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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 25, v. 11: "B'kano es kinosi b'SOCHOM" - The Sforno comments on the word "b'SOCHOM" that the verse stresses Pinchos's acting zealously "in the midst of the people." All saw Pinchos act and yet no one stopped him. This atones for their sin of seeing Zimri do a most despicable act and not stopping him. During a visit to Yerusholayim by the Holy Admor of Satmar, Rabbi Amrom Blau, the Yerushalmi zealot, came to see the Rebbi. Rabbi Blau bemoaned the difficulties he had in keeping up the standard of Torah without compromise. He added that when he went to publicly complain about anti-Torah policies, even those who claimed to be stalwart Torah standard bearers did not join him in his zealous activities. The Holy Rebbi responded that we see from these words of the Sforno that it should be sufficient for Rabbi Amrom that he is not stopped by others in his own camp.

Ch. 25, v. 12: "Lochein emore hin'ni nosein lo es brisi sholom" - Why did Hashem ask Moshe to convey to Pinchos that he and his children would enter into the covenant of priesthood for all future generations, and not tell this to Pinchos directly?

1) The N'tzi"v answers in the name of Rabbi Yitzchok of Volozhin with a parable. A king sent a very highly placed war officer with many men to combat. In the heat of the combat the enemy started overpowering the king's men. Things looked bleak and to turn the situation around required some very immediate and novel strategy. However, the commanding officer was at a loss to come up with any tactic. An officer of the lowest rank ran to the commanding officer and suggested a most brilliant manoeuvre. The commanding officer immediately put this plan into action and the situation took a sudden turn for the better, with the king's men overpowering their adversaries. Upon returning victorious from the battlefield, the king was faced with a dilemma. Should he openly disgrace the commanding officer who would have lost the battle if he had been left to his own strategy, or should he not do so since in fact the battle ended successfully? Should he only reward the underling who so brilliantly saved the day? If so, this would leave the commanding officer unreprimanded. He decided on a plan that would accomplish both ends. He awarded the underling with a citation, but had it presented by the commanding officer. Thus recognition was given to the person who deserved it and the commanding officer was indirectly reprimanded, as he should have normally received the accolade, and instead he personally presented the citation to another.

So too, Moshe, the leader of the bnei Yisroel, had the opportunity to be the one to act zealously to protect Hashem's honour. However, he did not act and Pinchos did. Hashem therefore told Moshe to verbally present the reward to Pinchos.

2) The Meshech Chochmoh answers that had Hashem told Pinchos directly, even though the message would have been prophetic, it would have been a message that Pinchos was not told to pass on to the bnei Yisroel. A prophecy of this sort is open to being rescinded if the recipient later becomes undeserving, as we find that Yaakov feared that through his sinning he might not merit the blessings Hashem promised him (gemara Brochos 4a). However, a positive prophecy given to one prophet to tell another person, once it is verbalised to the other person cannot be retracted, as per the Rambam in his preface to his commentary on the mishnoh. This is why Hashem said to Moshe "lochein EMOR."

3) Possibly, there might be another reason for involving Moshe. The first appointing of a Kohein was done by Hashem. Hashem originally planned it for Moshe and his subsequent generations, but Moshe lost this opportunity when he stubbornly refused to be the agent to facilitate the exodus from Egypt (Shmos 4:14). Although Moshe lost permanent K'hunoh for himself and for his successive generations, nonetheless, he had the status of Kohein Godol during the eight days of the dedication of the Mishkon. As explained in the Droshos hoRa"n drush #8, Moshe was the conduit for prophecy that spilled over to the 70 elders in parshas B'haalos'cho (11:17). So too, he had to be the one to relate to Pinchos that he and all his future generations were now elevated to the status of K'hunoh, serving as the conduit of this heavenly downpour of sanctity.

Ch. 25, v. 14: "V'sheim ish Yisroel hamu'keh" - When the Torah recounts the actual sin, Zimri's name is not mentioned, "V'hi'nei ish mibnei Yisroel boh" (25:6), and only here when he receives his due retribution is his name mentioned. HRH"G Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt"l answers that had the Torah mentioned his name when recounting his grave sin it would weaken the resolve of others as they become aware of a tribal leader falling prey to his base impulses. However, when the Torah mentions his being killed for sinning, it is all-important to mention him by name. This teaches us that there is no "protektzia" for even the greatest of people who sin, as they are even put to death if this is what is deserved for a sin of such severity.

Ch. 25, v. 14,15: "V'sheim ish Yisroel hamu'keh asher hukoh es haMidyonis Zimri, V'sheim ho'ishoh hamukoh haMidyonis Kozbi" - Why does the verse point out that Zimri was killed while he was with the Midyonite woman, "es haMidyonis," and in the next verse when it recounts the killing of Kozbi, it does not mention that she was "with Zimri," as she indeed was, as is recounted in Targum Yonoson ben Uziel?

The Nachal K'dumim and the Ragotchover Gaon both answer this question with the words of the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh in parshas Bolok (25:8). He asks that although it was proper for Pinchos to kill Zimri, as per the rule of "habo'eil Aramis kano'im pogim bo" (gemara Sanhedrin 82a), - one who sins with a gentile woman is liable to be killed by a zealot, but by what right did Pinchos kill Kozbi? He surely didn't know if she was a married woman, and when in doubt he surely would not have killed her. He answers that she was killed as per the verse "v'es hab'heimoh taharogu" (Vayikroh 20:15), by the case of committing bestiality.

(Actually, the Rambam in gilyon hilchos issu'rei bi'oh 12:6 says this, bringing a proof from Bmidbar 31:16, "hein heinoh hoyu livnei Yisroel ......").

The question is now answered. The gemara Sanhedrin 82a says that when Pinchos came upon Zimri, had Zimri separated himself from Kozbi, i.e. stopped doing the immoral act, Pinchos would not have been allowed to kill him. Therefore our verse stresses that he was WITH Kozbi when he was killed. However, Kozbi was killed for a different reason, and she was to be killed even when not being together with Zimri.

Ch. 25, v. 17,18: "Tzorore es haMidyonim, Ki tzorarim heim lochem b'nichlei'hem" - Why does the verse uses the present tense "tzorarim," rather than the past tense "tzor'ru," as their causing the bnei Yisroel to sin with their woman had already taken place? Secondly, why does the verse say "b'nichlei'hem," - with their diabolical plans, as the Midyonim did much more than just plan? They brought their plans into the realm of action when they caused the bnei Yisroel to sin. He answers that the physical sinning was minor compared to the long lasting affects. The Midyonim caused the bnei Yisroel to sin by having licentious thoughts in the future. Thus they PLANNED, "b'nichlei'hem, this long term effect, and its effects are still being felt, "tzorarim." (Noam Elimelech)

Why does the Torah now mention that the bnei Yisroel should fight the Midyonim? Shouldn't this be placed in parshas Matos by Hashem's call to war against the Midyonim?

Rashi says that the word "tzrore" is in the present tense, similar to "zochor" and "shomor." The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh says that there was a command for each person to have an internal war to fight the negative affects that sinning with the Midyonite women brought, namely evil thoughts. They will continue to plague the nation and require ongoing battle. This comment fits perfectly with the words of the Noam Elimelech.

Ch. 28, v. 5: "Vaasiris ho'eifoh so'les l'minchoh" - Regarding the meal offering that accompanies the lamb that is brought as an "oloh" sacrifice along with the "omer" first grain the Torah says that its volume is "u'minchoso shnei esronim so'les" (Vayikroh 23:13). This is double the normal volume of flour brought as an accompaniment to a lamb offering. The Toras Kohanim 10:7 says that this is an exception, "yotzoh min haklal." The Meshech Chochmoh says that the intention of the Toras Kohanim is not to point out that the volume is an exception (perhaps because this is obvious, as we find no other variation anywhere in the Torah to 1/10th an "eifoh" for a lamb, 2/10ths for a ram, and 3/10ths for an ox), but rather the "exception" is the order in which the words appear in the verse. We always find that fine-flour, "so'les," is mentioned first, and then the volume, as in parshas Shlach "so'les isorone" (Bmidbar 15:4). However, by the flour offering of the "omer" lamb we have an exception, "Vaasiris ho'eifoh so'les l'minchoh," with the amount mentioned before the word "so'les."

This statement is quite puzzling. Although we find by all the "m'nochos" in parshas Shlach that "so'les" precedes the volume, in our verse as well as in verses 9 and 12 we find the volume preceding the word so'les." Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Ch. 29, v. 35: "Ba'yom hashmini atzerres T'H'YEH lochem" - The gemara Yerushalmi says that on Shmini Atzerres Rabbi Chiya said that it is a day to involve oneself in eating and drinking to celebrate the Yom Tov. On the following day he taught that this is to be derived from our verse. The word "t'h'yeh" is phonetically very similar to "tichyeh," - you should involve yourself in life sustaining activities, i.e. eating and drinking. The Mahari"l Diskin asks, "Why didn't Rabbi Chiya teach this ruling on Shmini Atzerres itself, rather than wait until the next day?" He answers that the gemara Megiloh 24a, as explained by Rashi, says that Rabbi Yehudoh Hanossi told his son Rabbi Shimon to tell Rabbi Chiya that when he reads the verse in Yeshayohu 8:17, "V'CHikisi laShem," he would be blaspheming. This is because Rabbi Chiya had a speech impediment and could not properly pronounce the letter Ches. It sounded just like the letter Hei, thus changing "v'CHikisi" to "v'Hikisi." It is obvious why this change in the context of the verse would be a blasphemous statement.

We now understand why Rabbi Chiya could not teach his ruling of "t'H'yeh = tiCHyeh." If he were to attempt to say "t'H'yeh = tiCHyeh," it would sound like "t'H'yeh = t'H'yeh," and would not be understood. He could not write it down as it was Yom Tov. He therefore waited until the next day and wrote down his explanation of the verse, and it was understood by all.

I have been told that no one has found the above-mentioned statement in any gemara Yerushalmi, not even Horav Chaim Kanievski shlit"a, so we must assume that a gemara with a text unavailable to us came to the attention of the Mahari"l Diskin.



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

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