CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON PARSHAS PINCHOS 5773 - BS"D
1) Ch. 25, v. 11: “Pinchos” – Why does the previous parsha of Bolok stop in the middle of this painful story, and only complete it in the next parsha?
2) Ch. 25, v. 11: “Pinchos ben Elozor ben Aharon haKohein” – Rashi (gemara Sanhedrin 82b) says that people derided Pinchos, stating that he killed a tribal prince, and that this was an outgrowth of the terrible trait of murder genealogically flowing through his veins from his grandfather Yisro. Hashem said that it was otherwise, that he acted with the trait of Aharon, the peace-maker, and in spite/because of this trait it was in place to kill Zimri. a) How does giving him and all his descendants the status of Kohein fortify this counter-claim? b) Why is this reward in kind?
3) Ch. 25, v. 14: “V’shem ish Yisroel hamu’keh” – And the name of the Israelite man who was struck – Rashi (Medrash Tanchuma 2) says that just as the righteous Pinchos had his ancestry mentioned as a praise, so too, the ancestry of the wicked Zimri was mentioned in derision. We understand Pinchos’s ancestry being a praise, but how is Zimri’s a derision? It is only his behaviour that is despicable, and not his ancestry.
4) Ch. 26, v. 8: “Uvnei Falu Eliov” – And the sons of Palu were Eliov – This verse expresses itself in the plural, “uvnei,” even though Palu had but one son, Eliov. The gemara B.B. 143b takes note of this and derives that in the common parlance a person would say that his “children” are ……, citing his only child. The gemara cites a second proof for this in the name of Rabbi Yoseif from Divrei Ha’yomim. Why does the gemara brings a second proof from Divrei Ha’yomim when we have a quite satisfactory proof from the Torah itself, “Uvnei Dan Chushim?”
5) Ch. 27, v. 17: “Katzone asher ein lohem ro’eh” – As sheep who do not have for themselves a shepherd – “Asher ein lohem” connotes that the norm is that they have no shepherd, and this is surely not the case. If the intention of the verse were to say that the bnei Yisroel should not be left like sheep who “happen” to not have a shepherd, the verse should have said “katzone bli ro’eh” or the like.
Rabbi Moshe the Sar of Coucy, Sma”g, says that we need a week to think over that which took place. Zealousness is a very tough act. It is not always called for, and even when called for, it must be executed with only pure intentions. A week must be given to digest it. Only then does the Torah tell us that in this case zealousness was totally positive.
The Ibn Ezra states that although Moshe lost the opportunity to be a Kohein, nevertheless his children would have been Kohanim except for the fact that their lineage was tainted. Their mother was originally a Midianite. The masses claimed that Pinchos acted as he did by virtue of the negative traits of his Midianite ancestors. His mother was the daughter of Yisro, the Midianite. The Torah testifies otherwise. Not only was he not spurred on by this, but to the contrary, by killing the Midianite princess Kozbi along with Zimri, he totally cleansed himself of any possible vestiges of Midian. Hashem testifies to this by giving him and all his future descendants the status of Kohein, an impossibility if there remained even the slightest Midianite impurity within him. Thus elevating him to this position served both as a rebuttal to the incorrect claims against him, and also as a befitting reward for his totally purifying himself.
May we be so daring as to suggest that if Moshe would have acted as did Pinchos, his descendants may have become Kohanim? (Nirreh li)
The Holy Shalo”h in his commentary on parshas B’chukosai asks why the remembrance of the covenant with Yaakov, Yitzchok, and Avrohom is mentioned in the middle of a powerful and lengthy admonishment. It seems to be a non sequitur. He answers that mentioning that we come from such good stock and still behaved improperly exacerbates our guilt. This is the intention here as well. Zimri was of the tribe of Shimon. By the incident of Dinoh’s being violated by Sh’chem, Shimon took his life into his hands by wiping out the whole adult male population of the city (together with Levi). This act by Zimri’s ancestor should have embedded in all Shimon’s descendants total intolerance for such an act. In spite of this Zimri did what he did, and thus his glorious ancestry only serves to increase his shame. (Beis Aharon)
The Minchas Shai in his commentary on parshas Va’yigash asks this question. The Haa’meik Shaaloh in his commentary on Shiltos d’Rebbi Hai Gaon parshas Lech L’cho Shilto 8:10 answers this question in a marvelous manner. The gemara N’dorim 49a when dealing with the subject of the common parlance of people when making a vow raises a question from a verse in Divrei Ha’yomim. Tosfos explains that the gemara specifically draws on Divrei Ha’yomim rather than the Torah itself because while the terminology of the Torah is not in the common tongue, the words of Divrei Ha’yomim are. Thus, since the gemara B.B. wanted to bring a proof for the common parlance, Rabbi Yoseif was not satisfied with a proof from the Torah, and specifically brought a proof from Divrei Ha’yomim.
Taamo Dikro has a different approach to “uvnei.” He says that the Torah is alluding to the fact that Palu also had another son, On ben Pelles. Palu and Pelles are one and the same, as is mentioned in the Chizkuni in parshas Korach. The Torah did not want to overtly state this because On repented and Eliov’s sons Doson and Avirom did not, so the verse avoided mentioning them together. He explains the proof of the gemara B.B. as well.
The truth is that sheep have a shepherd, but he is not out to serve them. He is not “lohem.” He takes care of his own sheep to bring them to market and make a profit, and if he is shepherding someone else’s sheep, he is doing it for the wages. Moshe prayed that the bnei Yisroel not be left in such a position, but rather, they should have a leader who has only their well-being in mind. (Yeitev Leiv of Sighet)
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