though in fact there was only one "preidoh tovoh" from Moav.

Ch. 31, v. 3: "Heicholtzu" - Arm - This is Rashi's translation. M.R. Vayikra #34 says that this word form has four meanings, arming with weapons, as in our verse and "chalutzim taavru" (Dvorim 3), remove, as in "v'choltzoh naalo" (Dvorim 25), save from harm, as in "chaltzeini Hashem (T'hilim 140), and leave to rest, as in "v'atzmosecho yachalitz" (Yeshayohu 58).

Ch. 31, v. 6: "Osom v'es Pinchos" - They and Pinchos - "Osom" seems to be superfluous. This is the basis for Rashi's (Sifri) deriving that Pinchos was an equal to all those who were sent to war. The gemara Sanhedrin 43a says that "osom" refers to the court judges. These two opinions are in tandem with two opinions in the Sifri in parshas Pinchos. One opinion is that Pinchos on his own killed Bilom in this war (as is the opinion of Targum Yonoson ben Uziel). Rabbi Noson posits that court judges went out with the army, and when they captured Bilom, only with the empowerment of a court were they able to rule that a prophet should be killed. The first opinion is that of the Sifri that Pinchos was equal to all those sent to war, and was surely an equal to a court of judges. He therefore undertook to kill Bilom on his own. (Malbim)

Ch. 31, v. 17: "V'chol ishoh yodaas ish" - And every woman who has relations with a man - Rashi (Sifri #44) explains that the intention is a woman who has reached this age, even if never involved with a man. The women were tested by having them pass in front of the "tzitz." Whoever was in this category would react by having her face flush (gemara Y'vomos 60b).

The "tzitz" was a sort of Geiger counter for impropriety, as it brought atonement for immorality. The "tzitz" was worn on the forehead and the verse says, "u'metzach ishoh zonoh hoyoh loch" (Yirmiyohu 3:3). Wherever there is restraint against immorality there is sanctity (M.R. Vayikra 24:6). The sanctity of the "tzitz," which had the words "kodesh laShem" embossed upon it would repel and cause a negative reaction in a Midyonite woman who reached the age of being involved with a man. (Kli Yokor)

Ch. 31, v. 19: "Chanu michutz lamacha'neh" - Rest outside the camp - Rashi explains that this is a command to not enter "macha'neh Sh'chinoh," the "azoroh." This is in consonance with the rule that if one is defiled by a corpse, he is only restricted from entering "macha'neh Sh'chinoh" (gemara P'sochim 67a). The word "chanu" appears in Tanach in only one other place, in Yirmiyohu 50:29, "chanu o'lehoh soviv." The verse in Bmidbar 1:53 says, "V'haLviim yachanu SOVIV l'mishkan ho'eidus." Even though the "to'mei meis" must "chanu michutz lamacha'neh," but the restriction is only to not enter the "azoroh," as the verse says "chanu o'lehoh SOVIV," you may stay in the SOVIV area of the Levites. (Baal Haturim)

However, the Ibn Ezra seems to say that they were to leave all three camps because in the desert there was a strong level of "Sh'chinoh" on their entire encampment. The rule of the gemara refers only to Eretz Yisroel. Chizkuni agrees with the Ibn Ezra, but for another reason. He says that because there were so many warriors who had this defilement there was a great fear that they would defile others and vessels.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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