by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS PINCHOS 5763 BS"D
Ch. 25, v. 17: "Tzoror es haMidyonim" - Terrorize the Midyanites - Why were the Midyanites deserving of punishment? Although they seduced the bnei Yisroel into sinning, nevertheless, they should not be held responsible, as per the maxim, "divrei hoRav v'divrei hatalmid divrei mi shomin" (gemara Kidushin 42b), - one should rather follow the words of his Master than the words of a disciple. Since the Midyanites urged the bnei Yisroel to sin with their daughters only as a stepping-stone to ch"v denying in Hashem altogether, this was an attempt at negation of the Rav Himself, not just His words. For this they are held responsible. (Tiferres Y'honoson)
The Rabbis say that we do not come to the legal aid of one who seduces another to sin, "ein m'hafchin bizchuso shel meisis" (gemara Sanhedrin 29a brought in Rashi on Breishis 3:14.) They derive this from the snake receiving a punishment for his seducing Chavoh into eating from the prohibited tree. We could have claimed in his defence that "divrei hoRav v'divrei hatalmid divrei mi shomin." Chavoh should not have followed his advice, but rather, she should have followed the word of Hashem. According to the words of the Tiferres Y'honoson, how do we have a proof? Perhaps we do come to his aid, but the snake told Chavoh that if she would eat from the tree she would become Hashem's equal (Breishis 3:5). This is akin to "avodoh zoroh." If so, this would not be an excuse for the snake.
We must answer that we don't judge the snake by the claims and mediums that he used, but rather, by his end goal, to have Odom die and have Chavoh for himself, and not for the goal of having them sin with "avodoh zoroh." This is similar to the Midyanites seducing the bnei Yisroel into committing acts of immorality, while their intention was to have the bnei Yisroel serve "avodoh zoroh." In each case we judge the seducer for his intended end goal. (Nirreh li)
Ch. 26, v. 11: "Uvnei Korach lo meisu" - And the sons of Korach did not die - Rashi (gemara Sanherin 110a) says that originally they were in agreement with their father but later had thoughts of repentance in their hearts. Therefore an elevated location was created in Gehinom upon which they sat. Why were they in limbo? If their repentance was accepted why were they in Gehinom altogether, and if it was not accepted, why didn't they descend to the abyss? The Ksav Sofer answers that the gemara Yoma 87a states that whoever causes the masses to sin is not given the opportunity to repent. This is because it would be unfair for him to be in Gan Eden and his students whom he influenced to sin to be in Gehinom.
Since originally the sons of Korach were united in his campaign, they influenced others to sin. They were prevented from doing a proper repentance, as stated in Rashi, that they only had thoughts of repentance "in their hearts." Proper repentance requires verbalizing one's sins. This is why they ended up in Gehinom. Since they did have thoughts of repentance they at least merited to not have to descend to the depths of Gehinom, but rather, were given an elevated place in Gehinom to reside.
Ch. 26, v. 11: "Uvnei Korach lo meisu" - And the sons of Korach did not die - The Sha"ch in parshas Korach asks why this is not mentioned when the Torah relates that Korach was swallowed up by the earth. He answers that since Moshe prayed for Korach and his family to be swallowed up by the earth, out of deference to Moshe the Torah did not want to mention when relating the actual incident that some of Korach's family escaped the wrath of this punishment. When the Torah relates the descendants of the tribes the sons of Korach who survived must be mentioned.
Perhaps this question can be answered with the words of the Rokei'ach. He says that the sons of Korach fell into the crevice and were headed for a devastating landing. When they were suspended in the air they repented. A miracle occurred and some earth moved into a position to create a ledge upon which they safely landed. This is alluded to in the last words of the previous verse, "va'y'h'yu l'neis." We can translate these words to mean that they, the sons of Korach, were elevated, as they were about to fall further down and a miracle took place and they remained in an upper position in the abyss. Perhaps his intention is a dual translation, that they experienced a miracle, as the ledge was not there when they fell downwards.
In any case, when they fell in there was no natural way that they could have survived. We have a maxim that when an item is in free-fall and will surely break, it is already considered broken even before landing and shattering (Tosfos on the gemara B.K. 17a d.h. "Zorak."). This was mentioned in an offering of the Gri"z on Megilas Esther 6:12, on the words "o'veil vachafuy rosh." In parshas Korach the Torah relates that the earth opened its mouth and swallowed Korach and his family. His sons, who were in free-fall, were considered as dead, since by the laws of nature they would surely die upon impact. The Torah relates nothing more than that they were swallowed by the earth. As we know, they were miraculously saved. Since they did survive, when the Torah relates the descendants of the tribes in our parsha they are mentioned.
The gemara Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 10:1 says that Korach denied in the Torah of Moshe, stating that he made up all the mitzvos, not that he heard them from Hashem. Obviously he did not deny the two mitzvos, "Onochi," and "lo y'h'yeh l'cho," as all the bnei Yisroel heard them directly from Hashem (see Rashi Bmidbar 16:3 d.h. "umadua"). We can take the words of the Yerushalmi literally: Korach denied the "Torah." The numerical value of Torah is 611 (see gemara Makos 23b). Korach's sons believed in Moshe and the 611 additional mitzvos he taught us. The sons of Korach were three. Their names are Osir, Elkonoh, and Aviosof (Shmos 6:24). The numerical value of these three names is 611, the 611 mitzvos in which they believed that their father denied. Korach in "mispar koton" has the value of two, as he believed in only two mitzvos. It is interesting to note that the names Korach and his father Yitzhor have the numerical value of 613.
Ch. 27, v. 3: "V'hu lo hoyoh ..b'adas Korach" - And he wasn't .. in the congregation of Korach - Why is this germane to their claim? Had their father been one of Korach's cohorts, all his possessions would have been confiscated, as per the words of Moshe, "v'al tigu b'chol asher lo'hem" (Bmidbar 16:26). Indeed, when the earth swallowed Korach's group it took along all their possessions, "v'es kol horchush" (verse 32). Their land claim would have had no basis. (Sforno)
The Meshech Chochmoh has a slight variation on this insight. He approaches it with Moshe's having the status of king and those opposing him losing their possessions as "mordim b'malchus."
Ch. 28, v. 6: "Olas Tomid ho'asuyoh b'Har Sinai" - The daily Oloh offering which was processed at Har Sinai - Rashi says that the reference to Har Sinai teaches us that the details of its processing are the same. Ibn Ezra derives from these words that the bnei Yisroel were prohibited from offering Oloh sacrifices in the desert after traveling from Har Sinai. He expands on this theme in Shmos 29:42. Sforno offers that these words flow into the next verse, which tells us that there are accompanying wine libations. This same sacrifice was offered at Har Sinai, but without accompanying libations, as it was before the sin of the golden calf. Now however, we process the Olas Tomid the same way, but in addition, "V'nisko .."
Ch. 28, v. 7: "Nesech sheichor" - A libation of wine - Rashi says that these words exclude freshly pressed grape juice, as "sheichor" connotes intoxicating beverage. Ramban argues with Rashi, stating that the gemara B.B. 97a says that as a first choice one should pour wine that has alcohol content, but if one brought freshly pressed grape juice he has fulfilled the basic requirement. Ramban posits that the exclusion of grape juice is only a Rabbinic prohibition. He says that "sheichor" teaches us that watered-down wine is not acceptable, and even invalidates the libation, as per the Sifri on our parsha 23:33. I do not understand why Ramban excludes freshly pressed grape juice from being a Torah exclusion. This is not contrary to the gemara B.B. he quotes. Even if it is excluded by the Torah itself this does not mean that it is invalid if poured. We have a ruling that by sacrificial matters, only if the Torah repeats or states unequivocally that a certain item or manner of service is required, does it become invalid if omitted or done otherwise, "shinoh olov hakosuv l'a'keiv."
Ch. 28, v. 10: "B'ShabbatO" - In HIS Shabbos - Ibn Ezra says that Shabbos is a female form word. In HIS Shabbos refers to the DAY, a male word. He similarly posits that, "Kol shomeir Shabbos meichal'lO" (Yeshayohu 56:6), refers to the DAY of Shabbos. This seems to be in disagreement with Tosfos on the gemara K'subos 5a d.h. "Shemo," who posits that Shabbos is one of those words that appear in either male or female form. He even cites the same verse in Yeshayohu as a proof that it is a male form word.
I do not know why Ibn Ezra feels compelled to explain the verse in Yeshayohu and does not deal with "kol ho'oseh VO mlochoh yumos" in Shmos 35:2. Based on proofs from Tanach, how many words can you find that are both male and female?
Ch. 28, v. 11: "Uvroshei chodsheichem" - And on the heads of your months - This is the common translation of these words. However, Ibn Ezra brings in the name of Rabbi Moshe haKohein haSfaradi that these words mean, "And on the head (first) of your new months," i.e. Rosh Chodesh Nison. "Olas chodesh b'chodsho" of verse 14 tells us that the special Rosh Chodesh Nison sacrifice applies to all other Roshei Chodoshim as well. Ibn Ezra explains why a letter Yud appears in the word "uvroshEI," even though it is singular.
Ch. 28, v. 11: "Uvroshei chodsheichem" - And on the heads of your months - Rosh Chodesh has by custom been a day that is treated somewhat as a Yom Tov by the bnei Yisroel. We see this from the verse, "Asher nistarto shom b'yom hamaa'seh" (Shmuel 1:20:19). "B'yom hamaa'seh" is translated by Targum as "yoma d'chola," a weekday. Dovid was advised to hide himself on the eve of Rosh Chodesh, which is a day of work, indicating that the next day, Rosh Chodesh, is a Yom Tov of sorts.
The expression "your months" is not found by any Yom Tov. The verse does not similarly say, "B'shabbas Shabbatchem, b'yom Bikureichem, b'yom Sukoseichem." ("B'shovu'oseichem" in 28:26 is explained by the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh.) This is because the custom of somewhat restraining from regular work is based upon the similarity between the bnei Yisroel's success in physical pursuits and the illumination of the moon. The moon is not self-illuminating, but rather, receives its light from another source. By restraining from work on the day of the renewal of the moon we testify that we also receive our success not through our brains and the sweat of our brows, but from Hashem. (Sforno)
The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh explains the word "chodsheichem" by saying that it is decreed by the court, so it is OUR head of the month.
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