Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 25, v. 11: "B'kano es kinosi b'SOCHOM" - What does the word "b'sochom" teach us? It seems to be superfluous.

2) Ch. 25, v. 13: "V'hoysoh lo u'l'zaro acharov bris k'hunas olom" - Why wasn't Pinchos inducted into the "Kohanim Association" when the sons of Aharon were?

3) Ch. 25, v. 17: "Tzoror es haMidyonim" - 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.

4) Ch. 25, v. 17,18: "Tzoror 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.

5) Ch. 27, v. 5: "Va'yakreiv Moshe es mishpotoN lifnei Hashem" - And Moshe brought close their judgment in front of Hashem - What necessitated bringing this question to Hashem? Doesn't simple logic dictate that if there is no son a daughter deserves to inherit her father?



A) 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.

B) Perhaps this can be answered with the insight of Rabbi Yoseif Chaim Sonnenfeld found in Chochmas Chaim. At the end of parshas Bolok we find that Zimri brought the Midyanite woman with whom he sinned in front of his brethren in the full view of Moshe and all the congregation, "va'yakreiv el echov es haMidyonis l'einei Moshe ul'einei kol adas bnei Yisroel." Why does the verse point out that he brought her in front of the whole congregation? Since he came to ask a general question, if a Midyanite woman is permissible, (taunting Moshe with, "If this woman is prohibited, who permitted you to take your wife" (gemara Sanhedrin 82a) why bring her along?

The gemara Sotoh 22b tells us that Yannai told his wife to only fear those false people who perform acts like that of Zimri and request the reward of Pinchos. Who in his right mind would perpetrate an awful act like Zimri's and expect a reward like Pinchos's? In reality, Hashem's greater concern was that of the idol worship that came about through their falling prey to adultery with the daughters of Midyon and Moav (gemara Sanhedrin 106a). Zimri posited that it was worthwhile to make a compromise, to permit adultery in a manner of bringing the women into the bnei Yisroel's camp, and in this environment at least there will be no idol worship, rather than to have the bnei Yisroel leave the camp and enter the environment of the Moabites and Midyanites, where they would also fall prey to idol worship, a sort of damage control. This is why he brought the Midyanite woman into the camp in full view of the entire congregation. This is seemingly also an act of zealousness, an extreme act to be enacted at a time of very trying circumstances, to safeguard against the sin of idol worship. Zimri felt justified in requesting a reward for his zealousness, just as would later be given to Pinchos. He felt he was saving the nation with his strategy.

Pinchos took a spear and killed both Zimri and Kozbi in the midst of their sinning. The gemara Sanhedrin 82a relates that people criticized Pinchos with the taunt, "Have you seen what this granson of one who fattened calves to be offered to idols has done? He has killed a prince in Yisroel!" This is not to be understood as just a barb, finding a skeleton in the closet. This was a head-on attack. These people sided with Zimri and felt that his strategy would minimize the damage and at least idol worship could be avoided. They said that the reason Pinchos killed Zimri was that Pinchos was not sensitive to the sin of idol worship since he was a descendant of an idol worshipper.

What indeed was wrong with Zimri's idea? What was so blatantly wrong, to the point that Pinchos killed him? It was simply that we cannot tolerate defiling the one location of purity, the encampment of the bnei Yisroel. It must remain pure and unsullied. No calculation can allow us to abrogate its holiness. (This was indeed the decades long battle at which Rabbi Sonnenfeld stood at the helm in Yerusholayim, combating foreign winds that threatened to compromise and water down Torah true Yiddishkeit.)

We possibly now have an understanding of why the Torah stressed that Pinchos avenged Hashem's anger through an act of zealousness that was done REGARDING "B'SOCHOM," among them. Pinchos felt that even bringing the women into our camp and thus thwarting the sin of idol worship, was not justified.


Many answers abound. Possibly the following may be added to the list. It is the opinion of the Tosfos Yom Tov in mishnayos B'choros 7:7 that a Kohein who has killed someone may not do service in the Mikdosh for the rest of his life. Since Pinchos would kill Zimri in the future, Hashem did not allow him to become a Kohein when the children of Aharon became Kohanim. Only after killing Zimri as a non-Kohein was he inaugurated into priesthood. A question can be raised on this line of thinking. If one who is already a Kohein loses his right to serve, one who is not yet a Kohein should surely not be able to serve. However, this can be refuted by saying that only killing done by a Kohein is a sufficiently strong stain on one's soul that he loses the merit of serving.

Another answer to how Pinchos was afterwards able to serve as a Kohein in spite of having killed someone is that this killing was a mitzvoh.

Another answer is that the Holy Zohar says that Pinchos was so frightened upon killing Zimri, fearing being killed by Zimri's fellow tribesmen, that his soul left him. Hashem revived him by placing the souls of both Nodov and Avihu into him. When these souls of Kohanim entered him, he became a Kohein. Thus a new Pinchos who did not kill was allowed to serve in the Mikdosh.

The Rebbe Reb Heshel of Cracow says that the words of the Holy Zohar are alluded to in verse 11. Pinchos the son of Elozor and also the son of Aharon, as he was now a reincarnation of Nodov and Avihu, "haKohein," is now a Kohein.


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 Noam Elimelech 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."

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 "tzoror" 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.


The Holy Admor of Kotzk answers that the gemara Shabbos 118a says that one who festively keeps Shabbos merits to receive a boundless portion of land in Eretz Yisroel. We derive from this that one who desecrates Shabbos deserves no portion in the Holy Land. If so, since according to Rabbi Akiva who posits that Tzelofchod was put to death for the sin of desecrating Shabbos, what claim did his daughters have to an inheritance in the Holy Land? However, Tosfos on the gemara B.B. 119b d.h. "afilu" writes that Tzelofchod had a noble intention in desecrating Shabbos. Once the masses heard that they would not merit to enter Eretz Yisroel they felt that the mitzvos likewise did not apply to them. They began to desecrate Shabbos. Tzelofchod desecrated Shabbos in full view of witnesses so that he would be put to death, thus reinstating the seriousness of keeping Shabbos. Thus if he was a simple Shabbos desecrator, he had no portion in Eretz Yisroel to inherit to his daughters. His intention was only known by Hashem, thus requiring Moshe to bring the ruling to Hashem. Hashem responded that the daughters of Tzelofchod spoke properly, that their father had only good intentions, to sanctify Shabbos with his act, as indicated by their words that he died "in the desert," stressing that it was done in a place where Shabbos observance became lax.



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

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